When Republicans love stimulus spending

I have to admit, I never tire of stories like these.

…Rep. Frank Guinta (R-NH) kicked it old school on Thursday by cutting the ribbon on a new road that received millions from the same spending bill he opposed.

Guinta spoke at the opening ceremony for Raymond Wieczorek Drive, a new access road connecting various towns to the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport. Later he posted a picture of the event on his official Facebook page. Other attendees included Gov. John Lynch (D) and New Hampshire House Speaker William O’Brien.

“It’s going to help us with our tourism, our economy, and it’s going to provide us greater flexibility for our residents, our business commuters, and those visiting our state,” Guinta said at the event. “It’s a real example of how when we put our mind to it we can accomplish anything we want to accomplish.”

These examples are a lot less common now, not because GOP officials have become more responsible, but because Recovery Act funding has just about been exhausted. But when the instances come along, they tend to be doozies.

In this case, Guinta absolutely loathes stimulus spending — his hatred for these public investments was a central part of his 2010 campaign platform — but that didn’t stop him from trying to take credit for the infrastructure project that was financed by stimulus spending. That this new project wouldn’t exist if Guinta had his way didn’t interfere with his smiles at the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Now, every time these examples come up, I get some pushback. As the argument goes, these Republican lawmakers who hate stimulus spending and want stimulus spending at the same time aren’t really doing anything wrong, because once the funds are available, members of Congress have a responsibility to look out for their districts’ interests.

There’s certainly some truth to this, and I can fully appreciate the importance of fighting for a slice of a pie. After all, their taxpaying constituents are paying for these investments whether they like it or not.

The problem, though, is the ways in which this practice pokes holes in the larger Republican ideology. GOP lawmakers like Guinta run around telling the public that public investments can’t create jobs and are bad for the economy. GOP lawmakers like Guinta then also tell the public investments can create jobs and are good for the economy.

Look again at those remarks the conservative Republican lawmaker made at the ribbon-cutting ceremony: because Congress agreed to spend this money, over his objections, Guinta’s community will get a larger economic boost. But if that’s true, why has Guinta fought so hard to kill this and related investments? Isn’t boosting the economy a worthwhile goal?

If there’s money on the table, and Republicans want to fight for some of it, fine. But what gets me are the ideological arguments that are as wrong as they are cynical — public spending will undermine the economy, unless it’s in my area, in which case it will be good for the economy.