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  • Government Alters Stimulus Sign Policy, Raising More Propaganda Questions

    In the 18 months following approval of President Obama’s stimulus package, the Department of Transportation required recipients of government funds to post placards touting the economic recovery. As a result, signs prominently featuring the recovery act logo appeared everywhere — by the side of the road, in public transportation stations, as bumper stickers on government vehicles.

    Then, abruptly, on July 15, the Department of Transportation relaxed its requirements. No longer would government agencies require grant recipients to mount the by-then-familiar signs: They would simply encourage them to do so. The White House website was updated to reflect the change — and, seemingly, to give the impression that signs had never actually been required.

    It might just have been a coincidence, but, shortly before the shift in policy, on June 24, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), ranking member of the House Government Oversight Committee, asked the DOT inspector general to look into the administration’s use of the signs. That request was part of a larger investigation into White House propaganda use.

    The inspector general responded last week: “According to DOT officials, posting signs is consistent with [American Recovery and Reinvestment Act] … transparency and accountability requirements as it allows the public to immediately identify how Recovery Act funds are being used.”

    In other words, the signs aren’t propaganda; they’re a part of the president’s promised open government. But the original requirements didn’t simply mandate the presence of a sign — they also discouraged the presence of equally prominent signs.

    Take Federal Railroad Administration requirements as an example.

    “Grantees may elect to have a secondary project sign which identifies other project partners … but such secondary project signs should be smaller and less prominent than [the] ARRA Project Sign,” the FRA stipulated. “An ARRA Project Sign must be located adjacent to each placement of such a secondary project sign.”

    Then, too, if the signs were meant solely to enhance transparency, why relax the requirements now? The inspector general’s report doesn’t provide an answer.

    Ultimately, the recent policy change will not alter the impact of the signs. As Johnathan Strong of the Daily Caller pointed out in an Aug. 19 article, much of the stimulus funding has already gone out the door — and the effect of strong encouragement from the government will quite probably be equivalent to the effect of a requirement.

    “Although agencies are for the first time relaxing requirements to build the signs, some of their still-standing ‘encouragement’ comes pretty close,” Strong wrote. “Under the rules of the Federal Aviation Administration, recipients of airport grants are ‘required’ to ‘strongly encourage the prime contractor’ — the party completing the work of the project — to post the signs. Because contractors typically produce work to the specifications of their clients, it is unclear in what situation such ‘strong’ encouragement would result in the signs not being built.”

    But, even if the policy shift effectively matters little, it still provides important insight into the original intention behind the signs. As an explanation, “transparency” falls a little flat. Much more probable that government agencies placed the signs to promote the president and a questionable economic policy.

    Posted in Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    18 Responses to Government Alters Stimulus Sign Policy, Raising More Propaganda Questions

    1. Pingback: Must Know Headlines 8.29.2010 — ExposeTheMedia.com

    2. Some Jerk says:

      Darryl Issa is a Republican. Wow, even after you got the "ranking" part right…

    3. Lyle, Brooklyn says:

      It's easy to see why they did it in the first place. Obama and Congressional Democrats wanted to have their signature all over the big recovery.

      As time went by and the big recovery failed to materialize, the Stimulus program became a prime example of everything that is wrong with Washington. Unprecedented sums were squandered with no appreciable result except needless, staggering debt.

      Polls show that a lot of Americans believe the Stimulus did more harm than good. Every time they see road signs that remind them, they become angry all over again, and remember where to place the blame.

    4. Mark says:

      Great post. But Mr. Issa is a Republican.

    5. Good Lt says:

      Darell Issa is a Republican, not a Democrat.

    6. Chad, Haverhill, MA says:

      Last I checked Darrel Issa is R-Calif.

    7. steve, Ohio says:

      I lived in chicago for several years and marveled at how every city truck, car, park and building had signs reading – "Richard Daley, Mayor". i'm waiting to see tanks with "Barack H. Obama, President" on the side and the tails of fighter jets w/ the same……has biden's picture found a place on the wall in federal buildings?

    8. Davie, US says:

      Concerned citizens should procure billboard space alongside the huge traffic jams being created all over the country for helpful public service messages such as:


      compliments of


      We have huge traffic slowdowns now all over the country, creating long lines of stopped or slow moving traffic, including lines of 18-wheelers. Commercial traffic is grinding to a crawl or even to a halt, and the delays are being financed by the very citizens and companies that are suffering from the often unnecessary slowdowns. Short cheery messages could help remind drivers that they are paying for the construction, thus instilling in them a little pride and improving their attitude while they wait.

    9. MarkT says:

      Rep. Darrell Issa is a Republican not a democrat as originally stated in the post.

    10. Drew Page, IL says:

      If the current administration wants to take credit for the road construction projects around the country, I think they should also be required to post bill boards of equivalent size in front of every unemployment compensation office in the country announcing that today's unemployment situation is being brought to you by the Community Reinvestment Act.

    11. Andy Freeman, Califo says:

      If truth-in-advertising applied to govt, the phrase "American Recovery and Reinvestment Act" would be replaced by "Debt", "Money borrowed from China", or "Money to be repaid by your children".

    12. Darth Barack says:

      I have altered the terms of your Stimulus.

      Pray I do not alter it further.

    13. robert texas says:

      r u from cnn issa is a republilame

    14. Steven Powell, Silve says:

      For the record, Darryl Issa is an "R" not a "D"; not that it matters. I admire Darryl Issa for being pro-responsibility and anti-waste.

    15. ken in sc, sc says:

      As someone who has lived in a majority Democratic state most of my life, I am accustomed to seeing the governor’s name plastered on every public construction project in the state. It must come as a shock to Obama's people that he can't put his mark on every project funded by our money.

    16. Drew Page, IL says:

      Ken in S.C. — It should not come as a shock to Obama and his people, because he and his people come from Illinois, where we too see the former Governor's name (Blagojevich) on every public project funded by the money Illinois endlessly borrows from any source possible. We still see his name in print a lot, but it's no longer on road construction projects, Mr. Obama has taken credit for these.

    17. Billie says:

      Let's make sure those government stimulus signs are eye opening in EVERY business so the consumer can make better choices on where to spend money. My choice goes to businesses that stand on their own… who and where are they?

    18. Pingback: Government Alters Stimulus Sign Policy, Raising More Propaganda Questions - Whitley County Patriots

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