Republican Stimulus Opponents Brag About Clean Energy Spending

Our guest blogger is Sarah Collins, intern with the Energy Opportunity team at the Center for American Progress and a graduate of the University of Michigan Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy.

The Congressional Budget Office’s new analysis determined that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) created up to 2.1 million jobs and boosted the economy by up to 3.5 percent in the last three months of 2009. This assessment disproves the claims of nay-saying conservative lawmakers who voted against ARRA and continue to claim that it has not created jobs while wasting money. Despite their opposition to and untrue claims about the nationwide benefits of ARRA, many Congressional Republicans continue to seek funds for clean energy projects and programs that would create jobs in their state or district.

For instance, every member of the Illinois congressional delegation signed a letter urging Gov. Pat Quinn to provide “Recovery Act (ARRA) funding to expand the Illinois Community College Sustainability Network.” Among the signers were Republican Reps. Mark Kirk, Don Manzullo, Peter Roskam, Tim Johnson, Aaaron Schock, and John Shimkus. They received $1.7 million for campus energy projects such as green skills development, decreasing campus energy consumption, energy technology demonstration, and green collar jobs creation. Yet all of these members have attacked ARRA:

Kirk: Out of control federal spending and borrowing is not sustainable and threatens to dramatically increase the long-term tax burden of our children.

Manzullo: The original bill was chock full of spending that would neither create jobs nor stimulate our economy, and very little was focused on job-creating infrastructure improvements and putting money back in people’s pockets so they could re-invest it in the economy.

Roskam: By spending over $1 trillion, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that this legislation will have zero impact on our gross domestic product by 2013, and a negative impact on GDP by 2019 — greatly weakening our economy over time.

Johnson: This plan was flawed from the outset and nearly everything in it runs contrary to common sense.

Schock: And while our unemployment continues to hover around 10 percent, Speaker Pelosi and the Administration continue trumpeting this failed plan as a success story despite the fact they know it has failed to meet the goals they set.

Shimkus: I have expressed my discontent with how much money is being spent in Washington, and my votes reflect that position.

Rep. Judy Biggert (R-IL) applauded the spending of $10.9 million from ARRA to upgrade Naperville’s public utility with over 57,000 smart energy meters and a revamped grid technology. Spokesman Zachary Cikanek was quick to note that although Biggert still believes the stimulus plan is a waste of federal tax dollars, “this was a worthy initiative that she thought did have a strong potential to create green jobs.”

Rep. John Mica (R-FL), meanwhile, congratulated himself for the $1.25 billion that went to fund a high speed rail in the state. “I applaud President Obama’s recognition that high-speed rail should be part of America’s future,” he wrote in a press release. But last November, Mica offered a scathing comment on the Administration’s effort to track stimulus spending and jobs created or saved, saying “every day brings more examples of how this stimulus failed to create jobs and how the Administration’s claims of jobs created or saved are exaggerated.”

Reps. Jean Schmidt (R-OH) and Sue Myrick (R-NC) asked for money so that local organizations could train workers for energy-efficiency projects. But last November, Ms. Schmidt said in a statement, “it is time to recall the stimulus funds that have not been spent before the Chinese start charging us interest.” Her district received $11 million for the project.

Myrick, meanwhile, asked, “why are we going to spend $825 billion on a plan that won’t achieve its goals?” Yet just a few months later, she wrote a letter praising the stimulus as “a critical step in bringing economic opportunities to my congressional district” and that it would “lead to solar energy related jobs in an area hit hard by unemployment.”

Rep. Dan Lungren (R-CA) praised the $127.5 million received by the Sacramento Municipal Utility District for installing “smart meters” in every home and business as a solution to “energy, environmental, and security issues, while previously, he claimed that the stimulus package “didn’t work” and called it a “terrible tragedy.”

Rep. Zach Wamp (R-TN) rejoiced when Oak Ridge Laboratory in Tennessee received $71.2 million. “Secretary Chu’s announcement means more jobs and more economic development opportunities are coming to Oak Ridge. This modernization effort will help keep ORNL as one of our nation’s premier laboratories,” Wamp said. But fewer than three weeks earlier, he said, “we cannot spend our way into prosperity or borrow our way out of debt. This massive spending bill adds a mountain of new debt without incentives for job creation.”

These are just some of the cross dressing conservatives who demagogue about the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in front of microphones, but quietly seek funds for local projects because they know the funds will create badly needed clean energy jobs.

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