Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 18, 2009

REPUBLICANS ENDORSE SOME OF THE STIMULUS.... On Friday, McClatchy ran an interesting item, noting some House Republicans who were bragging about expenditures in the economic stimulus package, without noting their opposition to it.

It's apparently a pretty common phenomenon right now. On the one hand, GOP lawmakers are thrilled with themselves for their unanimous rejection of the recovery bill. On the other, these same Republicans would really like the voters back home to credit them for the good stuff in the bill.

Even though their party almost completely opposed the massive economic stimulus package, some Republicans are racing to embrace funding in the measure even as the national party sticks to their strategy of slamming Democrats who voted for the bill.

Now that the massive $787 billion package has passed the House without a single Republican vote and cleared the Senate with just three centrist Republicans in favor, a number of GOP members of Congress have seemingly changed their tunes and are now touting money that will flow into their districts.

It initially appeared that we were only looking at a handful of GOP lawmakers who were engaged in this stunt. But in the five days since the bill passed both chambers, it's become increasingly common. The Hill noted some of the House members bragging about the bill they opposed, and Ali Frick and the DCCC highlighted several others.

To be fair, I understand the Republican argument, and it's not completely unreasonable. They disapprove of the spending measures in the legislation overall, but they proudly support the money headed for their districts. If they could have voted for just those expenditures, they would have done so. But since it was a yes-or-no proposition on the whole package, they felt compelled to reject it. That's fine; it's what the opposition party is expected to do.

But the result nevertheless leaves Republicans in a very awkward spot -- they're bragging about the measures in a bill they opposed. They're effectively telling their constituents, "Look at all the great stuff in this bill I just voted against!"

It's not complicated -- lawmakers shouldn't take credit for legislation they reject.

Steve Benen 3:40 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (25)

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They disapprove of the spending measures in the legislation overall, but they proudly support the money headed for their districts.

For me, it's just the opposite: I would more fully support the bill if it didn't have any money headed for their districts.

Posted by: qwerty on February 18, 2009 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

So will they hang it around their necks if it fails like they intend to do with the D"s?

Posted by: Roger on February 18, 2009 at 3:36 PM | PERMALINK

What they're banking on, of course, is that most of their constituents don't even know they voted against the stimulus.

That's the bet the republicans make: people just don't know what's going on, so you can say anything and get away with it.

Posted by: bdop4 on February 18, 2009 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

This is why Republicans can't be trusted to govern--when they were in the majority they voted for massive spending(only for their districts and whatever the Pentagon wanted, natch) along with massive tax cuts. Now we're supposed to believe that they've seen the error of their ways.
Yeah, I don't think so.

Posted by: Allan Snyder on February 18, 2009 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

The stimulus bill that Obama got thru despite these deformed repiglicans is already creating this incredible shift of psychology in the state that i live in .. the local news channels abuzz with what is directly and actually is going to do to help us all here .. starting with STATE EMPLOYING PEOPLE next week in all kinds of 'shovel ready' jobs, forest jobs, construction jobs, and so on. The is the actual reality despite all the deformed repiglicans progaganda, and despite the Corporate Media's lies about the affect of this stimulus bill.
Maybe people like Lou "i am a corporate hemmoroid' Dobbs can simply go out and buy a giant tube of Preparation H and liberally apply it to themselves. That would indeed take care of a lot of problems.

Posted by: stormskies on February 18, 2009 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

Good point. How hard would it be to be for a congressman who voted against everything that passes into law but takes credit for it anyway?

Hey, I voted against (insert any piece of controversial legislation here) but it passed and so I'm taking credit for whatever benefit there is to it.

So were these guys against it or for it? Is this some strange kind of 'line item veto' for what parts of a law that you take credit for?

I don't understand it. These guys need to take a stand and stick with it. I'm not asking my congressperson if they intended to vote for something or if they felt like voting for the measure but didn't.

My congressman is going to hear about this and I'm not taking this BS, wishy-washy, play both sides of the field answer for an excuse.

It's like these guys can't take these issues or the American public seriously. They have to play these silly games during a major economic crisis.

Posted by: QuestionEverything on February 18, 2009 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK

And I know t becomes tiresome, but don't forget the damn blue dogs. This is from Bobby Bright's press release about voting against the stimulus:

http://www.bright.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=85&Itemid=62
"Though I did not support this bill, it is still my responsibility to ensure that Alabama gets its fair share of funding and projects and that taxpayer money is used for its intended purposes. I will work with my colleagues in Congress and the administration on the implementation of this legislation, and I will continue to work with members of both parties to find solutions that will help our struggling economy."

Screw 'em

Posted by: martin on February 18, 2009 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

You write: "I understand the Republican argument, and it's not completely unreasonable. They disapprove of the spending measures in the legislation overall, but they proudly support the money headed for their districts."

I'm glad you do, because I don't. This is the definition of "pork," and everybody knows that the GOP opposes "pork." I know this because McCain made it the centerpiece of his campaign.

On the other hand, of course, we really do need to cut the tax on capital gains.

Posted by: CMcC on February 18, 2009 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

This is not without precedent. You may recall that many Republicun House members expressed their enthusiasm for "working with President Clinton" on particular legislation - right after they'd voted to impeach him.

Posted by: CT on February 18, 2009 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe from now on if the majority of a states reps vote against the plan that state's money should be spent elsewhere.

Posted by: Larry G on February 18, 2009 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

CMcC - You got it. "I only wanted our pork, but I was against everyone else's."

Posted by: Danp on February 18, 2009 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK

The $787 billion stimulus is routinely called "massive" in media reports.

Yet, every single year, year after year after year, the US Congress spends over $600 billion on the military -- but this is not called "massive" by the media. Indeed it is rarely even mentioned in the media.

Why is that?

Posted by: SecularAnimist on February 18, 2009 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

I think what's going to hurt them is the very thing they're crowing about - their unanimous opposition. Had say, 50 of them voted for the plan, most could have gotten lost in the fog with the average voter. But that unamimous thing makes it unmistakable, even for low information voters, that if it's a republican, it voted against economic recovery.

Posted by: JoeW on February 18, 2009 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

Pick just one of these fools, and bombard his district---every registered Republican in the entire district---with proof that he/she/it "voted against getting America out of Mr. Bush's Greater Depression."

---Voted to let bridges collapse out from under school buses full of kids.

---Voted to let old people die for lack of health care.

---Voted to let families go homeless, and starve.

---Voted to let factories close, and grocery shelves to go empty, and Arabian oil princes to continue stuffing their pockets full of American dollars.

We can---and should---make this so horrifically expensive for them that they not only fear for their jobs---but for their very lives. We are, after all, fighting an insurgency; thus, fighting a war....

Posted by: Steve W. on February 18, 2009 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

Pork for me but not for thee.

Posted by: larry birnbaum on February 18, 2009 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK

Pick just one of these fools, and bombard his district---every registered Republican in the entire district---with proof that he/she/it "voted against getting America out of Mr. Bush's Greater Depression."

Or how about hitting them on what's supposed to be their strength, taxes. After all, the stimulus bill was the largest tax cut in history, and we know from the GOP that if you oppose a tax cut you are in effect raising taxes. So try this ad:

"President Obama and his Democratic allies in Congress just passed the single largest tax cut in American history. Unfortunately, every single Republican Congressman -- including [insert local Rep's name here] voted against that tax cut. Call [local Republican congressman] and ask him why he voted to raise your taxes in the middle of a recession."

Posted by: Stefan on February 18, 2009 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

I mentioned it several days ago, the main point of "no earmarks" in the stimulus was to deprive republicans from slipping in their own pork at the beginning of the process.

Now they are forced to compete (beg) for stimulus dollars. Senate Minority Leader called this a "phone-mark". In other words, congressmen will phone the administration and beg for their project. But they will also have to work with state and local officials to identify stimulus projects which satisfy the criteria: creating jobs, saving jobs, etc. So they will have to admit that the money is working as intended.

This must really suck for them, it's going to stick in their side for several years.

Posted by: tomj on February 18, 2009 at 4:43 PM | PERMALINK

Next spending bill, they should break it down to district by district amendments, then see if they vote against it.

Tell the Repub reps, "However you vote, the Dem Caucus will vote with you," thus their vote will determine if their district gets a dime. Then on the overall vote on the bill, if they reverse their votes, start over with no amendment for those reps' districts that reversed themselves.

Totally impractical, and unworkable, but it would be interesting.

Posted by: superfly on February 18, 2009 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

You wrote:

"If they could have voted for just those expenditures, they would have done so. But since it was a yes-or-no proposition on the whole package, they felt compelled to reject it. That's fine; it's what the opposition party is expected to do."

I agree with everyone who's blasting the R's for their hypocrisy. But why, Steve, are you so gentle with these idiots? The Republicans weren't studiously reviewing this bill and seriously weighing whether it made sense or not. They were mindlessly following party-line discipline, like they've been doing for more than a decade.

It's not fine. They are lemmings. And now they want credit for a bill they would have scuttled.

Posted by: DanG on February 18, 2009 at 5:01 PM | PERMALINK

Now they are forced to compete (beg) for stimulus dollars. Senate Minority Leader called this a "phone-mark". In other words, congressmen will phone the administration and beg for their project. But they will also have to work with state and local officials to identify stimulus projects which satisfy the criteria: creating jobs, saving jobs, etc. So they will have to admit that the money is working as intended.

If the Obama administration makes this an e-mail mark as opposed to a phone mark, it is the most brilliant administration in history.

Posted by: anonymiss on February 18, 2009 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

Two words:

Terri Schiavo

The Republicans are idiots.. Dumber now than then!

Posted by: The Galloping Trollop on February 18, 2009 at 5:11 PM | PERMALINK

The story -- Little Red Hen Goes to DC -- needs to be written soon.

Posted by: exlibra on February 18, 2009 at 5:41 PM | PERMALINK

But the result nevertheless leaves Republicans in a very awkward spot -- they're bragging about the measures in a bill they opposed. They're effectively telling their constituents, "Look at all the great stuff in this bill I just voted against!"

And they ought to each be targeted with ads on radio and TV in their district, pointing out this fact. Hound the little futhermuckers into the ground and remember, "the only 'good Republicans' are pushing up daisies."

Posted by: TCinLA on February 19, 2009 at 12:17 AM | PERMALINK
If they could have voted for just those expenditures (the ones going to their district), they would have done so.

So, if I understand that right: If Obama had approached each individual GOP congress critter and showed them in a table only the stuff that would go to their district; then the entire Chamber would have enthusiastically embraced the Stimulus bill.

Now, does that also imply that Republicans wholeheartedly approve of 'pork' for their own districts, even though they say the bill was full of pork from democrats and that's why they opposed it?

Posted by: bruno on February 19, 2009 at 12:24 AM | PERMALINK

Silly bruno, if it's for their district it isn't pork. Pork is spending in the other guy's district.

Posted by: Gregory on February 19, 2009 at 9:38 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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