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The Squandered Stimulus
Jul 20, 2009; Washington Post | This is a stunning and devastating op-ed by Robert Samuelson in the Washington Post. His argument is what many of us have said, but without his cogency: The $787 billion stimulus package passed early this year was not a stimulus program, but “mostly a political exercise, designed to claim credit for any recovery, shower benefits on favored constituencies and signal support for fashionable causes.” Rather than a program to maximize economic impact, the stimulus plan “became an orgy of politically appealing spending increases and tax breaks.” Samuelson argues that it might be simply too late for President Obama to rescue the first stimulus deal, and a second stimulus, needed because of the inadequacy of the first, would have to “be financed by culling some of the old” stimulus. Samuelson fundamentally suggests that some of the ARRA provisions that nonprofits are most interested in are among those with limited stimulative effect. It poses the question to nonprofits that we have raised in several other articles:  Are nonprofits (and foundations) willing to forego resources that benefit themselves as institutions for actions, incentives, investments, and programs that benefit society and, as a consequence, reduce the demand for the services and safety nets that nonprofits provide?.  —Rick Cohen

Marion Barry’s Not the Only One With Nonprofit Trouble
Jul 20, 2009; City Paper| Maybe someone ought to tell Washington DC council members and perhaps to many other state and municipal politicians around the country the story of Pennsylvania State Senator Vince Fumo heading to jail in part for funneling money to and through a nonprofit largely linked to and staffed by his political aides. In DC, former mayor and Ward 8 council member Marion Barry has been pegged in the press, though no legal action yet, for funneling $1 million in earmarked grants to nonprofits controlled by his own staff. Some of the grants were made before the groups even legally existed, some of the groups have apparently fraudulent signatures on their incorporating papers from people who say they didn’t know they were signat