LaHood: Ban lobbyists, earmarks in second stimulus

AP News
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Posted: Dec 10, 2009 3:05 PM

The latest government effort to create jobs should have the same tough restrictions on lobbyists and lawmakers' pet projects as the $787 billion stimulus plan did, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said Thursday.

LaHood is the first official to say whether the administration wants to replicate the requirements of last February's economic aid package. That plan mandated that every dollar be reported online, that Congress could not steer money toward earmarks and recipients had to disclose how many jobs were being created.

"We've set a pretty high bar and I believe that hopefully Congress will look at that as an opportunity to say, 'Hey this has worked pretty well, and we should replicate this on the way forward for another bill,'" LaHood said after a speech Thursday.

The White House has sidestepped questions about whether it wants such requirements on the next round of stimulus spending. In broad strokes, President Barack Obama has said he wants to spend billions more on highway and bridge construction, small business tax cuts and repairs to make homes more energy-efficient.

With huge amounts of data available online, the stimulus provided the administration its biggest transparency success story. But it also was a costly effort that caused headaches when reporters discovered data errors and government watchdogs said they could not verify the numbers.

Asked whether the second stimulus could work with all the restrictions of the first, LaHood replied: "I can't think of a reason why it can't."