The Stimulus Turns Two
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How Obama Quietly Changed Washington
from TIME Magazine

President Obama is often mocked for failing to change Washington, and clearly, his lofty campaign vision of post-partisan cooperation hasn’t come true. But behind the scenes of the Beltway perpetual-conflict machine, Obama has made quiet progress toward reforming Washington — not politically, but bureaucratically. The most important reform, launched two years ago on Thursday, was tucked inside his unpopular stimulus package, and inside his new budget, he’s trying to expand it.

The reform is a simple concept that certainly ought to be post-partisan: harnessing the power of competition in the spending of taxpayer dollars. Most federal programs spread cash around the country like peanut butter through rote check-the-boxes, everybody-wins formulas. Obama has tried to divert funds into competition-based, peer-reviewed, results-oriented grant programs that reward only the worthiest applications. The best known is the Race to the Top education program, but the stimulus hatched similar competitions in energy, transportation, housing, health care and broadband.

Read more: TIME