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. A year later, GOP officials are still railing against the economic life-preserver.

Well, at least most of the time. Occasionally, Republican lawmakers who hated the stimulus brag about how great its provisions are for their state/district. Take Delaware’s Mike Castle, for example.

Rep. Mike Castle (R-DE) has staggered to the right, voting against the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (also known as the stimulus), financial regulation reform, the recent jobs package, and health reform. Running for the U.S. Senate this year, Castle has cast aside his image of a GOP moderate and joined his conservative colleagues in their reflexive opposition. But despite his right-wing voting record, Castle is attempting to drum up positive media coverage by claiming ownership over one of the progressive measures he voted to kill.

In the past two weeks, Castle has blasted multiple press releases publicizing stimulus funds awarded to his state. In his most recent release, he not only calls the money “imperative,” but in “announcing” the funds, he tacitly claims credit for securing them.

What impresses me is not just the hypocrisy, but how common this is. It seems as if every few weeks we see yet another congressional Republican who thought the recovery package was an awful idea, but who nevertheless thinks the federal recovery efforts for their constituents is a great idea.

About a month ago, it was Rep. Bill Shuster (R) of Pennsylvania. A few weeks before that, it was House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R) of Virginia.

Over the last several months, Bobby Jindal, Mitch McConnell, Saxby Chambliss, Johnny Isakson, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry joined the same club. They 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.

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, and which we would have made worse had we been in power.”