Hidden RAT Spoils Obama's Stimulus Bill
New board has powerful sway over federal watchdogs
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 19, 2009 6:37 PM CST
Vice President Joe Biden stands behind President Barack Obama as he signs the $787 billion stimulus bill.   (AP Photo/Darin McGregor, Pool)
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(Newser) – Hidden away in the $787 billion stimulus bill is a lousy provision that threatens to inject politics into the jobs of supposedly independent government watchdogs, writes Byron York of the Washington Examiner. The bill creates something called the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board—the RAT board to the few who know of it. From now on, inspectors general—investigators who check into wrongdoing at federal agencies—must clear their inquiries with the board.

"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," writes York. "Or, conversely, it can tell the inspector general to go after a tempting political target." It's not clear yet who snuck it in, but signs point to the Obama administration, not Congress.