Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Surfing the Stimulus

Now that the damned thing is signed, the White House has finally set up its Simulus-tracking website. I have to say, I'm unimpressed.

In order to get to the text of the thing, you have to click through to at least two external sites, each click popping up an obnoxious "You're leaving our precious site!" window, and the last (promising the actual text) is overloaded and is timing out.

So I'm left to look through the handful of things on the site. First thing that grabs me: numbers! And hey, tax breaks are the top item... right? What's the asterisk say? "* Tax Relief - includes $15 B for Infrastructure and Science, $61 B for Protecting the Vulnerable, $25 B for Education and Training and $22 B for Energy, so total funds are $126 B for Infrastructure and Science, $142 B for Protecting the Vulnerable, $78 B for Education and Training, and $65 B for Energy." So, does that mean that there's not actually as much "tax relief" as the number more than implies? Or merely that they tried to be as multi-purpose with it as possible? This ambiguity strikes me as dishonest and lazy. The technology and bandwidth both exist to explain this, in text and visually, in an intelligible way. When an administration that has proven to be adept at communicating suddenly falls down like that, I get suspicious.

OK, whatever. Hey, a timeline! I don't know why, but I'm irritated that they didn't do this as a Gantt chart.

Well, it's plainly a work in progress, and I'm gratified that the FAQ mentions that they might eventually have actual user-readable data on the site instead of pre-digested mush. I would love to get my hands on the text itself, but that'll have to wait until they get their act in gear bandwidth-wise. (Oh, and it's not an "unprecedented effort". The oft-repeated precedent would be the New Deal.)

1 comment:

  1. I wonder how far that timeline widget goes. I got sick of scrolling after 2030. (The latest date with information posted is June '09...)