It was a banner headline from the Obama Housing Department:
"HUD ALLOCATES MORE THAN $10 BILLION OF RECOVERY ACT FUNDING ONE WEEK AFTER BILL SIGNING"
The money, according to HUD, is going out immediately to states in desperate need of fast cash to repair deteriorating public housing and other big projects.
But the cash isn't all that fast after all. What HUD actually did was to notify local branches that they could start applying for the money. Hiring contractors to catch up on years of neglected maintenance won't take place for at least a month, after the bids go out and the contracts are approved.
As for many of the other big "shovel ready" projects, there are environmental impact studies to be done, public hearings to be held, and local legislative calendars to consider.
There are a few examples of recovery money actually being spent: jobless people in New Hampshire get $25 more a week in their unemployment checks starting now, and some local school boards have managed to avoid or minimize layoffs in anticipation of federal dollars. Realtors report a "buzz" about new money for first time home buyers, but none yet lining up to snap up all those empty foreclosed homes.
There is however one group of workers who are incredibly busy all of a sudden- all those consultants who advise state and local governments how best to tailor their programs to qualify for the federal billions.
And by "consultants" we mean lobbyists, who understand how the federal bureaucracy works and know exactly how to apply for this grant or that program. Their shovels are already out, digging through the rules of the recovery, so they in turn can shovel the money back to the towns and cities that really need it. For a fee, of course.
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
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