Theodore's World: The RAT Hiding Deep Inside The Stimulus Bill

« Iwo Jima Tribute To Our Heroes | Main | Senator Shelby Questions Obama Eligibility »

February 23, 2009

The RAT Hiding Deep Inside The Stimulus Bill

Good guy Sen. Charles Grassley

The RAT hiding deep inside the stimulus bill


By Byron York
Chief political correspondent

The far-reaching — and potentially dangerous — provision that no one knows about.

You’ve heard a lot about the astonishing spending in the $787 billion economic stimulus bill, signed into law this week by President Barack Obama.

But you probably haven’t heard about a provision in the bill that threatens to politicize the way allegations of fraud and corruption are investigated — or not investigated — throughout the federal government.

The provision, which attracted virtually no attention in the debate over the 1,073-page stimulus bill, creates something called the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board — the RAT Board, as it’s known by the few insiders who are aware of it.

The board would oversee the in-house watchdogs, known as inspectors general, whose job is to independently investigate allegations of wrongdoing at various federal agencies, without fear of interference by political appointees or the White House.

In the name of accountability and transparency, Congress has given the RAT Board the authority to ask “that an inspector general conduct or refrain from conducting an audit or investigation.” If the inspector general doesn’t want to follow the wishes of the RAT Board, he’ll have to write a report explaining his decision to the board, as well as to the head of his agency (from whom he is supposedly independent) and to Congress. In the end, a determined inspector general can probably get his way, but only after jumping through bureaucratic hoops that will inevitably make him hesitate to go forward.

When Iowa Republican Sen. Charles Grassley, a longtime champion of inspectors general, read the words “conduct or refrain from conducting,” alarm bells went off. The language means that the board — whose chairman will be appointed by the president — can reach deep inside a federal agency and tell an inspector general to lay off some particularly sensitive subject. Or, conversely, it can tell the inspector general to go after a tempting political target.
“This strikes at the heart of the independence of inspectors general,” Grassley told me this week, in a phone conversation between visits to town meetings in rural Iowa. “Anytime an inspector general has somebody questioning his authority, it tends to dampen the aggressiveness with which they pursue something, particularly if it’s going to make the incumbent administration look bad.”
I asked Grassley how he learned that the RAT Board was part of the stimulus bill. You’d think that as a member of the House-Senate conference committee, he would have known all about it. But it turns out Grassley’s office first heard about the provision creating the RAT Board last Wednesday, in a tip from a worried inspector general. It wasn’t until Friday morning — after the bill was finished and just hours before the Senate was to begin voting — that Grassley discovered the board was in the final text. “This was snuck in,” Grassley told me. “It wasn’t something that was debated.”
Snuck in by whom? It’s not entirely clear. “I intend to get down to the bottom of where this comes from,” Grassley vowed. “And quite frankly, it better not come from this administration, because this administration has reminded us that it is not about business as usual, that it is for total transparency.”
Maybe not this time. When I inquired with the office of a Democratic senator, one who is a big fan of inspectors general, I was told the RAT Board was “something the Obama administration wanted included in this bill.” When I asked the White House, staffers told me they’d look into it. So for now, at least, there’s been no claim of paternity.

The RAT Board has all sorts of other things wrong with it. For one thing, it’s redundant; there is already a board through which inspectors general police themselves, created last year in the Inspectors General Reform Act. For another thing, it could complicate criminal investigations stemming from inspector general probes. And then there’s the question of what it has to do with stimulating the economy.

But none of that matters now. It’s the law.

Last Friday, when he learned the RAT Board was in the final bill, Grassley wanted to voice his objections on the Senate floor. But there was no time in the rush to a vote, so Grassley’s statement went unread. “It’s fitting that the acronym for this board is RAT,” he was prepared to tell the Senate, “because that’s what I smell here.”

Wild Thing's comment..........

Wow. I wonder what other "jewels" have been snuck into this "stimulus" package.

Thank you Sen. Charles Grassley, keep up the good work.
It is becoming more obvious day after day that this package is simply designed to entrench the Democrat Party with power for decades. Reward the irresponsible, expand the welfare state, spread the wealth, and oh, allow us to get away with murder if we so choose.

I am glad Sen. Charles Grassley is pointing this new law that was snuck into the bill. I hope more of them do this as they find out things.

Posted by Wild Thing at February 23, 2009 07:55 AM


Obama and the media created the crisis that forced this to be ramrodded through. Impeach the SOB now and bring charges of treason against the media!!!

Posted by: Jack at February 23, 2009 08:58 AM

Who could possibly know what else is lurking on that 1100 page package-o-pork? No one read it! "They" could put just about anything they wanted in there - and we can be sure "they" did just that - and now that it has been signed, sealed and delivered, it's ours!

Posted by: BT in SA at February 23, 2009 09:27 AM

Hey NICK.... "LOCK 'N LOAD" for your ABC-TV services are needed again 40-years later:
Frau Vader still wants to know from you 'Yankee Imperialist Gangster Cowboys' how your Sherman Jeeps knocked out Rommel's Afrikanner Korps Panzer tanks with machine guns? "Good guys wear gray!"

Posted by: darthcrUSAderworldtour07 at February 23, 2009 10:06 AM

We're gonna need a lot more rope than I anticipated to hang all of these traitorus bastards. I'm thinking guilliotines would be much better and we could stick their heads on poles for all to see what happens when you fuck with the American people.

Posted by: cuchieddie at February 23, 2009 10:27 AM

It will take years to find out all the underhanded amd maybe even illegal provisions of this stimulus bill. Not only was this bill drawn up by Democrat politicians, it was also penned by their staffers. Some of the provisions were added by pencil in the margin.

This is the unread, quickly passed stimulus bill that is probably unconstitutional in many of it's provisions. That matters not to Obama and the Democrats. They just want the increased power it gives to the Federal govt. and to Democrats in particular. This is abuse of power at the highest levels of govt. There will be more of this abuse.

Posted by: TomR at February 23, 2009 10:48 AM

I have to agree with all of you and what an apt name for this board, "the RAT board" apparently brought to us by the king rat itself.

Posted by: Bob A at February 23, 2009 12:30 PM

The provisions that the Republican Governors are looking at are ones that increase welfare rolls and finance corruption of our political process. They are very much like those thousand dollar checks that the used car dealers’ mail out where you are committed to buying their cars before the check is worth anything.

These provisions essentially gives a state dollars during this Governor's term in exchange for commitment that the states in the future will pay for tens of dollars worth of welfare to environmentalists, community organizers and other vermin.

Posted by: Avitar at February 23, 2009 01:42 PM

The first ones to swing shall be The media they are the ones who got this bunch elected. But I think Piano wire does a much nicer job, especially if the fall is way too high.

Posted by: Mark at February 23, 2009 02:40 PM

Jack,exactly and not one of those guilty, like Barney Frank, Dodd, Maxine Waters, none of them have been put in the hot seat about they fight to not allow Fannie Mae and Mac to have it regulated. This whole thing started with them and then the avalance began.

Posted by: Wild Thing at February 23, 2009 06:29 PM

BT in SA, your right and it is scary to think what could be in there we still have not found out about yet. I can't believe all of this is happening. My reality knows it but my heart is in shock.

Posted by: Wild Thing at February 23, 2009 06:31 PM

Darth, hahaha Tell her hi from me.

I wish they would show that TV series again. It would make Nicholas so happy especially.

Posted by: Wild Thing at February 23, 2009 06:35 PM

cuchieddie, thatis exactly what they are "traitorus bastards".

Posted by: Wild Thing at February 23, 2009 06:39 PM

Tom, everything you said, it so true. Well said Tom. This nightmare of treason has only just begun.

Posted by: Wild Thing at February 23, 2009 06:42 PM

Bob A., yes it really is the perfect name for it.

Posted by: Wild Thing at February 23, 2009 06:45 PM

Avitar, thanks for the information.

I wish they would look the bigger picture and not just the oh boy we are gonig to get some money to do some things. I would hate to be owned and have to do what the person tells me to that bought me out of a financial problem.

Thaks again.

Posted by: Wild Thing at February 23, 2009 06:49 PM

Mark, the Media has a lot of blame about all of this. I agree Mark.

Posted by: Wild Thing at February 23, 2009 06:51 PM