Hypocrite GOPers rail against federal dollars, then claim credit for them
Republican Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota is shamelessly taking credit for federal funds that she opposed which, because of Democrats, are now pouring into her state.

WASHINGTON—It’s a recurring pattern: A right-wing Republican, such as South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem or Texas Sen. Ted Cruz or, this week, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, rails against Democratic lawmakers voting for federal dollars and opposes the funding—and then grabbing for the gelt, taking credit and bragging  about what the dollars are doing in their states.

Hypocrisy, anyone?

The latest example of the benefits of the Democratic pandemic recovery bill came when tornadoes roared through five states the weekend of Dec. 10-11, literally demolishing the small town of Mayfield, Ky. People died at a candle factory there—a factory whose bosses wouldn’t let the workers leave to find shelter even as tornado warnings were being broadcast.

No sooner had reports reached D.C. than the entire Kentucky congressional delegation, including GOP Senate leader Mitch McConnell, Paul, and all the representatives, joined Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear in seeking a federal emergency disaster declaration for the Bluegrass State. Only one of that group, House Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth of Louisville, is a Democrat.

Democratic President Joe Biden, of course, in the long tradition of having the federal government step in on behalf of the entire U.S. to help hurting residents who have lost homes, jobs and lives through no fault of their own, promptly issued it. He also flew to Kentucky this week to survey the damage.

But not before everyone else noticed that Paul, since entering the Senate in January 2011, has routinely railed against, and voted against, disaster aid, for other states. Sometimes he claims he wants to offset it elsewhere, by eliminating foreign aid, a favorite GOP punching bag. Not this time.

Paul not only wanted Biden to “expeditiously” aid Kentucky, but even has a “disaster assistance” tab in a prominent position across the bottom of his senatorial website’s home page. No offsets, though.

“Republican posturing against disaster aid ‘for thee, but not for me’ is a hardy perennial on Capitol Hill,” commented Michael Hiltzik in the Los Angeles Times.

But it’s not just disaster aid that brings out the hypocrisy.

  • “At her annual budget address this month, Noem blamed President Biden’s economic policies for rising prices, derided the ‘giant handout’ of federal stimulus funds and suggested she had considered refusing the money over ideological objections. But like many Republican officials, Noem has found it hard to say no to her state’s share of the $1.9 trillion pandemic relief aid Democrats passed along party lines in March,” said the New York Times
  • Biden’s American Relief Plan law allotted $8.8 billion to Florida, over the objections of right-wing GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is up for re-election next year and eyeing a GOP presidential run in 2024.

Florida has gotten $3.4 billion of the money and DeSantis, the Times noted, didn’t turn it down. It’s going towards “infrastructure, transportation and workforce retention.” His excuse for taking the money: Biden’s law “disrupted the economy” by imposing anti-coronavirus mask and vaccine mandates.

People died at what was a candle factory in Mayfield Ky because bosses did not allow workers to flee their job stations ahead of the oncoming storm. Republicans in Kentucky have clamored for federal aid to rebuild, aid they have, until now, opposed. | video snapshot

DeSantis opposes those mandates, too. He even yanked state funds from local Floridian school districts that obey them. Biden’s Education Department has stepped in to make those districts whole. In October, DeSantis’s state Education Department docked the districts again, for aid equal to the federal dollars. The districts DeSantis hurt are in “blue” counties, and many educate high numbers of students of color.

  • Mike DeWine, R-Ohio, a former U.S. House member and senator, joined a red-state lawsuit to throw the American Relief Plan out because of conditions attached to the aid, Nobel Prize-winning economist/columnist Paul Krugman wrote in the New York Times. The suit has not been decided.

But when it came time to accept the relief bill’s money, DeWine said “yes,” Krugman reported.  DeWine allotted $2 billion of the $5.4 billion Ohio got from the measure to replenish the state’s jobless benefits fund, to repair water and sewer mains and “to improve pediatric behavioral health facilities.”

Needless to say, the Democratic National Committee’s “War Room” feature has had a field day with all the hypocrisy. But they’re not the only ones calling out the GOP’s double-faced conduct.

In an op-ed in the Times, Krugman took up the cudgel—and pointed out how routine it is.

Resurrecting a point the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, D-N.Y., made for decades with his annual “federal fisc” reports, Krugman noted certain states’ residents always send more to the U.S. government in payroll and income tax revenues than they get back in discretionary federal spending, including disaster relief. And vice versa.

Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey were the top four states in 2019, the latest fiscal year available, in running such deficits between dollars their taxpayers send in and discretionary dollars they get back, according to the Rockefeller Institute, a non-partisan think tank Krugman cited.

And Kentucky and, yes, Texas and South Dakota, got more dollars back than their residents sent in—and their politicians are among leaders in railing against federal spending for people in general.

The institute reports Kentucky got $14,173 more back from the feds, per person, than its residents sent in. That’s the biggest subsidy in the country. Texans got back $673 more, and South Dakotans got back $1,607.

“Kentucky’s 2019 net inflow of federal funds, $63 billion, was roughly 30% of the state’s G.D.P. that year,” Krugman added.

“As a lower-income state, Kentucky receives the full benefit of federal programs like Medicare, but pays relatively little in income or payroll taxes, so it gets much more than it pays in. And that is actually how the social safety net is supposed to work.

“We want individuals who for whatever reason are hurting financially to receive support from the more fortunate, which necessarily implies large transfers from rich states like New Jersey to lower-income states like Kentucky.”

Somebody tell Ron Paul, or Kristi Noem, or Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, or Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz.

Gosar, who recently posted a video showing he’d like to murder Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.—who like other Democrats, backs disaster aid—voted against Biden’s $1.9 trillion anti-coronavirus American Relief Plan early this year and said constituents would “hate it.”

Then, MSNBC reported on Dec. 14, Gosar posted this press release: “I am pleased to announce the city of Kingman will receive this critical funding for economic relief related to operational costs for cleaning and sanitizing the Kingman Airport to combat the spread of COVID-19,” the coronavirus. “This funding is essential to maintaining safe and reliable air service to the community.”

No mention of where the money came from, or his vote against it.

And when Hurricane Sandy devastated New Jersey’s coast and flooded New York City’s subway system in 2012, Paul denounced the dollars and voted “no.” So did Cruz. So did 23 of Texas’s 24 U.S. House Republicans, and its other senator, then-Republican Whip John Cornyn. When Hurricane Maria clobbered Puerto Rico, which has yet to recover, years later, Paul voted “no.”

The Sandy hurricane aid passed, anyway, but not before then-Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., whose Long Island constituents suffered, called the Texans, and the rest of his party, out.

“These Republicans have no problem finding New York when they’re out raising millions of dollars” for their re-election campaigns, King said. “What they did last night was put a knife in the back of New Yorkers and New Jerseyans. It was an absolute disgrace.”


Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Award-winning journalist Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of the union news service Press Associates Inc. (PAI). Known for his reporting skills, sharp wit, and voluminous knowledge of history, Mark is a compassionate interviewer but tough when going after big corporations and their billionaire owners.