Earlier this year, Congress passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 without a single Republican vote in the House of Representatives and with the support of only three Republicans in the Senate. This stimulus bill, which included $552 billion in spending and $275 billion in tax cuts, has provided much-needed support to state and local economies across the country. Cognizant to this fact, conservatives have jumped on the chance to personally deliver stimulus money to their cash-strapped states and districts, while conveniently brushing past their original opposition. A two-faced approach to the stimulus debate has become routine for many Republicans, with many GOP lawmakers who are standing against the stimulus in Washington, D.C., but touting it when they travel home to their constituents.
CONGRESSIONAL HYPOCRITES: Several House Republicans who opposed the Recovery Act quickly returned to their districts to tout projects that it funded. Stimulus opponent Rep. Joseph Cao (R-LA) met with New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin (D) and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood recently to solicit stimulus money for streetcar expansions and road repairs. Cao proudly boasted that he is looking "at federal monies that the state has and channeling more of that money to the district." Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) earlier this month asked for stimulus funds to be diverted into paying down the deficit rather than paying it out to states. But the same day he took credit for the construction site at Blue Grass Army Depot in Madison County, Kentucky -- a project that was funded in large part by the Recovery Act. One of the most brazen acts of hypocrisy came from House Minority Whip Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA), who has repeatedly claimed that the stimulus is "failing" to create jobs. Earlier this month, Cantor appeared at a job fair in Midlothian, VA, to demonstrate how he is working on "long-term solutions that will put...Virginia workers back on the path to financial stability." But scores of jobs advertised at the jobs fair were created by the stimulus, and Chesterfield County, where the fair was being held, will receive more than $38 million in stimulus funding over the next two years.
HYPOCRITICAL GOVERNORS: Republican governors lined up to attack the Recovery Act and oppose its passage as well. Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA), said if he was still a member of Congress he would've voted against the stimulus and wrote an op-ed in Politico lambasting the Recovery Act's effect, calling it the "stimulus that has not stimulated." Yet the very next day, he appeared with constituents in Louisiana to present a jumbo-sized check of federal grant money authorized under the Recovery Act to residents of Vernon Parish. He later toured the state in a "Louisiana Working" tour, handing out millions of dollars of stimulus money while simultaneously attacking "Washington Spending." Similarly, Gov. Mark Sanford (R-SC) wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal last year titled "Don't Bail Out My State," proudly boasting about being the only governor to travel to Washington to lobby against the stimulus package. Yet after the legislation was passed, Sanford changed his mind and told reporters that being against the Recovery Act "doesn't preclude taking the money." In April, Sanford became the last governor to seek economic recovery funds.
THE STIMULUS IS WORKING: The Council of Economic Advisers, in a report released earlier this month, called the Recovery Act the "boldest countercyclical fiscal stimulus in American history" and concluded that the stimulus added nearly 500,000 jobs to the economy in the second quarter of 2009 that would not have been there without it. Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME), one of the few Republicans who voted in favor of the stimulus, noted last March that even "those who were opposed to the stimulus spending will see some of the projects that are underway in their communities as they've initiated." Snowe said she believes that the effect of the spending has been to create an "amazing" number of projects in her home state. Many conservatives who opposed the stimulus or the idea of Keynesian spending in general have started to line up to defend the Recovery Act. On Aug. 7, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, who served as Sen. John McCain's (R-AZ) chief economic adviser during his 2008 campaign, told reporters that "no one would argue that the stimulus has done nothing." Three days later, Niall Ferguson of the conservative Hoover Institution said the Recovery Act "has clearly made a significant contribution to stabilizing the US economy."