HATCH SEES ‘IDIOCY’ IN SCRAPPING SPENDING…. There’s a key similarity between health care reform and the Recovery Act — it’s a lot more popular in specific than in general. Ask folks if they like the Affordable Care Act, and they’re likely to say, “No.” Ask them if they like what’s in the Affordable Care Act, and you get a very different answer.

Similarly, ask a Republican lawmaker if they approve of the stimulus, and he/she is certain to say, “Of course not.” But ask him/her about stimulus projects in their district, and wouldn’t you know it, the spending looks a whole lot better.

Zaid Jilani reports today on the Central Utah Project (CUP), which “has provided much-needed irrigation and power generation for the state’s citizens.” Utah Republicans prefer not to talk about it, but the CUP initiative received an enormous boost from the stimulus, installing a new pipeline, creating jobs, etc.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R) is now worried the federal spending — investments Hatch and his party are generally desperate to cut — might dry up.

Concern there is political consideration in the Obama administration to zap funding for CUP in 2012 has top policymakers in Utah launching a pre-emptive strike to protect against any diminishing of dollars. “My gosh, it would be idiocy to not finish this project,” Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said. […]

Although actual budgetary decisions will not be made for months to come, Hatch said even a hint of eliminating funding is serious enough to raise alarm. “This is a serious decision that should not be a political decision,” Hatch said. “It is not a matter of politics, it is a matter of doing what is right.”

Of course, there are all kinds of officials in every state, all of whom believe projects in their area are “right,” and that cutting funding for them would be “idiocy.”

Something for Hatch to keep in mind when his GOP cohorts vow to slash spending on “wasteful” programs.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. 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.