While talking about the stimulus today, President Obama repeated his suggestion that Republicans are being hypocritical in publicly condemning the stimulus bill and voting against it while accepting and boasting about stimulus funds for their districts.
Mr. Obama put it this way: “There are those, let’s face it, across the aisle who have tried to score political points by attacking what we did – even as many of them show up at ribbon-cutting ceremonies for projects in their districts.”
The New York Times article mentions that this is becoming a theme for the Democrats, and that the DNC even issued a news release entitled “Eric Cantor is a Hypocrite.”
Greg Mankiw presents a straightforward case that it’s not at all hypocritical to accept the funds:
It seems perfectly reasonable to believe (1) that increasing government spending is not the best way to promote economic growth in a depressed economy, and (2) that if the government is going to spend gobs of money, those on whom it is spent will benefit. In this case, the right thing for a congressman to do is to oppose the spending plans, but once the spending is inevitable, to try to ensure that the constituents he represents get their share.
John McCormack notices that Marco Rubio, in particular, distinguished between advocating a stimulus and accepting stimulus funds:
It’s one thing to say you’ll accept the funds from the federal government. It’s another to actively advocate those policies, which I think are disastrous for America.
Nevertheless, details matter and in many cases these Republicans are being hypocritical. Just as it is one thing to publicly oppose the stimulus and privately accept the funds, it is also one thing to do so grudgingly and another to do so with full-blown ribbon-cutting ceremonies and tributes to the power of government in action. The DNC has helpfully prepared a list of such instances, which you can access here if you so desire. Sic’d:
…Republicans who indignantly raised their fist in opposition to the Recovery Act have, with the other hand, brazenly accepted funding for projects in their home states and districts. Many have even gone so far as to attend ribbon cutting ceremonies for the same Recovery Act projects that they routinely dismissed as wasteful. We’ve identified 93 of them – and counting. These people have in one breath decried the Recovery Act as ineffective and in the next breath championed the funding as essential to job creation. Incredible.
The truth is the Recovery Act is doing exactly what it was intended to do.
Yes. It was “intended” to allow Congress to divvy up huge amounts of money for pet projects and pork without the normal strings attached, and that’s exactly what it is doing. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Republicans are taking part when able, and their hypocrisy is not even close to the worst part about the stimulus bill.