The stimulus is not ‘multiple choice’

THE STIMULUS IS NOT ‘MULTIPLE CHOICE’…. Chuck Schumer thinks it’s time for Jindal, Sanford, et al, to cut the nonsense. Good for him.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) has a message for Republican governors hemming and hawing over whether to accept the stimulus money Uncle Sam is mailing to each state: Take it or leave it.

Several GOP governors, including Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal and South Carolina’s Mark Sanford, have cited ideological differences with the stimulus spending and suggested they may take some parts of it and decline the rest. For Schumer, it’s all or nothing.
“No one would dispute that these governors should be given the choice as to whether to accept the funds or not. But it should not be multiple choice,” Schumer writes in a letter to Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag.

Schumer’s argument is two-fold. One, the effectiveness and “integrity” of the program is dependent on states accepting the entire package. Two, states can’t legally cherry-pick from the stimulus package: “Section 1607(a) of the economic recovery legislation provides that the Governor of each state must certify a request for stimulus funds before any money can flow. No language in this provision, however, permits the governor to selectively adopt some components of the bill while rejecting others. To allow such picking and choosing would, in effect, empower the governors with a line-item veto authority that President Obama himself did not possess at the time he signed the legislation.”

Kevin Drum raises a very good point: Schumer is, in at least one respect, doing the far-right governors a favor. Jindal, Sanford, and their cohorts know their states need the stimulus, know that unemployment insurance delivers a very effective bang-for-the-buck stimulus. and know that their pathetic posturing puts their constituents at risk. Schumer is effectively giving them an out — they’d love to turn down some of the money, but the Big Bad Democrats wrote the bill in such a way as to make that impossible.

“I guess that’s OK,” Kevin noted. “A bit of Republican theatrics won’t hurt us, and at least this means that Louisianans will get the unemployment benefits that Jindal tried to deny them. Which is not only good for them, but good for the economy too.”

On a related note, Jindal used to think very differently about unemployment insurance. House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) noted today, “In the wake of a natural disaster after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast in 2005, then-Congressman Jindal cosponsored and supported legislation to expand unemployment benefits and inject federal dollars into Louisiana’s unemployment trust fund. Yet today in the face of a financial disaster and record unemployment, he opposes similar action under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. What changed?”

What a good question.

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