The ‘cash-and-trash’ strategy

THE ‘CASH-AND-TRASH’ STRATEGY…. At this afternoon’s event in Baltimore, there was quite a bit of discussion about the stimulus and economic recovery efforts. Not surprisingly, Republicans weren’t happy with the initiative, and President Obama presented a spirited defense.

Of particular interest, though, was the president reminding the stimulus’ GOP detractors of a point they’d prefer to overlook: “[A] lot of you have gone to ribbon cuttings for the same projects that you voted against. I say all this not to re-litigate the past, but it’s simply to state, the component parts of the recovery act are consistent with what many of you say are important things to do.”

So true.

Congressional Republicans will make opposition to President Barack Obama’s 2009 stimulus plan a centerpiece of their 2010 campaign.

They’re plying reporters with polls raising doubts about the stimulus, demanding that Democrats say whether they still support the stimulus and declaring, as Minority Whip Eric Cantor did on the “Today” show Wednesday, that “the stimulus hasn’t worked.”

There’s just one catch: According to a tally kept by the White House, at least 65 congressional Republicans have touted the stimulus dollars that have flowed into their own states.

It’s being called the “cash-and-trash strategy” — Republicans hate the stimulus package and “trash” it at every available opportunity, but love the stimulus package and grab the “cash” when it comes to creating jobs in their own states/districts. It’s been going on for a year now, but with 65 congressional Republicans making the list, it’s getting pretty embarrassing.

The point isn’t just to highlight GOP hypocrisy, though that is entertaining. The more important point is that, whether detractors like it or not, the recovery effort prevented a depression, generated economic growth, and created jobs — even in districts represented by Republicans. The more proponents remind voters about this — yesterday’s HSR event in Tampa was a very good idea — the better.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.