The Republican epidemic of hypocrisy on federal stimulus funding

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:


Today marks the first anniversary of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) says the stimulus package worked. See " Estimated Impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act on Employment and Economic Output as of September 2009, CBO."

The Council of Economic Advisers also released a report on the economic impact of the stimulus package. The Economic Impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, First Quarterly Report: Executive Summary. The estimates were that the recovery package "added roughly 2.3 percentage points to real GDP growth in the second quarter and is likely to add even more to growth in the third quarter" and that "the ARRA and other policy actions caused employment in August to be slightly more than 1 million jobs higher than it otherwise would have been."

The chart that Michael Bryan posted yesterday demonstrates that the massive job losses resulting from failed Republican economic policies at the end of the Bush-Cheney regime have bottomed out (trough) and are now beginning to recover to the point that positive net job growth is possible this year when the second year of the federal stimulus funds are fully implemented. The only question is whether additional federal stimulus spending will be necessary to bail out state governments on the brink of collapse, not less.

Road to Recovery

But, but … this can't be true. I heard it on Faux News and talk radio. And from every Republican member of Congress. Yeah, about that …

The conservative Wall Street Journal on Tuesday exposed the Republican epidemic of hypocrisy on federal stimulus funding. Democrats Go After Stimulus Critics – (check out the sub-caption):

Some Republicans Who Slammed $787 Billion Program Also Sought Funds for Projects in Their Districts, Letters Show

. . .

More than a dozen Republican lawmakers supported stimulus-funding requests submitted to the Department of Labor, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Forest Service, in letters obtained by The Wall Street Journal through the Freedom of Information Act.

The stimulus package passed last February with no Republican votes in the House of Representatives. In the Senate, just three Republicans supported it: Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, who later switched to the Democratic Party.

Lawmakers routinely send letters in support of federal funding for projects in their constituencies; some Republican lawmakers have deliberately avoided sending requests for stimulus dollars because of their opposition to the bill.

Rep. Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican who called the stimulus a "wasteful spending spree" that "misses the mark on all counts," wrote to Labor Secretary Hilda Solis in October in support of a grant application from a group in his district which, he said, "intends to place 1,000 workers in green jobs." A spokeswoman for Mr. Ryan said the congressman felt it was his job to provide "the basic constituent service of lending his assistance for federal grant requests."

Republican Reps. Sue Myrick of North Carolina and Jean Schmidt of Ohio sent letters in October asking for consideration of funding requests from local organizations training workers for energy-efficiency projects.

In November, Ms. Schmidt said in a statement, "It is time to recall the stimulus funds that have not been spent before the Chinese start charging us interest." Aides to the congresswomen said they had always supported local organizations in their requests for federal funding.

None of the projects requested by the three House members received awards in funding decisions announced in January.

The Environmental Protection Agency received two letters from Sen. John Cornyn of Texas asking for consideration of grants for clean diesel projects in San Antonio and Houston. Mr. Cornyn is the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

One of the letters was signed jointly with Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, also of Texas. The letter said that the Port of Houston Authority "has informed me of the positive impact this grant will have in the region by serving as a foundation for PHA's Clean Air Strategy Plan, creating jobs, and significantly reducing diesel emissions." Houston received millions of dollars in diesel funding.

The agency also appeared to have received eight identical letters from Republican Sen. Bob Bennett of Utah recommending infrastructure projects in his state, seven of which were sent before stimulus legislation was passed by Congress.

* * *

The entire congressional delegation of Alabama, including its two Republican senators, wrote to then-Forest Service Chief Gail Kimbell asking for $15 million for cogongrass eradication and control programs in the state. The state ended up getting a $6.3 million grant.

Read the letters sent to the EPA by Kay Bailey Hutchison, John Cornyn, and Robert Bennett; to the Labor Department by Sue Myrick, Paul Ryan, Jean Schmidt; and to the Forest Service by the Alabama congressional delegation.

President Barack Obama and his party have been playing defense for much of the past year on the stimulus bill. But now the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and its allies are planning to use this week's anniversary of the passage of the stimulus package to tout its success, and to attack prominent Republicans whose states have benefited from stimulus grants.

Mr. Obama warned Republicans last month at their annual retreat that Democrats were ready to spotlight representatives who touted stimulus funds in their districts. "Let's face it, some of you have been at the ribbon-cuttings for some of these important projects in your communities," Mr. Obama said.

* * *

About $180 billion of the funds allocated to various projects has been paid out. Tax cuts worth about $93 billion have also taken effect, according to agency records published on the government Web site An additional $320 billion in spending hasn't yet been handed out. A further $195 billion in tax cuts are due to flow through tax returns.

Most of the stimulus spending so far has gone to state and local governments to plug holes in their schools, Medicaid and unemployment-benefits budgets. Spending on infrastructure projects is expected to pick up in 2010.

The uber-conservative Mooney Times (Washington Times) also exposed the Republican epidemic of hypocrisy on federal stimulus spending. Stimulus foes see value in seeking cash – Washington Times:

Sen. Christopher S. Bond regularly railed against President Obama's economic stimulus plan as irresponsible spending that would drive up the national debt. But behind the scenes, the Missouri Republican quietly sought more than $50 million from a federal agency for two projects in his state.

Mr. Bond was not alone. More than a dozen Republican lawmakers, while denouncing the stimulus to the media and their constituents, privately sent letters to just one of the federal government's many agencies seeking stimulus money for home-state pork projects.

The letters to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, expose the gulf between lawmakers' public criticism of the overall stimulus package and their private lobbying for projects close to home.

"It's not illegal to talk out of both sides of your mouth, but it does seem to be a level of dishonesty troubling to the American public," said Melanie Sloan, executive director of the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

In a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Mr. Bond noted that one project applying to the USDA for stimulus money would "create jobs and ultimately spur economic opportunities."

He and other lawmakers make no apologies for privately seeking stimulus money after they voted against it and continue to criticize the plan: "I strongly opposed the stimulus, but the only thing that could make it worse would be if none of it returned to the taxpayers of Missouri," said Mr. Bond, who is retiring.

But watchdog groups say the lawmakers' public talk and private letters don't square, highlighting a side of government spending largely overshadowed by the "earmarking" process. While members of Congress must disclose their earmarks — or pet projects they slip into broader spending bills — the private funding requests they make in letters to agencies fall outside of the public's view.

"There is a definite disconnect between the public statements and the private letters," said Thomas A. Schatz, president of the nonpartisan Citizens Against Government Waste. "It does seem inconsistent to say you're against the bill but then you want some little piece of it."

At a televised meeting with the House Republican caucus late last month, Mr. Obama chided GOP lawmakers who, he said, took credit for projects funded by the same stimulus bill they voted against — adding that some were even attending ribbon-cutting ceremonies.

* * *

According to records, at least eight other Republicans lawmakers who voted against the stimulus later sent letters to the USDA backing various projects' stimulus applications.

Republicans are unserious and unfit to govern. Throw the bums out.

UPDATE: From the DNC:

0 responses to “The Republican epidemic of hypocrisy on federal stimulus funding

  1. I’ll oppose both. War spending and stimulus spending all result in government borrowing which I oppose.

  2. It’s much better to borrow and invade. The off budget wars were not a concern, but stimulus spending is?

    Republicans are hypocrites, whether you think it “sticks” or not, it’s the truth.

  3. I’ve heard the claim about Republican hypocrisy before. I don’t think it stuck before and I don’t think it will stick now (not that I would mind if it did). Current American politics is all about passing a bill and then taking advantage of the spending and regulation afterwards. All the attention is on the battle for 50% plus one.

    If government stimulus spending is always and forever a good idea why not propose to spend another $787 billion dollars? The fact is that individuals and government cannot borrow and spend forever to good effect.