How much did government agencies spend on stimulus ‘propaganda’? They’re not sure

Imagine, for a second, you work at the Environmental Protection Agency, and your job is to determine how much money EPA-funded stimulus projects spent on self-congratulatory, “your taxpayer dollars at work” stimulus signs.

EPA received more than $7 billion in stimulus funds, and so far that money has been directed to 4,687 projects, many of which purchased signs.

Do you, (a) comprehensively audit each project’s sign spending, (b) chose a random and representative sample of the projects to determine the scope of the sign spending or, (c) call up nine projects and call it a day?

If you picked “c,” come on down! Pressed by top GOP oversight official Rep. Darrell Issa for the exact amount EPA-funded projects have spent on the signs, EPA forwarded a nine-project survey from its Office of Inspector General.

As EPA Assistant Administrator Craig Hooks explained, the agency is unable to determine how much money was spent on the signs.

“EPA did not have information on the total cost of posting signs, logos or emblems related to the [economic stimulus law],” Hooks said in a Sept. 3 response, “Therefore we cannot provide an assessment of the total cost of posting signs, logos or emblems.”

Instead, the agency queried nine projects, finding projects spent from $3.20 to $945 on between one and 250 signs.

For one, $2 billion pot of money, EPA asked a single project about its sign spending.

As Issa and fellow oversight committee member Rep. Aaron Shock, Illinois Republican, note in a response to EPA and the other federal agencies that dismally failed to account for spending on the stimulus signs, “As you may know, sample sizes of at least 20 randomly selected and unbiased data points are typically required to produce an estimate that contains any meaningful information about a given population.”

Issa and Schock cite a statistics textbook, “Introductory Econometrics: A Modern Approach,” as evidence of this point.

Hooks defended evaluating only nine projects by saying his hands were tied behind his back by the Paperwork Reduction Act, which requires OMB approval for some agencies to “gather requested cost information.” An Issa spokesman was unsympathetic to the argument; the law in question was designed to reduce onerous paperwork requirements on businesses, not shield federal agencies from oversight.

Though EPA was the worst offender, other agencies questioned about stimulus sign spending were similarly uncooperative.

The General Services Administration (GSA), which operates many of the buildings belonging to the federal government, also appeared flustered by the questions.

“Signage costs are not identified as a separate line item … this makes it extremely difficult to accurately identify costs associated with individual project signs,” GSA’s Stephen Leeds wrote.

  • ladylove

    the point is, no one is being , now what was it the president demanded, just after he took office, from all government agencies.

    hmm, oh yes, fiscal responsibility, that’s it, the EPA has not been fiscally responsible.

    and that is the point of this story.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Todd-Dunning/507915883 Todd Dunning

    Flip, the reason you are going to have a very hard time here on this site is that we were all young, naive and liberal at one time also. Been there, done that.

    Think you’re smarter at 25 than you were at 15? Of course you are. Well, guess what? It keeps going that way, and that is why everybody gets more conservative the older they get. As Churchill said, “If at twenty you are not a liberal, you have no heart. And at thirty if you are not a conservative you have no brains”.

    Since you are clearly very young, here are two insurmountable challenges you’re taking on here:

    First is that the conservatives here have from the same amount to several times the amount of life experience and social/political/economic understanding.

    Second is that we were all once in your shoes, not totally understanding why the world works the way it does, and looking for a utopian solution that would fix it all. Plus a healthy dose of getting back at The Man. All of us here would have been Obamamaniacs in our teens and early twenties if not later.

    Therefore we know not only what you are going to say, but can chuckle at the memories of doing exactly as you are doing here; attempting to legitimize your utopian vision arrived at the last time the hookah was passed around your dorm.

  • Dakota54

    And…this is news? Since when do they care…much less care what the taxpayers think?

  • libertyatstake

    The story will be different next year, when it’s Chairman Issa.

    “Because the Only Good Progressive is a Failed Progressive”

  • krjohnson

    It doesn’t matter what they’re spending it on, it’s a waste! We’re borrowing 43 cents out of every dollar spent, is a new road really worth it? Was the new entrance to my local college worth it? No! Was the freshly paved (although perfectly fine before imho) road in front of my house worth it? No!!

    In my opinion, we should be discussing the real structural problems with the stimulus not the pittance obviously wasted on signs.

    • flips

      How would you have prevented a Second Great Depression?

      We’re all ears.

      • thephranc

        I wouldn’t have forced banks by law to make loans to undeserving borrowers. I wouldn’t have run business out of the country with to much government interference and taxes.

        Of course any one with a remedial understanding of economics knows that there are natural ups and downs and economies at times contract. Any one with a knowledge of economic history knows that more government prolongs the suffering and creates more problems. You have neither.

        Making you look stupid is so easy. Because you are.

        • flips

          Okay, Hooverism. Got it.

          Worked so well the first time.

          Thanks God you weren’t in charge.

          • thephranc

            Why exactly? Unlike your dumbass I actually back my statements up. Can you point out exactly what was wrong with my solutions chump?

          • truebearing

            You couldn’t explain Hooverism if your pathetic life depended on it. You also wouldn’t admit the racist, Fascist policies of Wilson and FDR if your mother’s life depended on it.

            FDR turned a depression into The Great Depression, and Obama turned a recession into a depression, maybe a total collapse.

            One thing you don’t do when times are tough is intimidate the investor class into hiding their money because of Marxist rhetoric, and legislation. You don’t overhaul the health care system instead of working to create jobs. You don’t create Kevorkian Care. You don’t burden small business with more regulation and more taxes. You don’t squander trillions and destroy the nations credit rating. You don’t party your ass off while everyone else is losing homes, jobs, and businesses. You don’t go against the entire rest of the world with your fiscal policy. You don’t ignore every warning sign that is flashing in your stupid face. You don’t listen to Tim Gheitner or Larry Summers. You don’t bail out one failure after another with hundreds of billions of dollars. You don’t raise taxes.

            Or, if you want the short form: don’t do ANYTHING Obama has done.

      • ojfl


        if the idea was to increase consumption to make up for the loss of income and unemployment, the best way was not to remove money from the economy. Yes that means tax cuts. Transfer payments do not do much for consumption. And infrastructure spending is temporary, even if properly applied, which this clearly was not. The economic benefit of infrastructure only comes if the lack of it or the conditions of it are impeding commerce, which does not seem the case. Also infrastructure spending should be a local matter as Washington cannot understand all local economies around the country. And it should not.

      • RoadtoFREEDOM

        Well, ups and downs are normal in a capitalistic society, and in nature, it’s like seasons.

        You can either realize that the creative destruction of the down times allows for the investment and improvements that lead to the next boom, or you can be a propeller head ‘command and control’ ego maniac and try to meddle in the process.

        Things like regulations, credit, taxes and spending, and interest rates all create ripples, distortions in the process… some amplify the upswing, some the downswing.

        The fact is, as with nature, humans running governments have a lousy track record of meddling because of a) corruption, b) unintended consequences, c) chaos theory that makes too many variables for even super smart central planners to correctly manage the economy.

        then, the fact that Government is not and never has been a purely altruistic thing… and instead is corrupt due to its power… and you have even more fun when politicians make back room deals, crony capitalism further distorts the market… and young guns like yourself then conclude that ‘capitalism doesn’t work, we need government oversight’ bla bla bla.

        See Todd Dunning’s comment above. Then READ some books by folks who are not Keynesian or Marxist inspired dorks. Consider Adam Smith, Hayek, Mises, or Milton Friedman… and by consider, I mean actually consider it and compare the RESULTS we have to what free market economists would have predicted.

        You can’t create an economy that always goes up on a steady angle. The question then becomes, what do you do about the down swings?

        Free market guys like me trust in mother nature, human nature, and economic history – so we want to help people understand the forces at work and educate themselves. Obama and his ilk are all about protecting people from reality, supposedly, and they create dependence, ignorance, and when their magician’s apprentice meddling makes an even bigger mess than a normal up/down swing cycle, they hurt people far worse and don’t know how to fix it.

        The way to prevent the 2nd Great Depression is not to have meddled in the first place.

        BTW, your undetstanding of ‘Hooverism’ leaves out the fact that he failed to extend tax cuts… fodder for further reading, eh sparky?

  • doncicciofitipaldi

    Whoever wrote this dumb article should learn the difference between INFORMATION and POPAGANDA. If the info presented is TRUE is is NOT PROPAGANDA. The converse applies. If a sign is posted by a site funded by the stimulus it is NOT propaganda. It is simply information for misguided people that scream at the top of their lungs that “the Stimulus did not create any jobs” and other nonsense.

    • flips

      I like seeing those signs. My tax dollars at work doing something useful.

      Much better use of our tax dollars than Bush’s TARP program.

      • didacticrogue

        My tax dollars at work …

        Funny, but I honestly would have pegged you as being part of the 47% of Americans who pay no federal income taxes.

        • flips

          I pay plenty of taxes and I’m glad to help contribute as a successful person in this great nation.

          Taxes are the entry ticket for living in a civilized nation with public resources I enjoy, like national parks, public schools, and the interstate highway system.

          Anti-tax people are mostly freeloaders who take gladly social security and medicare but don’t want to pay their fair share.

          • The_anniebanannie

            Again with the ignorance — as you been schooled on many times before, and if you really paid taxes you would know, Social Security and Medicare come out of my paycheck every period. It’s my money, stupid. Obviously, you really don’t pay any taxes because your ignorance on how they are spent is astounding. You also flunked civics class in school because you clearly don’t understand what the role of federal government is. Your discredited screed about national parks and interstate highways proves my point.

          • flips


            When you burn your social security and medicare cards (which younger workers are paying for you) and when you stay the heck off our interstate highways, that were built as a giant socialst project in the 1950s-70s, then I will believe you hate “big government.”

            Until then you are just another lazy teabagger enjoying federal handouts.

            Just like the rest of the aged, overweight, Fox crowd.

          • The_anniebanannie

            Again, you show you don’t understand how Social Security or Medicare works. “Young” people are not paying my Social Security — it comes directly out of my checks. Tell us, where in that scenario is anybody else contributing to my SS?

            One thing we can always count on from you flips is when it’s been shown how
            ignorant you are about something, you double down on it just to make sure we REALLY see it.

            Now, how does being knowledgeable about how my taxes work make me “lazy and overweight”?

          • The_anniebanannie

            Oh, sorry “aged and overweight”….which is even dumber, considering I won’t even qualify to draw SS for another decade or more.

            It’s those “aged” workers that are paying your welfare check, Babyboy.

          • flips

            We all pay into a pot to support one another.

            Those letters you get every year that say what is in “your” account are a myth. There really isn’t an account with your name on it. Hate to be the one that breaks that news to you.

            Without a steady stream of new workers, SS and Medicare will dry up.

            That is why the grumpy elderly will soon change their tune on allowing immigrants to become taxpaying citizens. We will need them to help pay the bills when we get old.

          • The_anniebanannie

            “Without a steady stream of new workers, SS and Medicare will dry up.”

            No sh!t, Sherlock! That’s why the conservatives have been trying to fix it for years, but the dems would rather have their hands in it, spending it as fast as we pay into it.

            “grumpy elderly”….obviously you have mommy issues or something. Several times you have made nasty remarks about the elderly in this country. Many of them, like my parents, worked for decades and didn’t get to draw a dime of THEIR money back out. Stop being a childish little snot and respect your elders. You lefties don’t seem to mind fleecing the elderly when it serves your cause, but can’t be bothered to respect them any other times.

          • ojfl


            taxes are not the entry ticket into a civilized society. Respect for the rule of law is.

          • MerryJ1

            The Interstate Highway System was not built as part of a “giant socialist program” in the 1950’s – 1970’s. The Interstate Highway System was designed and built for national security purposes, to facilitate transport of military personnel, equipment and vehicles to any area in event of an invasion.

            Its service as a good highway system for citizens is a nice fringe benefit, but it was not the primary consideration.

          • RoadtoFREEDOM

            You and Don Don are priceless. What lasting value do these signs produce that you two are so proud of? You can quibble about whether it is ‘truth’ or ‘propaganda’, but the fact remains that these signs are one time busy work at best and create artificial ‘jobs’ that go away once the infusion of stimulus money goes away.

            In a nutshell, that is why stimulus doesn’t work. companies motivated by profit for the owner or share holder create businesses that hire workers to achieve those goals – and creating disincentives like taxes and regulations inevitably cost jobs, raise the price of goods, and therefore, hurt everyone, those who can least afford it, the most.

            Roads, security, etc. are legitimate roles for our govt to play as they are IN the Constitution. Where you find Social Security in the Founders vision, I don’t know – and you are dead wrong about the ‘socialistic’ nature of the Interstate highway system, as Annie has already explained.

            A minimal Fair Tax would easily pay for such infrastructure… it’s the 60% of the budget, and growing, that goes to entitlement programs that will bankrupt the country.

            Did you know, that until 1914 the United states didn’t have your much admired Income Tax OR Social Security? When was the 1st Great Depression? Just a decade and a half later… HMMM.

            Ponder that… boys.

      • The_anniebanannie

        And there it is…..total ignorance.

        You don’t know the difference between what the stimulus was designed to do and TARP….except you could attach Bush’s name to TARP. Now you’re insinuating you think TARP was a bad thing? That sure doesn’t match what you’ve said before. You just can’t control that Bush derangement, can you.

        A troll and a dishonest one at that.

        • flips

          The bankster bailout was Bush.

          • The_anniebanannie

            Riiiiight, you might want to check on that a little bit…since ALL of Obama’s financial guru’s were in on every step from design to deciding on how it was spent. In fact, it was Obama’s team that decided how the full second half of the money was spent. So, you can quit calling it “Bush’s TARP”….it was a joint effort due to the timeframe and having Obama just getting elected.

          • RoadtoFREEDOM

            Sigh… once again, we debate who was more evil, Progressive Bush or Giant Progressive Obama. Neither are free market, limited govt guys… two defend or debate between them is just stupid bickering. They both suck… happy now Flips?

          • The_anniebanannie

            I’ll disagree with part of that RtoF…W. Bush was totally free market. Where are you coming up with that accusation from?

          • RoadtoFREEDOM

            TARP, mostly.

      • thephranc

        So you like seeing waste of tax dollars?

        • flips

          I like seeing public investment in our infrastructure. Something conservatives never seem to do when they are in power.

          • thephranc

            Signs are not infrastructure. You said you like seeing the signs. You really are stupid aren’t you. Conservatives didn’t spend 1 trillion of “infrastructure”. See thats somethings states should do. Other then the Eisenhower Express system the feds have no need to spend money on roads. By the way have you been to the cities that progressive have run for years? How are those roads doing?

      • ojfl

        Funny you mention TARP flips. The Treasury and the Fed are gloating TARP is giving revenues through the interest collected on the loans. If it was that bad, why would Treasury and the Fed do such a thing?

    • didacticrogue

      Main Entry: pro·pa·gan·da
      Pronunciation: \ˌprä-pə-ˈgan-də, ˌprō-\
      Function: noun
      Etymology: New Latin, from Congregatio de propaganda fide Congregation for propagating the faith, organization established by Pope Gregory XV †1623
      Date: 1781

      3: ideas, **→ facts, ←** or allegations spread deliberately to further one’s cause or to damage an opposing cause; also : a public action having such an effect

      Wrong again, donnie.

    • truebearing

      donnysissy, you moron, the issue isn’t whether one or two jobs were created, it is were enough created to justify the amount of the stimulus, and the answer is a resounding NOT EVEN CLOSE! Many of those created jobs cost a half million dollars a piece. Even someone of your limited intellect can see that isn’t acceptable or sustainable.

      How much money should it cost to create a job, nit wit? lets hear your specific number. Then we can calculate how many jobs can be created. Before you chimp your way through the calculations, remember this: it has to be a job that will last longer than the summer. It has to be sustainable, and the funds that pay the worker have to be there year after year, not just for a corrupt census taking or painting signs.

      Did Obama have any signs made that are helpful and accurate, like: Disaster Ahead! or Commie Takeover, or Moron-In-Chief, or Quiet! Golfing Chimp.

      • RoadtoFREEDOM

        Ballpark, I’ve read that the jobs created, such as they are able to be validated, work out to be in the neighborhood of 200k each.

        I bet every one of those new ’employees’ would rather have just received a check for 200k instead of having to make propaganda signs for Bamby.

        Hey, at least then they would have gone out and bought fancy cars, big screen TV’s, and CONSUMED something that would have helped some businesses.

        Then again, they would soon be broke again, since the trick couldn’t be duplicated… and consumption would again go down… and thus, the inescapable fact stares you once again in the face… the government can’t create jobs by borrowing money and dumping it on the economy like this in any lasting or meaningful way.

        Any jobs that ARE created could more efficiently been created by the private sector – because even govt jobs that ARE long term siphon money out of the private sector in the form of taxes, which at best are passed on to the consumer in the form of higher prices, or at worst, cripple the companies and kill jobs – and in any case, this is all borrowed money that Obama is spending, so we have to factor in the interest on the debt, too.

        Think of this stuff like gravity. What goes up MUST come down.

        Stop fooling yourselfs and educate yourself.

        Don, you’ve posted here repeatedly that you don’t really have much economic backgrouund… if you are gonna debate this topic, you better put away the snark and do some reading before you should expect to be taken seriously.

        As for Flips, I don’t know what your problem is, but hey, my advice remains the same.

        Read Road to Serfdom… or Milton Friedman, if the older stuff is too intimidating.

  • Pingback: How much did government agencies spend on stimulus ‘propoganda’? They’re not sure | Conservatives for America

  • logic

    This is government inefficiency, ineffectiveness, waste, lack of concern and disregard for our money in a nutshell. These agencies are the administration’s lapdogs and will dutifully (waste) spend the (stolen) money they have been given.

    The administration, never wanting to miss an opportunity to congratulate itself, demands signs be placed everywhere to ensure we all know how great they are. The hope is that the actual truth and failure of the program is lost in the hopey-changey euphoria we’re all feeling while stuck in three miles of stimulus-generated road construction traffic. But there is no need for that to distract from the idea of doing something, which as liberals prove every day, is far more important than truth.

    • doncicciofitipaldi

      If “news” agencies like Faux news and other didn’t spend millions trying to mislead the public into believeing that the Stimulus didn’t create any jobs, bla, bla, bla, the government wouldn’t have to spend money on these signs. Get a clue!!!

      • logic

        That’s cute. Obama should wear a shirt that says “Fox made me do it”. That will surely excuse any of his reckless policies.

        • Totzke

          BO’s shirt would have to have room for all the other things he conveniently blames: Fox, Bush, the GOP, Arizona, the fat cats, BP – good god my two-year old doesn’t whine that much! What an embarrassment !

          • RoadtoFREEDOM

            Oh my… the stimulus would have worked if only we had all believed more.

            Dude, only someone who had no economic knowledge would say something that stupid, and saying ‘get a clue’ won’t cover up your ignorance.

            Remember, you’ve admitted here that you have no real economic education… go read a book on economics and economic history that wasn’t written by a Marxist.

            NONE OF THIS is new. These debates have been going on for ages… and the big government folks have NOTHING to show for their arguments, only please for more taxes and more spending to keep the Ponzi scheme going.

      • thephranc

        Never seen Faux news before. What channel is it on?

      • ojfl


        maybe you should watch more of Faux News. What they say is that it is impossible to spend that much money and not have any effect but that the efficacy of the stimulus was far smaller than predicted and a lot of it was wasted.

        • truebearing

          donnysissy tried to watch Fox, but couldn’t understand it. He was confused that everyone didn’t say the same thing like on MSNBC or CNN. He gets confused with more than one idea a week.

  • gooners

    Yes, these signs are a threat to our Republic, we must know how much they cost!

    Just pay no mind to the $9 billion unaccounted for in Iraq way back in 2005.

    • didacticrogue

      Never change, gooney.

    • thephranc

      Waste is waste. All waste is bad.

    • flips

      Actually, Bush’s useless war in Iraq has cost us $750 billion so far. And most of that was put on the federal credit card.

      Bitching about Obama’s recovery signs is just more conservative hypocrisy.

      • The_anniebanannie

        Like I said above, you just can’t control your BDS….it’s sad, really.

        The irrational lefties like yourself have been screaming for years about how the money spent in Iraq (which the dems voted for) could feed X number of homeless, blah, blah,blah.

        Well, how many shelters could be funded by this waste spend on stupid signs that are designed solely for propping up Obama’s ego? How much health care could be provided with the money? How about potholes filled? Animal shelters? C’mon, flips, where are all your liberal causes now?

        • flips

          You just can’t give Obama one ounce of credit for keeping us out of another Great Depression.

          Here are a couple of charts you should check out.




          Recovery is coming. And Republicans don’t want the American people to know or hear about it. Thus the efforts to censor highway recovery job signs.

          • truebearing


            Obama turned a recession into a depression, and maybe a total collapse. We are teetering on the edge, and now the rest of the world is divesting themselves of their US treasuries. The dollar is weak, and many nations are calling for another international currency. If that happens we are in even worse shape. We are facing stagflation at best, and possibly Wiemar Republic style inflation if MaoBama keeps up his profligate spending.

            All of this because Obama refused to listen to economists from this country and others, in Canada, Europe, and even Communist China, who all warned him he was going in the wrong direction.

            Medicare is broke. Medicaid is broke. Social Security is broke. Many states are billions in debt. State pensions are ready to collapse. Foreclosures are exploding. Unemployment is going up. And the list goes on and on and on…..

            And you think we’re going to listen to a moron who has an immense track record of stupidity and dishonesty? You truly are deluded.

          • The_anniebanannie

            You’re giving me charts from a contract employment agency? with no data, no background information…..

            ” And Republicans don’t want the American people to know or hear about it. Thus the efforts to censor highway recovery job signs.”

            I think the people would know about it because they would notice that THEY HAVE A JOB!! Right now, THEY DON’T!! OH, oh,, I get it, it’s because the republicans are hiding the jobs under a blanket…sshhhhh, be vewy qwiet. We won’t tell…..

      • ojfl

        Even if we just consider the mathematics of it flips, I take wasting 750 billion dollars over eight years over wasting 818 billion dollars in 18 months.

        • RoadtoFREEDOM

          Well, at least the military creates jobs and a legitimate multiplier effect because of contractors and suppliers, etc.

          The ONE instance where I can think of where govt stimulated the economy was WWII – and I realize that is over simplifying, but at least, at least, the military is a legitimate function of govt.

          We can argue about what wars are legitimate, fine. But I defy anyone to demonstrate that idiotic studies like what coke does to chimps or posting signs to prove Obama was here is gonna do for the economy when said dollars flow through the projects…

          Even Cash for Clunkers boosted the car sales for just two months… and now we have rising used car prices because of the artificial reduction of supply of lower priced vehicles.

          You can’t distort the market and create lasting benefits. Sorry.

          you gotta get govt out of the way so people can create businesses that create value so they can get real customers and create jobs to help run and expand those businesses – end of story. As it has always been, and ever shall be.

          • RoadtoFREEDOM

            By the way, Don Don and Flips… I’m gonna criticize Bush now, must to prove my point… the first stimulus was a direct cash transfer of $600 or so to taxpayers, right?

            Did that do anything? No.

            Neither did Stimulus Grande by Obama.

            Same reason in both cases.

            Bush created more jobs with his imperfect tax cuts in 01 and 03… it’s beyond me why they didn’t rinse and repeat by further lowering taxes… oh wait, I do know why. Because they had spent too much and because the Demoturds had taken over congress and only wanted to cry about the war in Iraq and bash tax cuts for the rich.

            I have NO idea why that killed the rising economy up until 2007. No idea. Just have no clue… or… was it because both parties are run by morons who don’t understand economics?

    • Totzke

      good one. Looks like that response took some thought and energy…