‘Cash-and-trash’ makes a comeback

‘CASH-AND-TRASH’ MAKES A COMEBACK…. Earlier this year, around the one-year anniversary of the Recovery Act, the “cash-and-trash” strategy took shape in earnest. It went a little something like this — Republicans would express their hate for the stimulus and “trash” it at every available opportunity, but at the same time, love the stimulus and grab the “cash” when it came to creating jobs in their own states/districts.

The Washington Times, for example, found that more than a dozen Republican lawmakers, all of whom insisted that the stimulus was an awful idea that couldn’t possibly help the economy, quietly urged the Department of Agriculture to send stimulus money to their areas, touting the investments’ economic benefits. A week later, the Wall Street Journal found that more than another dozen GOP members, all of whom also said they loathe the Recovery Act, urged the Department of Labor, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Forest Service to send stimulus money to help their constituents and local economies.

This week, the Wall Street Journal moved the ball forward a little more. (thanks to reader P.H. for the tip)

Opposition to the Obama administration’s economic-stimulus package didn’t stop at least 24 congressional Republicans from lobbying the Department of Energy on behalf of companies and constituents who wanted stimulus contracts and grants from it.

Reps. Jo Bonner of Alabama, Dan Lungren of California, Doug Lamborn and Mike Coffman of Colorado, Lynn Westmoreland, Jack Kingston and Nathan Deal of Georgia, Jerry Moran of Kansas, Fred Upton, Vernon Ehlers, Thaddeus McCotter, Candice Miller and Pete Hoekstra of Michigan, Jim Jordan and Michael Turner of Ohio, Joe Wilson of South Carolina, Phil Roe and Zach Wamp of Tennessee and Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington along with Sens. Mike Crapo of Idaho, Sam Brownback of Kansas and Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker of Tennessee and Bob Bennett of Utah wrote to Energy Secretary Steven Chu and top Energy Department officials asking them to consider particular recipients for stimulus dollars in 2009. […]

The Energy Department is distributing around $48 billion in stimulus money, for projects such as modernizing the electric grid, advanced energy research, renewable energy and advanced battery manufacturing.

Now, the Republican response to questions like these is obvious, and at face value, it doesn’t necessarily seem ridiculous. There’s a whole lot of investment going on, the GOP argues, so it’s only fair to ask for some of that money to help in their states/districts. They opposed the stimulus, the pitch goes, but if the funds are there anyway, it’s not unreasonable to seek some resources for their constituents.

And that’s fine, as far as it goes. But there’s a larger context to consider here — the letters help show that Republicans know that stimulus funding works. For all their palaver about how government spending is simply incapable of creating jobs and generating economic growth — or worse, that the Recovery Act actually hurts the economy — we know they don’t mean it. Indeed, we have the written requests for stimulus funds to prove it.

As Rachel Maddow explained a while back, “It shows not only that Democratic policies work — and when push comes to shove, in their home districts, Republicans know it — it also shows that Republicans care so little about policy that they’re O.K. with holding totally nonsensically contradictory positions on important stuff.”

After noting the dozens of Republican lawmakers who’ve sought stimulus aid to help the economy in their states and districts, Rachel added, “These Republicans are acknowledging, in writing, that the stimulus is good policy. That it works. Thus proving that they don’t mean it when they denounce the stimulus as worthless.”