Republican hypocrisy on Recovery Act runs rampant

Not on single Republican voted to pass President Obama’s economic recovery act in February 2009. They lined up to denounce the plan as socialistic, wasteful and un-American.

For example, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., told a Fox New anchor on Feb 6. 2009, “this bill stinks … it’s an orgy of congressional spending unrelated to creating a job.”

Apparently after the bill has created or saved more than 2 million jobs in one year, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, Sen. Graham wants a little of that stink to rub off on him.

Media reports detailing Republican hypocrisy on the recovery act revealed this past week that Sen. Graham wrote last fall to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood asking for $363 million in recovery act funds for highway construction projects in his state – to save or create a few hundred of those jobs he had once said the bill would not create.

Rep. Kay Ganger, R-Texas, still bashes the recovery act. In a statement earlier this month, she said, “Stimulus-style spending has not created jobs, but it has certainly grown our national debt over the last year.” This most recent denunciation of the recovery act was much harsher than her Feb. 2009 rejection of the bill on the same grounds that it wouldn’t create many jobs.

These high-pitched condemnations of the recovery act run counter to Granger’s written request to Secretary LaHood for recovery act funds for projects in Dallas and Ft. Worth, which, according to her, would create 3,500 jobs.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell led the charge in January 2009 when he described the recovery act as socialist. McConnell has since supported the use of recovery act funds for projects in his state.

According to one report, both Republican Texas Senators and 19 Republican members of the House are awash in the hypocrisy. Even Rep. Ron Paul, R. Texas, who according to one recent GOP straw polls may be a front-runner for his party’s presidential nomination, voted against the recovery act under the usual denunciations but has since asked for recovery act money for projects in his district.

Other Republicans, like Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., voted against the bill but now boast about getting recovery act funds for projects in their states. House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, a vocal opponent of the recovery act and the Republican leader in charge of ensuring everyone in his party voted against the bill, has since asked for recovery act funds for a high-speed rail project in his state.

The newest House Republican, Rep. Parker Griffith, R-Alabama, denounced the bill as wasteful in 2009 but also has requested recovery act funds for railway construction projects in his district.

By one estimate, as many as 110 Republican members of Congress have asked for or taken credit for recovery act spending in their states and districts. 

But this Republican hypocrisy isn’t confined to Congress. Republican Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who condemned the recovery act as “ludicrous” and “misdirected” announced this month that his state would be able to balance its budget using some $387 million in funds from the recovery act’s state stabilization fund. Apparently, the recovery act’s plan to help states avoid some job-killing spending cuts  doesn’t seem so “misdirected” now.

Republican Govs. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Calif., and Bob McDonnell, Va., have expressed thanks for the assistance from recovery act funds and want more. In his campaign for governor in 2009, McDonnell denounced the recovery act and said “it is not going to be good long-term for America.”

Photo: Recovery Act money has funded thousands of infrastructure projects. 




Joel Wendland-Liu
Joel Wendland-Liu

Joel Wendland-Liu teaches courses on diversity, intercultural competence, migration, and civil rights at Grand Valley State University in West Michigan. He is the author of "Mythologies: A Political Economy of U.S. Literature, Settler Colonialism, and Racial Capitalism in the Long Nineteenth Century" (International Publishers) and "The Collectivity of Life" (Lexington Books).