Sunday, February 28, 2010

Republicans Sure Do Love them Some Big Government

Opening Statement

(If you don't feel like reading, watch Rachel Maddow dismantle the GOP's stimulus hypocrisy here. You can also see the complete list of hypocritical Republicans on the stimulus here.)

Anti-government Republicans love big government. Yep. It's true.

I was surprised too, when I found out.

See, I had just assumed that when someone is elected to a national office to vote on national policy, they'd do it, for, you know, the good of the country. Or at the very least, the good of their district. I reckon that still holds true for most elected officials, unless you happen to be a Republican. Particularly if the policy in question is the $787 billion stimulus package. Or national health care reform.

February 2009
About a year ago, President Obama signed the American Recovery and Re-Investment Act of 2009, which was comprised of hundreds of billions of dollars in public works projects, aimed at getting people back to work in the midst of a recession. And, in doing so, bettering our infrastructure at the same time. And we all remember how Eric Cantor (R-VA) and John Boehner (R-OH) led the charge against the stimulus bill, even clapping for themselves when the vote had come through. Not one Republican voted for the stimulus. All of them who spoke on it spoke against it. They called it wasteful, pork-barrel, big government spending that wasn't going to do any good for jobs, or infrastructure, or the economy. Just more big nasty government.

Cue right-wing talk radio pundits and FOX news anchors decrying this bill as a Stalinist, Fascist, Marxist, Communist, elitist policy that hurts America and helps the terrorists. Cue the national dialogue reaching a fever pitch about how these mean nasty Democrats are shoving government down our throats and gosh gee golly willikers let's throw some tea bags to show how mad we are.

Well, that's what they said.

Here's what they actually did.

Unabashed Republican Hypocrisy
Now, when that money goes to their home districts, the story about the stimulus is a lot different. All of these Republicans voted against the stimulus after repeatedly trashing it as wasteful pork-barrel spending. These Republicans applauded themselves in the House chamber when the vote tally showed that zero Republicans voted for it. But all 23 of these Republicans loooooove them some big government spending. Keep in mind, I'm only using these as examples. There are plenty more where this came from. About 91, to be exact. One of the stimulus' biggest opponents?

That'd be Republican Governor Haley Barbour (R-MS), who had been unwilling to take $2.6B in stimulus funds for health care, education, and public works. He has an impressive resume as a chief GOP strategist.

-Barbour is one of the national GOP's big boys, and was the national RNC chairman when the Republicans took over congress for the first time ever, back in 1994.
-He was the most profitable lobbyist on K Street before running for Governor.
-He's even been found to be the engineer behind the GOP's total obstruction of anything progressive in Washington, encouraging Republicans to not unveil any policy of their own, but to instead just bash democratic policy and completely abandon bipartisanship. This is all a devious political effort to win votes in 2010, to frustrate voters with democrats being unable to get anything done, even though Republicans are doing all of the obstruction.

All of this gives the impression that if anyone is against a big spending program from big government, it'd be Governor Barbour. Well, if you click on Haley Barbour's name a few paragraphs above, you'll be taken to a NYT article on the Mississippi STEPS program, which uses stimulus funds for the private sector to hire employees. Barbour is in full support of this program, which wouldn't be possible without federal stimulus dollars.

"It’s welfare to work...The real economy that generates jobs generates private-sector jobs, from whence come taxes and quality of life for people."
Gov. Haley Barbour

Even though he goes on to bash the federal money coming to the state, Barbour grudgingly admits that Mississippi needs the help. From the article-

Now the problem facing Mississippi and other states is the calendar: The welfare money in the stimulus bill must be in the process of being spent by the end of September. Mr. Barbour said he hoped the program would be extended so more jobs could be created.

But Barbour isn't alone. There are plenty of Republicans who see the value of big government when it helps their constituents.

GOP Hypocrisy on the American Recovery and Re-Investment Act of 2009

-Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) called this "worse than wasteful" and a "boondoggle." That was before he handed out a $625,000 check to the Cedartown City Commission, made up of funds that he voted against giving out.

-Rep. John Mica (R-FL) is glad that some of the $787 billion will go to his district, to fund a beleaguered commuter rail project.

"The timing couldn't be better.
-Rep. John Mica

-Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) was mad that Gov. Tim Kaine was slow on spending stimulus finds that had been allocated to his district.

We could use that money desperately...there are a lot of things up here that money could be used for.
-Rep. Frank Wolf

-Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA) brought some stimulus funds to his cash-strapped district back home, praising the bill for giving jobs to several dozen new workers in a sewage treatment plant.

-Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) and the rest of the Texas delegation pushed for $3 billion in stimulus dollars for NASA, to help retain thousands of aerospace jobs.

"...This funding will spur growth in Texas communities."
-Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison

-Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) was a big opponent of the stimulus, until money went to his state.

"[ARRA is] a great thing for this county. we're not accustomed to federal dollars of that magnitude finding its way to North Carolina."
-Sen. Richard Burr

-Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO) said a lot of things about the stimulus. Like this little tidbit

"“Hold on to your wallets folks because with the passage of this trillion-dollar baby the Democrats will be poised to spend as much as $3 trillion in your tax dollars,” Bond said. “Unfortunately, this bill stimulates the debt, it stimulates the growth of government, but it doesn’t stimulate jobs,” Bond insisted.

Well, that was before Bond decided to tour his state and talk about how great all that $2B of stimulus money was for low-income housing for the elderly and impoverished. Getting federal government money is great, but only for Missouri, apparently. Bond said the stimulus would "create jobs and ultimately spur economic opportunities."

-Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) is also a big fan of big government. Now before you shout "YOU LIE!" at me, take a look at Wilson, wanting federal stimulus money for his district from the Department of Agriculture.

"We know their endeavor will provide jobs and investment in one of the poorer sections of the Congressional District," Wilson wrote to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack in an August 2009 letter excerpted by the Times.

-Sen. Bob Bennett (R-UT) is the state's junior senator who vehemently opposed the American Recovery and Re-Investment Act.

"The only thing this bill will stimulate is the national debt."
-Sen. Bob Bennett

But he had requested $50 billion in stimulus money for his state from the EPA and the USDA before voting NO to it. Which Bob Bennett do the Utes like? The chest-beating no-to-big-government blowhard, or the senator who is looking out for his state, which is suffering from recession?

""I recognize the extensive demands being placed on these funds and, therefore, greatly appreciate any funding considerations you give to the projects of Utah...The addition of federal funds would maximize the stimulative effect on the local economy."
-Sen. Bob Bennett

-Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-OH) was a big stimulus opponent who also noted that federal stimulus dollars for broadband internet expansion would help his district's economy.

"The project could support numerous jobs in Ohio."
-Rep. Pat Tiberi

-Mary Bono Mack (R-CA) was also one of the 111 House Republicans who voted NO on the stimulus package, and then toured her district talking about how great the stimulus was after she had requested $4.2 million to fight homelessness.

"This funding will provide much-needed assistance."
-Rep. Mary Bono Mack

-Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-MI) decried the $787 billion spending package as wasteful, but still requested $3M for harbor improvements in his district.

"Safe and navigable harbors are economic engines that drive the communities that surround them."
-Rep. Peter Hoekstra

-Sen. Mike Johanns (R-NE), the former Governor of Nebraska, and Secretary of Agriculture under George W. Bush, was one of the senate's loudest critics of Obama and the stimulus package. Which Mike Johanns did Nebraskans vote for? Was it this guy-

Mr. President, I rise today to say that rarely has a crystal ball proved so regrettably accurate. Many warned, as did I, that the stimulus would amount to a mountain of wasted money. It produced record deficits and thus far, little else."

"The money would simply never reach the economy."

"It would be hard for me to imagine that we are going to be creating many jobs here."

-Sen. Mike Johanns

...Or was it this guy, who requested stimulus money for Nebraska from the USDA?

"The proposed project would create 38 new jobs and bring broadband to eight hospitals, five colleges, 16 libraries and 161 K-12 schools."
-Sen. Mike Johanns

-Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) joined in the anti-stimulus chorus in Washington, before requesting stimulus money to go back home.

"This is spending, not stimulus."
-Sen. Lamar Alexander

...Although a letter he sent to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack tells it a little differently.

"It is anticipated that the project will create over 200 jobs in the first year and at least another 40 new jobs in the following years."
-Sen. Lamar Alexander

-Rep. John Linder (R-GA) requested dirty, dirty stimulus money from that wasteful, pork-laden bill go to his district. After he voted against the bill. In early 2009, Linder, ranked by the ACU as one of the most conservative in the House, crticized the stimulus.

"(new unemployment numbers) only reinforce the fact that the $787 billion 'stimulus' signed into law eight months ago has done nothing for job growth in this country."
-Rep. John Linder

But Linder might have a bone to pick with Linder, who later said-

"The employment opportunities created by this program would be quickly utilized."
-Rep. John Linder

-Rep. Mike Castle (R-DE) went around handing out fat checks in his district, which were made possible through $5.2M in federal stimulus dollars from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, to fight homelessness.

"It is imperative we provide those programs serving Delaware’s most disadvantaged families and individuals with the resources necessary to house, feed, and protect those in desperate need."
-Rep. Mike Castle

-Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) once called the stimulus bill a "giant welfare package." But that didn't stop him from requesting $25M in stimulus money from the EPA for the Tar Creek cleanup in his state.

"This funding not only completes the relocation phase being conducted by the Lead Impacted Communities Relocation Assistance Trust but provides the necessary funds to clean up this area."
-Sen. James Inhofe

-Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) joins the rest of the Georgia delegation as a congressman who voted against the stimulus package saying it was "wasteful," before requesting some of that wasteful money for their own district because it creates jobs/repairs public infrastructure. Here's what he had to say about it last February.

"(The ARRA is) fundamentally flawed and doesn’t represent the change we deserve or the stimulus we need."
-Rep. Jack Kingston

But ol' Jackie boy requested money from the stimulus go to Alma and Jesup Counties, so those police departments could hire more entry-level officers to fight crime on the streets. And he has the gall to take credit for that stimulus money by not once mentioning the word "stimulus" in statements to his district. And manages to even bash the federal government after he requested federal money.

“We’ve seen from experience that local initiatives go a lot further toward solving local problems than policies set in Washington...This funding will provide tax relief by saving local tax dollars.”
-Rep. Jack Kingston

Mind-boggling as it is, Kingston's office says that he remains opposed to the stimulus package.

-Rep. John Carter (R-TX) distributed press releases talking about how bad the stimulus package was, how we should repeal it and give the money back to the taxpayers. Thing is, Carter is completely aware that the stimulus is giving money back to the taxpayers in his district. Specifically through $3B for NASA, requested by the entirety of the Texas delegation. Carter himself also requested $621 million in hospital projects in his district.

"(ARRA is) a victory for the economy in Central Texas."
-Rep. John Carter

-Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-PA) made no bones about his opposition to the stimulus, along with the rest of his colleagues. But that didn't stop him from recognizing that there are hurting people in his district who could use some jobs and some federal investment in local public works projects. Here's a sample from the article I linked to above, that talks about the 7,500 jobs to be created or saved in Pennsylvania's 5th district.

Congressman Glenn "GT" Thompson, R-Howard, who represents the 5th District at a national level, said he hoped the residents within the county would benefit from the plan's massive spending and tax cuts.

Like Pennsylvania's 5th district, there are places all over the United States that are benefiting from the recovery packages. And we can track all of the spending for the next year or so, courtesy of the internet. Looks like that big bad stimulus may not be so bad after all, according to these Republicans who voted against it.

Well, maybe that's just the wishy-washy, on the fence Republicans not extreme enough for the most extreme Tea Party extremists on the fringe of the far right? Let's look at some House GOP leadership!

-House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH) has been, without a doubt, the biggest critic in Congress on the stimulus package. He even threw the bill on the floor during a debate. Here's what he had to say about it just recently, on the anniversary of the bill's signing into law.

"The trillion-dollar stimulus was put together so quickly and so secretively that no member of Congress had a chance to read it before it passed, and it shows. Yet, as poorly conceived and badly executed as the trillion-dollar stimulus was, President Obama and Democrats in Congress still think that Washington is the answer to everything."

“When it comes to slow-moving government spending programs, it’s clear that it doesn’t create the jobs.”

-Rep. John Boehner

You tell 'em, John! That big bad federal government can't do anything right! Right?

"With Ohio’s unemployment rate the highest it’s been in 25 years, I’m pleased that federal officials stepped in to order Ohio to use all of its construction dollars for shovel-ready projects that will create much-needed jobs.”
-Rep. John Boehner

Oh. Well, nevermind. Maybe the House Minority Whip can do a better job standing up for his principles?

-Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) is the House's #2 Republican, and even organized the effort for all House Republicans to vote against the ARRA.

Well, that was until he was caught hosting a job fair where half of the employers there had been given money from the stimulus to give jobs to the unemployed. And at this same job fair where 30 organizations who directly benefited from the bill were putting his district to work, he called the stimulus an "utter failure." All of this coming from a guy who repeatedly attacks the president for not doing enough about job creation.

Closing Statement

Like it or not, these Republicans cannot deny that the American economy has been on life support, and the stimulus package is the plug that keeps it running until the economy recovers from the recession. Here are some raw facts that cannot be ignored, no matter how hard these history revisionists and hypocrites may try.

-Over 2 million jobs have been saved or created since the bill was signed into law, with only a quarter of the money spent so far.
-President Obama's claim that 3.5 million jobs will be saved or created by the end of this year is still on track.
-Even though the economy is in a tailspin, economists readily agree that without the stimulus, things would be much, much worse.

And let's remember when Ronald Reagan, savior of modern-day Republicans, faced 10.8 percent unemployment and a 35 percent approval rating because of a bad economy back in 1983. This had came a full year after he had cut taxes for the richest 1 percent, which had increased the deficit even more. Republicans had lost 28 seats in the House in the midterm elections because of voter frustration over jobs. Here are the unemployment numbers from the onset of Reagan's swearing in.

01/1981 - Unemployment rate 7.5% .... Reagan sworn in.
02/1981 - 7.4%
03/1981 - 7.4%
04/1981 - 7.2%
05/1981 - 7.5%
06/1981 - 7.5%
07/1981 - 7.2%
08/1981 - 7.4% *Reagan cuts taxes for top 1% & says unemployment will DROP to 6.9%.
09/1981 - 7.6%
10/1981 - 7.9%
11/1981 - 8.3%
12/1981 - 8.5%
01/1982 - 8.6%
02/1982 - 8.9%
03/1982 - 9.0%
04/1982 - 9.3%
05/1982 - 9.4%
06/1982 - 9.6%
07/1982 - 9.8%
08/1982 - 9.8%
09/1982 - 10.1%
10/1982 - 10.4%
11/1982 - 10.8%

President Obama, on the other hand, has seen unemployment drop from 10.2 percent to 9.7 percent at the beginning of his second year. Gross National Product has gone up 3.5 percent as of the last quarter's reports. This year, the stimulus is expected to grow the economy by anywhere from 1.4 to 4 percent. It could bring down unemployment anywhere from 0.7 percent to 1.8 percent. Obama's approval rating remains around 50 percent, whereas Reagan's had dropped to about 40 percent by that period of his administration.

The stimulus is a great idea. It's keeping this economy afloat, and even Republicans who voted against it are openly praising the good things it's doing for local economies and public works projects. Barack Obama is handling this recession to the very best of his abilities, and is doing a good job so far.

I'll bet Reagan would have been ridden out of office at this point if there was a reactionary, paranoid 24-hour national news cycle back in the eighties.

1 comment:

  1. We received a response from United States Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina regarding the NASA Constellation Program. Copy of his written reply is here: