The love/hate relationship with the stimulus

THE LOVE/HATE RELATIONSHIP WITH THE STIMULUS…. Republican lawmakers were nearly unanimous in their opposition to the economic recovery package that rescued the economy from the abyss. But instead of feeling embarrassed about the latest in a series of dramatic economic misjudgments, GOP officials continue to rail against the economic life-preserver.

Well, that’s actually only part of the problem. While they shake their fist at the stimulus with one hand, they’re reaching out for more stimulus aide with their other hand. Lee Fang has this report about Rep. Bill Shuster (R) of Pennsylvania, who loves the recovery package when he’s not trashing it.

* Last week, Shuster attended the groundbreaking ceremony for a sewage treatment plant for the Blairsville Municipal Authority. Republican State Senator Don White noted that the project was only possible because of the stimulus, which allowed the state Infrastructure Investment Authority (PENNVEST) to provide a $10.4 million grant and a $3 million low interest loan for construction.

* On November 4, Shuster asked Gov. Ed Rendell (D-PA) to use some of the state’s stimulus money to reopen the Scotland School for Veterans’ Children. Shuster noted that using the Recovery Act money for the school would save 134 full-time jobs.

* In July, Shuster joined 14 Pennsylvania lawmakers — including fellow stimulus-opponents Reps. Glenn Thompson (R-PA), Charlie Dent (R-PA), Jim Gerlach (R-PA), and Todd Platts (R-PA) — in writing a letter asking that stimulus money be used towards public universities.

* In June, Shuster hailed the stimulus-funded initiative to build a high-speed rail line between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. The Post-Gazette quoted Shuster praising the project: “I believe we are about to experience a new era in passenger rail in this country. I want Western Pennsylvania to participate in this new era and to enjoy the benefits of increased and expanded passenger rail service.”

This comes a week after a Virginia jobs fair in House Minority Whip Eric Cantor’s (R) district, where he repeatedly condemned the stimulus effort — neglecting to mention that the job fair wouldn’t have existed were it not for the stimulus effort.

And let’s not forget, this isn’t exactly an unusual occurrence. Bobby Jindal, Mitch McConnell, Saxby Chambliss, Johnny Isakson, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry all have two things in common — they (1) railed against recovery efforts, rejecting the very idea of government spending improving the economy; and (2) later discovered they liked stimulus spending after all, and felt it was important to help the economy in their state.

Shuster, in other words, is in good company.

Of course, the phrase these guys are looking for, but can’t bring themselves to say, is “Thank you, Mr. President, for rescuing the economy from the recession we helped create.”

The sooner they concede they were wrong (again), the sooner we can all move on. I’m confident the White House has no interest in rubbing it in.