Putting the GOP’s hatred of government spending to the test

PUTTING THE GOP’S HATRED OF GOVERNMENT SPENDING TO THE TEST…. I feel like I’ve seen stories like these dozens of times recently, but I’m glad they keep getting published. The repetition is probably necessary.

While scores of congressmen and women are singing an ode to spending reductions with their Republican choir in Washington, back home, the tune sometimes changes.

In town-hall-style meetings and in interviews with local news media in recent weeks, some Republican members have been backing away from the cuts made in various spending bills passed by the House. In some cases, they are trying to circumvent the very cuts they voted for.

As House Republicans continue to press Democrats this week for even bigger cuts in a bill to avert a government shutdown, it is likely that more and more members of Congress will face constituents who, while supportive of the concept of cutting federal spending, do not care much for the specifics.

Such inconsistencies, while hardly new to this Congress, are political chum for Democrats.

“You cannot vote to cut veterans’ benefits in Washington and then go pose for pictures with veterans back in the district,” said Representative Steve Israel, who runs the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “There is a pattern of duplicity here, and we’re going to make sure it comes back to haunt them.”

The anecdotal evidence is extensive, and at a certain level, amusing. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R) from the state of Washington ran on an anti-spending platform and railed against the stimulus. Shortly after taking office, Herrera Beutler supported H.R. 1, her party’s budget bill, which killed funding for a vital port project in her district, only to turn around and work to restore the federal investment.

Rep. Bobby Schilling (R-Ill.) voted to kill a transportation project in his district, but now says he hopes his community gets the money anyway. Rep. Michael Turner (R-Ohio) voted to slash the budget of the National Nuclear Security Administration, but now wants to restore the funding he tried to cut. Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-Ill.) voted to cut medical research at a lab in his district, but now says he’s for the funding he voted against. Rep. Frank Guinta (R-N.H.) voted against transportation grants for an important bridge in his district, but then worked with the Department of Transportation to secure the funding anyway.

For two years, Republicans railed against the Recovery Act, but were all smiles at the ribbon-cutting ceremonies for the job-creating projects it financed in their communities. Indeed, they repeatedly urged the administration to invest more in their states and districts, claiming it would help the local economies. (Aren’t they supposed to believe spending is bad for the economy?)

Now they’re in the House majority, voting to kill worthwhile public investments, and they’re hoping their constituents believe they don’t really mean it.