House GOP leader goes off-message, praises stimulus

HOUSE GOP LEADER GOES OFF-MESSAGE, PRAISES STIMULUS…. Almost immediately after the stimulus became law last year, congressional Republicans have run into some rhetorical trouble — there’s a consistency problem with their message.

On the one hand, the GOP insists that the Recovery Act was an awful idea and a terrible failure, which actually hurt the economy. On the other, the GOP seeks out Recovery Act funding for their states and districts, explaining that stimulus money will create jobs and spur economic growth. The Republican “Highway Hypocrites” — bash the recovery initiative, except when you’re at the ribbon-cutting ceremony — just have to hope voters don’t notice the contradiction.

It creates plenty of examples like these.

California Rep. David Dreier, the top Republican on the House Rules Committee, signed his name to an Aug. 2 letter to the president, inviting him to attend a celebration ceremony for a stimulus project that will take place Friday in Pomona. The letter stated that the stimulus project has created “good-paying, high-quality jobs.”

The letter, signed by Dreier and three other Democrats, went on to say that the unveiling of “the world’s first rapidly recharging, battery-powered electric bus,” dubbed the “Ecoliner,” would be a “unique opportunity to highlight some of the administration’s most important objectives and accomplishments.”

Just so we’re clear, that’s a leading House Republican praising a Democratic stimulus-package program for creating “good-paying, high-quality jobs.”

Asked for a comment, a Dreier spokesperson said the conservative congressman “in no way endorses the stimulus as a success.” Perish the thought.

A similar story also popped up recently in Texas, where Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) not only requested stimulus funds for NASA, but also showed up to celebrate the groundbreaking for a health clinic in his district, made possible by a $250,000 investment from the Recovery Act. (The same clinic will also benefit from the Affordable Care Act, which Barton also hates.)

At the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Barton, who sought and received funding through the stimulus bill he fought to kill, justified his position by saying the clinic “is a worthy project that deserves our support.”

I don’t doubt that’s true, but a) that project wouldn’t exist if Barton had his way; and b) there are all kinds of similarly worthy projects funded nationwide thanks to a stimulus bill that helped prevent an economic catastrophe.