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Online Budget Database Planned by White House 304

prostoalex writes "The President of the United States feels Americans should be able 'to Google their tax dollars', and has signed a law that will create an online database to track federal spending. According to the Associated Press, the 'law is aimed preventing wasteful spending by opening the federal budget to greater scrutiny. The information is already available, but the Web site would make it easier for those who aren't experts on the process to see how taxpayer dollars are being spent.'"
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Online Budget Database Planned by White House

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  • In other news... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @02:57PM (#16203183)
    ...thousands of Slashdot readers with severe cases of Bush Derangement Syndrome (BDS) go into shock as the president does something they can't somehow link with the end of the world and everyone's freedoms.
  • Pencil - $1500
    Toilet Seat - $30,000
    Knowing what your government is spending your money on?

    But seriously, there is no way the numbers will be anywhere close to being remotely accurate.
    The government will never tell you where your money goes.
    Sorry, but they won't.
    This is not news, this is wool being pulled over your eyes.
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @02:57PM (#16203193) Journal
    In an effort to cutdown wasteful spending, Congress today cut all funding for the budget tracking site that would allow ornery citizens to find how the money is spent. Senator Bridge To Nowhere said, "It is not as if these morons can stop us from spending the money. Then why waste money helping them find the wasteful spending?".
  • Re:Meh. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by eln ( 21727 ) * on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @03:03PM (#16203311)
    The law is aimed to "prevent government waste," and they are only showing about $1 trillion of the budget. This means that they will be picking out programs they want to eliminate, and putting them in this database (making sure to describe them in an unflattering way) in order to drum up support for cutting them.

    This is purely a political move. Unless he plans on putting every single budget item on the Internet (including every item in the Defense budget), there is no way this is ever going to be used as anything but propaganda to cut Bush's least favorite programs.
  • Greatly Needed (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CastrTroy ( 595695 ) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @03:04PM (#16203343) Homepage
    I would love to have something like this in Canada. It's well known by anybody who has ever worked in government that most departments spend their remaining budget on plasma TVs, new computers, agendas (the paper kind), and other expensive or unneeded things right near the end of the fiscal year. The rational is that if you don't use up your budget, you'll get less next year, because you obviously don't need the money you aren't spending. Something like this could help cut down on this type of activity.
  • by Catamaran ( 106796 ) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @03:05PM (#16203373)
    From the article:
    The law is aimed preventing wasteful spending by opening the federal budget to greater scrutiny. The information is already available, but the Web site would make it easier for those who aren't experts on the process to see how taxpayer dollars are being spent.

    You can get a lot of info from the GAO []. Unfortunately, W doesn't seem to be albe to get them to spin the numbers in his favor, hence this bill.
  • Grass-roots Effort (Score:5, Insightful)

    by adavies42 ( 746183 ) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @03:06PM (#16203385)
    The real story here is that the Porkbusters [] group of bloggers are the people who kept this issue visible enough to get it passed over the efforts of Ted "series of tubes" Stevens and Robert "reformed Klansman" Byrd. I'd have thought /. would want to highlight the blogs' contribution to this event.
  • Re:Meh. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MindStalker ( 22827 ) <mindstalker AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @03:10PM (#16203485) Journal
    Me thinks this database is being built from publically readable spending bills. If you can find the spending searching through the thomas website it should also be on this website. Of course if that proves not to be the case I'd agree.
  • by Manchot ( 847225 ) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @03:13PM (#16203525)
    "Planned by White House?" Please! The bill is known as the "Coburn-Obama Transparency Bill" because Senators Barack Obama (D-IL) and Tom Coburn (R-OK) authored it. Bush did nothing to support the bill except sign it. In fact, one could make the argument that he had no choice but to do so, since if he did not, he would've inflicted severe damage upon the Republican party come November.
  • by $RANDOMLUSER ( 804576 ) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @03:20PM (#16203657)
    This is not news, this is wool being pulled over your eyes.

    Citizen, repeat after me:

    "Alpha children wear grey They work much harder than we do, because they're so frightfully clever. I'm really awfuly glad I'm a Beta, because I don't work so hard. And then we are much better than the Gammas and Deltas. Gammas are stupid. They all wear green, and Delta children wear khaki. Oh no, I don't want to play with Delta children. And Epsilons are still worse. They're too stupid to be able."
  • by daves ( 23318 ) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @03:22PM (#16203693) Journal
    For an accessible view of the budget, check out at the poster "Death and Taxes". []
  • Of course (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Cervantes ( 612861 ) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @03:44PM (#16204161) Journal
    Of course they were happy to approve this. It'll take effect just as the Republicans are getting relegated to "Minority Party" status, and then they can use it to sit around for the next 4 years going "I looked at this website, which a Republican President created, and found that for the last 9 years we've been paying Haliburton $500 per second in 'Consultant Fees'. For shame, Democrats, for shame!"
    Really, Joe Q Public won't know that Item X was actually attached to a spending bill in 1998 and is legislated to be in there for 20 years. He'll just go in, see "Hammer - $500" and blame the current Democratic administration.
  • Re:Proof (Score:2, Insightful)

    by xmodem_and_rommon ( 884879 ) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @03:45PM (#16204169)
    Cost? 10x what it needs to be. Benefit? ACCOUNTABLITY, YOU CORRUPT ASSHOLE.
  • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @03:49PM (#16204229)
    People like a single point for credit and blame and that's the president. Notice how the economy is always ascribed to the president when in reality he has very little to do with it. Good or bad, things tend to fall on the president's shoulders. You see it here on /. all the time, when a law gets passed people don't like they talk about how "Bush passed a law" and so on. Now granted he gave the law an implicit pass by not vetoing it, but it ignores the people who actually wrote it, and who voted on it.

    I've given up on correcting people on it for the most part, it is just how it goes.
  • Re:Meh. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hey! ( 33014 ) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @04:10PM (#16204631) Homepage Journal
    Ah - so he should only look for ways to cut his favorite programs?

    Of course not. However, he's presenting a selective view of things. Granted politicians do that all the time, but people expect that. They don't expect databases to have a political slant.

    It comes down to this: when does truth matter? It's not the truthfulness of data in the database that's necessarily at issue. What's at issue is making people think they're informed when in fact they're misinformed. Metadata makes all the difference.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @04:38PM (#16205223)
    The bill was sponsored by two Democrats (Carper and Obama) and one Republican (Coburn). There was an attempted block on it by one Republican (Stevens) and one Democrat (Byrd). A Republican (Bush) signed the bill into law. It can't be viewed as anything but a bipartisan effort, and though a certain amount of skepticism is always healthy, let's see what comes of this project before we dismiss it.
  • by jdavidb ( 449077 ) * on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @04:41PM (#16205255) Homepage Journal

    The solution, of course, would be to allow citizens to annotate the entries for their fellow citizens, and to rate the contributions of their fellow citizens to allow popular opinions the visibility they deserve.

    Actually, I think the solution to all this is a free market. But what do I know...

  • by NMerriam ( 15122 ) <> on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @06:11PM (#16206923) Homepage
    Notice how the economy is always ascribed to the president when in reality he has very little to do with it.

    I don't disagree with the gist of your post, but I always have to correct people when they say the president has nothing to do with the economy. First of all, the President appoints the Chair of the Federal Reserve, who more than any other single person on Earth can directly manipulate the economy to achive specific goals.

    He also acts as probably the most significant factor when it comes to affecting consumer confidence. Policy proposals that on paper would have a neutral economic effect can have a very benefical or negative effect depending on how well the President sells that policy to the public.

    One of the criticisms levied against both Presidents Bush is that they were not effective at convincing the general public they were concerned about economic well-being or were working to improve things. Indeed, rather than doing so they both simply tried to explain that the President doesn't have much power over the economy. Contrast them with Reagan and Clinton, who both had very different outlooks and economic policies but through sheer force of charisma convinced mainstream America that the economy would improve (regardless of whether they were doing anything tangible to bring about such an improvement).

    There is also the matter of budgetary power, which varies greatly depending on whether the President's party is in control of Congress. Yes, Congress officially is the one who controls the budget, but when both branches are controlled by the same party, the President is the one in the driver's seat, as his proposed budget is usually introduced by party loyalists with few changes. When the parties are in opposition, the President can only control a few major budget matters through the use of the bully pulpit and the veto, but the Congress will take more of the credit or blame for the overall budget during that time.

    It is these times of opposition where you'll have the most disagreement over who deserves credit -- obviously by my example above (Reagan/Clinton), I tend to credit the President more than the Congress, since I think consumer confidence matters more to overall economic performance than any particular part of a reasonable federal budget.
  • by db32 ( 862117 ) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @06:39PM (#16207345) Journal
    Or more than likely, like most of the suddenly less stupid things as of late...he knows America is pissed as hell, that as high as 60% want a total replacement of all incumbents in this election...that his support is pathetic...and that his control over the other 2 branches is not going to be very good if all of his little R friends are replaced by Ds.

    The populace tends to stay terribly uninformed...but enough noise has been made about "They have Dubya Em Dees!" "Ooops, ok well Saddam and Bin Laden were working together!" "Ooops, well uhm...we are bringing freedom to the..." Yeah...people are starting to catch on that this guy can't seem to breath a word of truth about much of his policy.

    Even a growing wave of his own party is turning against him...I suspect history will not be kind to Condi, Rummy, and the Shrub. And what the hell happened to Cheney don't hear shit about him anymore...safely tucked away after the Halliburton stuff came out.

Due to lack of disk space, this fortune database has been discontinued.