Officials in Troy, Michigan, worked for years to build a local transportation center, and the Obama administration agreed to fully fund the project with federal stimulus money. In fact, the local community would have received an $8.5 million grant to cover all of the costs, with no strings attached.

But Troy’s elected leaders decided to turn down the money. Their Tea Party principles told them it was a bad idea.

The terminal, which would help Troy become a transportation node on an upgraded Detroit-to-Chicago Amtrak line, was hailed by supporters as a way to create jobs and to spur economic development. But federal money is federal money, so with the urging of the new mayor, who helped found the local Tea Party chapter, the City Council cast a 4-to-3 vote this week against granting a crucial contract, sending the project into limbo.

“There’s nothing free about government money,” Mayor Janice Daniels said in an interview. “It’s never free, and it’s crippling our way of life.” […]

The Troy transit center’s construction … required no local contribution, and its predicted annual maintenance cost of $31,000 was, in the context of the city’s $50 million budget, “de minimis,” said Mark Miller, the assistant city manager.

Troy’s ridiculous, right-wing mayor justifies the decision by saying it’s more important to pay down the federal debt than it is to create jobs in her community. This only helps underscore one of the problems with Tea Party governance: it’s often based on striking ignorance (the $8.5 million grant will now go to help create jobs in some other area, not go back to the Treasury to pay down the debt).

Even Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, who’s proving to be a very conservative Republican, sent a letter to Daniels before the vote, explaining that the federally-funded project would have “significant, positive economic development on your community and the state.” It didn’t matter.

The Troy Chamber of Commerce, which worked for years to help with the plans for the transportation center, is reportedly outraged by the city council’s stupidity, and the president of a local manufacturing company said the community could use the economic boost the transit center would have provided, but will now go without.

There’s a fair number of voters who believe liberal Democrats are bad for the business community. That is, of course, backwards — it’s not the left opposed to economic development and public investments; it’s the hysterical right.

Steve M. encouraged business leaders to take a moment to consider “what they were doing to themselves when they threw in with the Ayn Rand Fan Club. Maybe they should ask themselves who’s helping them more, the president who insults them occasionally but hasn’t thrown a single one of them in jail, or people like Janice Daniels who love capitalism the way a stalker loves a celebrity.”

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.