THE CASH-AND-TRASH STORY GETS MORE HUMILIATING…. In one of the more entertaining moments of President Obama’s recent chat with House Republicans, the president offered a spirited defense of the stimulus package that rescued the economy. Obama noted a certain inconsistency in the GOP rhetoric: “[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.”
In some circles, it’s come to be known as 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, but the phenomenon keeps spreading.
Sen. Christopher S. Bond regularly railed against President Obama’s economic stimulus plan as irresponsible spending that would drive up the national debt. But behind the scenes, the Missouri Republican quietly sought more than $50 million from a federal agency for two projects in his state.
Mr. Bond was not alone. More than a dozen Republican lawmakers, while denouncing the stimulus to the media and their constituents, privately sent letters to just one of the federal government’s many agencies seeking stimulus money for home-state pork projects.
The letters to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, expose the gulf between lawmakers’ public criticism of the overall stimulus package and their private lobbying for projects close to home.
“It’s not illegal to talk out of both sides of your mouth, but it does seem to be a level of dishonesty troubling to the American public,” said Melanie Sloan, executive director of the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.
This report is pretty astounding. More than a dozen GOP lawmakers who said the recovery package is simply incapable of creating jobs and generating economic growth pleaded with the Agriculture Department to spend stimulus dollars in their areas to “create jobs” and “spur economic opportunities.” In several instances, far-right lawmakers would publicly condemn the very idea of economic stimulus efforts and request stimulus dollars within a few days of each other.
And remember, this is just one agency of the administration. It’s very likely that many more Republican lawmakers who opposed the recovery package also reached out to other agencies, convinced that the money would do wonders in their state/district.
DNC Communications Director Brad Woodhouse said this morning that “this is a new hypocritical low.” He added, “Republicans who opposed the recovery act and then requested money from it or attended ribbon cuttings for projects in their states are either admitting that they were wrong about the legislation from the beginning, that they were simply playing politics with their vote or that they are hypocrites — take your pick.”
Those lawmakers who insisted the stimulus wouldn’t work, and that federal spending couldn’t possibly be good for the economy, can send their apologies to: President Obama, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue….