September 27, 2013
Obama administration 'finds' $100 million for Detroit
The Constitution gives Congress the power to appropriate monies for public use. And while no formal vote has ever been taken, the negative public sentiments expressed by members for bailing out the bankrupt city of Detroit has been bi-partisan and nearly unanimous.
So, of course, the Obama administration is ignoring Congress, ignoring the Constitution, and going ahead with at least a partial bailout of the destitute city anyway.
This is like an Easter Egg Hunt through the federal budget. See how many goodies you can find if you look hard enough?
The federal money being directed Detroit's way by the U.S. government totals more than $100 million and will be augmented with about $200 million more in resources from foundations and Detroit businesses, but it falls far short of the wider bailout some in the city had sought.
"Something is better than nothing," said Bridgette Shephard, 47, a social worker who lives in Detroit. "A bailout would have been better, but if we can sustain some of our needs with grants that would be a start. Let's take it. Whatever kind of money it is to benefit the city, I'm all for it."
Gene Sperling, chief economic adviser to President Barack Obama, said the administration scrounged through the federal budget and found untapped money that "either had not flowed or had not gotten out or not directed to the top priorities for Detroit."
Sperling and three other top Obama aides -- U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan -- will meet with state and local officials Friday.
The Obama administration repeatedly had signaled it would not offer a massive federal bailout like the one credited with helping rescue Chrysler and General Motors.
"There is not going to be a bailout," Democratic U.S. Sen. Carl Levin told The Associated Press on Wednesday. "We have enough problems with the federal deficit. We need to be creative and look at existing programs. There are still some funds there."
The funding announced by Sperling will include $65 million in Community Development Block Grants for blight eradication, $25 million in a public-private collaboration for commercial building demolition and nearly $11 million in funds to ensure working families can live in safe neighborhoods.
Holder will announce $3 million that, in part, will be used to hire new police officers. About $25 million also will be expedited to Detroit to hire about 140 firefighters and buy new gear.
Of course, no one in government would dream of pouring over the federal budget to find expenditures like this that can be cut. Or examining the budget with a microscope to weed out waste and overspending. That's an inefficient use of a bureaucrat's time.
It used to be that if a department or agency came down to the end of the fiscal year with cash still available, they would go on a shopping spree, buying new furniture, office equipment, and incidentals in order to spend every last dime appropriated. Otherwise, the agency would risk having its budget cut the following year.
I don't think they can get away with that anymore. But the idea that the administration can just go through the budget and earmark underspent funds for a pet project is pretty outrageous - especially since Congress didn't authorize it and wouldn't approve of it if the president sent a bill up to the Hill.