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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

From Outside The Bubble: .gov Reinvestment

<eech President Obama delivered to Congress this week, he promised a lot of things. The speech took a much-needed inspirational tone and I was particularly drawn to the language aimed at building unity from American's shared hardship. While Obama revealed a plan to cure cancer and dramatically decrease the number of high school drop outs in America, to me the most interesting and innovative revelation was The administration has recently created this website to show anyone who is interested exactly where funds from the 787-billion-dollar American Recovery and Reinvestment Act are being spent.

I am weirdly awed by this website. It still needs work and new information is constantly being added, but it provides a great service to the American people. First of all, it breaks down the total $787 billion into subsections. While we could read the entire Act and know exactly where the money is going (and the Act in its entirety is available on the website), I don’t know anyone who has the time to get through the thousands of pages that comprise the legislation. But this website provides a quick and easy look at the basics of the Act. From the chart that pops up on the first page of the website, I can easily see that, for example, $288 billion is for tax cuts, $111 billion is for infrastructure and scientific research, and $59 billion is for healthcare. The website gives both the very basics that every American should know with and a more in-depth analysis of where the money is heading for those so inclined to investigate.

There are two interactive maps on the website as well. One, under the title of “Estimate Job Effect,” lets the viewer place her cursor over each individual state to learn how many jobs the Act will create in the state and how long it will take. The other map is even more informative and interactive. This map allows the viewer to click on a particular state to learn how money will be spent in it. Each state has provided its own data although not every state has yet to link up its information (the website claims that information for every state is on its way). The best is Virginia. When I click on the state I end up at a website that is taking submissions for projects that the state can invest in. It is a great opportunity for individual citizens and small businesses in Virginia to tap into the recently available funds.

Finally, the best feature is’s own submission box. The website asks for recovery stories and citizens’ thoughts on what’s working about the Act and what’s not. While I am pessimistic enough to believe that not all these stories are being read on the other side of the submission box, having a place for people to share their frustration is enough. Citizens need a place to vent whether it is with the economic situation or the Act itself. By creating this website, the Administration seems really eager to create dialogue and engage every citizen.

While my excitement about this website may be disproportionate to its actual ability to assist those suffering through the crisis, the point is that President Obama is trying to involve average Americans in a way that we haven’t seen before. This is really where my excitement comes from – the idea that we can come together and feel a connection with our government. I really encourage every Carl to take a look at and stay informed on what’s going on outside our campus. It might not be as obvious inside the bubble, but the outside looks very different than it did four years ago.

-Michelle Gajewski is a Carletonian columnist.

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