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Top Of The Ticket

Latest Web buzz is right on the money

March 01, 2009|Andrew Malcolm and Johanna Neuman

LOS ANGELES AND WASHINGTON — The website created by the Obama administration to help taxpayers follow the money -- www.recovery.gov -- is becoming an Internet sensation.

Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag, in the first meeting of the overview committee headed by Vice President Joe Biden to monitor how the $787 billion is being spent, said Wednesday that the new site is getting 3,000 hits per second.

Biden called the effort to track stimulus money "unprecedented."

Promising to use "the moral approbation of this office," Biden said that he will do everything he can to make sure that unlike last time, federal funds meant to stimulate the economy are actually used to create jobs and rebuild the nation's infrastructure.

"As we go along," Biden told the team, "I'm going to be a bit of a pain in the neck."

Stimulus watchdog Earl Devaney, a former cop and Secret Service agent turned inspector general who exposed a sex-and-drugs scandal in the Interior Department during the Bush administration, also touted transparency:

"OMB has gotten that [website] up and running, and I think I'll be at some point taking that over and trying to build that into what it's intended to be. It's an historic website that will allow transparency that we've never seen before.

"And the goal -- my goal will be for the average citizen to be able to go on that website and follow the money. And in large part I think I'll be hearing a lot from citizens, as you mentioned, if they see things that they don't like, and hopefully we'll get some attention to misuse of any of this money."

And if the money is not getting to the people for whom it was intended, Biden said, he will "go out on television" and point fingers.

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Who hearts Schwarzenegger?

The good news for California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is he can't run again.

The bad news for California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is California doesn't like him much anymore.

A new poll out Thursday shows that only a third of the state's residents approve of his job performance -- and that poll by the Public Policy Institute was taken before the governor pressured fellow Republicans to approve $12.5 billion in new taxes to cover the state's budget deficit.

Imagine how well he'd do now.

Californians also don't like state legislators -- but even more so. They approve of them by a record low-tying 21%. Schwarzenegger's record low was 32% in 2005.

On the other hand, 70% of Californians say they love President Obama. He's also proposing new taxes for some, but that seems farther away.

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A quick check of the facts

"I believe," Obama intoned Tuesday in his first address to Congress, "the nation that invented the automobile cannot walk away from it."

Which would mean France must underwrite its automobile industry. Because, oops, despite the false belief in tattered Michigan, Americans didn't invent the automobile.

In fact, they came late to the car business in 1893, with the French claiming a steam-powered vehicle in 1771 and 1873, and the Germans developing gas-powered models in the 1880s.

So, next time Obama gives that speech, he can say: "I believe firmly, and former Vice President Al Gore backs me up on this, that the nation that didn't invent the automobile still can't walk away from it."

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andrew.malcolm@latimes.com

Read Top of the Ticket, The Times' blog on national politics, at latimes.com /ticket.

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