JUST SAY ‘YES’…. It’s very hard to believe that any sitting governor, no matter how severe his or her far-right ideology, would reject federal stimulus aid in the midst of an economic crisis. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), an aggressive critic of the recovery policy, called the very idea of cash-strapped states turning down the money “crazy.”
And yet, at last count, there were six conservative Republicans — Govs. Perry (Texas), Barbour (Mississippi), Jindal (Louisiana), Sanford (South Carolina), Palin (Alaska), and Otter (Idaho) — who have at least raised the possibility of turning down federal stimulus.
Slate‘s Christopher Beam takes a look at what these six are considering rejecting.
Say all six governors … rejected the stimulus outright. They would be saying “no” to a collective 424,000 jobs, according to White House estimates. They’d also be sniffing at a total of $3.8 billion for highways and bridges, $559 million for public transit, and $1.5 billion for education. And that’s not including state-specific projects like Louisiana’s $460 million for flood protection efforts, which include building locks and dams as well as coastal restoration. All told, they would be rejecting an estimated $69 billion.
You’d have to be crazy to turn down that kind of money, especially when states are so strapped. (Louisiana faces a $1.6 billion budget shortfall next year.) And so many of the GOP governors have backtracked. As much as it might offend them ideologically, they are willing to accept this federal largesse for the greater good of the citizens of [insert state here], who face unprecedented hardship as blah blah blah.
As it turns out, the decision is not entirely up to the governors. When South Carolina’s Mark Sanford started popping off about leaving his state out of the recovery mix, House Majority Whip James Clyburn added language to the bill that empowers a state legislature to accept the stimulus aid if a governor fails to act within 45 days.
I really doubt it will get to that, even in these six states. We’re talking about some genuine ideologues, but no one seriously wants to play Russian Roulette with their own state’s economy. As Beam added, “A state economy can plummet within that time, and no chief executive wants to take the blame for calamity.”
That these six are even exploring the possibility out loud, however, is a reminder of just how far gone some GOP contingents really are, and just what some 2012 hopefulls will stoop to in order to patronize the far-right Republican base.