A major problem with emergency spending programs such as the AIG bailout and the Troubled Assets Relief Program is that the true depth of the threat to our economy hasn’t been clearly defined. Taxpayers aren’t being told what their money is accomplishing, let alone what it’s supposed to accomplish.
The transparency problem extends to the general budget process. As a presidential candidate, Obama promised to promote openness by posting the contents of any bill for at least five days before it would become law. If he’d remained true to that pledge, bloggers, journalists and the general public would have had time to comb through the near-trillion dollar “stimulus” package lawmakers passed in February.
It’s entirely possible that someone could have seen the Dodd amendment (and how the Treasury had changed it) that ended up allowing insurance company AIG to pay some employees huge bonuses. Our country could have avoided the political circus we’ve seen in recent days.
It doesn’t seem like too much to ask for members of Congress to read the bills they pass. If they won’t voluntarily, we need to embarrass them into it by reviewing their handiwork and criticizing it before it becomes law.
Transparency is critical to an honest budget and responsible spending. Indeed, it’s the only way we can hold policymakers and bureaucrats accountable for what they do with our money.