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Republicans Slam Stimulus On Fifth Anniversary — But Most Took Credit For It Back Home

By Igor Volsky  

"Republicans Slam Stimulus On Fifth Anniversary — But Most Took Credit For It Back Home"

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Monday marks the five-year anniversary of the passage of the American Recovery Act, President Obama’s $800 billion stimulus stimulus package that invested in everything from infrastructure projects to electronic medical health care records and alternative energy sources. Every single Republican in the House and almost every Republican in the Senate — with the exception of Former Sens. Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Arlen Specter (R-PA), and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) — voted against the measure and today the GOP continues to deride the law as wasteful an ineffective.

But as ThinkProgress reported throughout 2009, over half of the GOP caucus praised the effects of the stimulus or took credit for the federal dollars in their home districts and states — despite repeatedly voting against it in Washington D.C. Below is a list of the top 13 stimulus hypocrites:

1. Paul Ryan requested stimulus funds for jobs in his district.

Paul Ryan

CREDIT: AP

The Wall Street Journal reported “Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican who called the stimulus a ‘wasteful spending spree’ that ‘misses the mark on all counts,’ wrote to Labor Secretary Hilda Solis in October in support of a grant application from a group in his district which, he said, ‘intends to place 1,000 workers in green jobs.’” Ryan also wrote letters to the Secretary of Energy requesting stimulus funds for a local energy company in 2009. Ryan repeatedly voted against the stimulus.

2. Eric Cantor held a job fair with organizations that received stimulus funds, supported using stimulus funds.

Eric Cantor

CREDIT: AP

As the Washington Post reported, “nearly half of the 30 organizations participating in a job fair Cantor is holding Monday in Culpeper were recipients of the stimulus.” That sumer, Cantor also “came under fire after he talked about his support of using stimulus money to build a rail project from Washington to Richmond.” Cantor repeatedly voted against the stimulus.

3. Mitch McConnell bragged about stimulus projects, requested more money.

Mitch McConnell

CREDIT: AP Photos/Susan Walsh

McConnell and Rep. Ben Chandler (D-KY) toured a construction site at the Blue Grass Army Depot in Madison County, Kentucky. McConnell quickly took credit for the new construction, noting that he and Chandler had inserted an additional $5 million into the 2010 budget. McConnell bragged: “This is going to be a source of significant employment. At the peak, we could have up to 600 people working on this, and we believe the substantial majority of those workers will be Kentuckians.” However, McConnell conveniently forgot to mention that even more additional funds for facility construction were awarded through the stimulus. A Defense Department report states that $5,876,000 has been allocated from the Recovery Act to the Blue Grass facility for repairs. (Chandler voted for the stimulus.) McConnell repeatedly voted against the stimulus.

4. John Boehner admitted stimulus funds would create “much needed jobs.”

John Boehner

CREDIT: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Despite repeatedly voting against the American Recovery Act, Boehner thanked federal officials for stepping in and ordering the state “to use all of its construction dollars for shovel-ready projects that will create much-needed jobs.”

5. Lamar Alexander asked for a stimulus job grant.

Lamar Alexander

CREDIT: AP

The Washington Times reported: “Sen. Lamar Alexander, Tennessee Republican, who easily won re-election in 2008, said of the stimulus, ‘This is spending, not stimulus.’ In a letter to Mr. Vilsack for a project applying for stimulus money, Mr. Alexander noted, ‘It is anticipated that the project will create over 200 jobs in the first year and at least another 40 new jobs in the following years.’” Alexander repeatedly voted against the stimulus.[Washington Times, 2/9/10]

6. Cathy McMorris Rodgers took credit for $35 million in stimulus highway funds.

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA)

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA)

CREDIT: Gage Skidmore on Flickr

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) released a statement taking credit for $35 million dollars in stimulus highway money. The House GOP website featured the McMorris Rodgers release on the one year anniversary of the stimulus. “I am pleased The U.S. Department of Transportation has chosen to award $35 million for the North Spokane Corridor,” she wrote in a press release. “This is precisely the type of project the government should be funding.” McMorris Rodgers repeatedly voted against the stimulus.

7. Jack Kingston issued a press releases bragging about bringing stimulus jobs to his district.

Rep. Jack Kingston

CREDIT: Bill Clark/Roll Call

On July 28th, 2009 Rep. Jack Kingston’s (R-GA) press office fired off two releases bragging about a $106,901 grant for the Alma Police Department and a $138,286 grant for the Jesup Police Department in Georgia. These grants, distributed by the Department of Justice for the “hiring of new police officers, to combat violence against women, and to fight Internet crimes against children,” were fully-funded by President Obama’s Recovery Act. Kingston repeatedly voted against the stimulus.

8. Steve King claimed credit for highway stimulus funds he voted against.

Steve King

CREDIT: AP/Alex Brandon

The Iowa blog Bleeding Heartland reported: Rep. Steve King’s (R-IA) office “issued an upbeat statement about $570,000 included in the economic stimulus bill that will go toward widening U.S. Highway 20 in a rural area of northwest Iowa. Of course, the statement did not mention that King voted against the stimulus. Nor did the brief news item in the Sioux City Journal.” King repeatedly voted against the stimulus.

9. Phil Gingrey handed out giant stimulus checks in Georgia.

Paul Broun

CREDIT: AP

Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) appeared in the city of Cedartown, Georgia, to present a giant check of $625,000 in stimulus funds to the city commission to help fund the the city’s Streetscape project, which will install new sidewalks and infrastructure. Gingrey repeatedly voted against the stimulus.

10. Kevin McCarthy praised stimulus funding for local courthouse.

Kevin McCarthy

CREDIT: AP

According to a document published by ABC News, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) praised $31 million in stimulus funds for a Bakersfield courthouse. “I applaud this funding for the Bakersfield Federal courthouse,” McCarthy said. “Over the years, we have faced many obstacles related to this project, but worked together as a community to ensure that this project remained a high priority and would come to fruition.” McCarthy repeatedly voted against the stimulus.

11. Louie Gohmert signed a letter requesting stimulus funds for NASA.

Louie Gohmert

CREDIT: AP

According to the Houston Chronicle, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) penned a letter arguing that stimulus funds for NASA would “secure good jobs and stabilize our economy.” Gohmert repeatedly voted against the stimulus.

12. John Cornyn wrote two letters asking for stimulus funds.

John Cornyn

CREDIT: AP

The Wall Street Journal report: “The Environmental Protection Agency received two letters from Sen. John Cornyn of Texas asking for consideration of [stimulus] grants for clean diesel projects in San Antonio and Houston.” Cornyn repeatedly voted against the stimulus.

13. Lindsey Graham claimed it would be “crazy” not to accept recovery dollars.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)

CREDIT: AP

During an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) was asked whether South Carolina should “take the [stimulus] money,” to which he replied, “I think that, yes, from my point of view, I — you don’t want to be crazy here. I mean, if there’s going to be money on the table that will help my state, but I’ve got a job to do up here, and that is to try to help people and not damn the next generation.” Graham repeatedly voted against the stimulus.

***

TIME’s Michael Grunwald reports that the Obama administration will release a report this week showing that the Recovery Act “increased U.S. GDP by roughly 2 to 2.5 percentage points from late 2009 through mid-2011, keeping us out of a double-dip recession… added about 6 million ‘job years’ (a full-time job for a full year) through the end of 2012…[and] directly prevented 5.3 million people from slipping below the poverty line.” The Congressional Budget Office — and most economists — agree that the law “created higher output and employment than would have occurred without it.”

Update

In a video released Monday, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) argued the stimulus “clearly failed,” noting that “unemployment remains stubbornly high and our economy isn’t growing fast enough – proof that massive government spending, particularly debt spending, is not the solution to our economic growth problems.” But in December of 2009, Rubio told NBC’s Tampa affiliate WFLA, “Ultimately I would have accepted those portions of the money that would not have put Florida in a worse position off in the future than it is right now.’” Rubio later clarified his position to the Weekly Standard: “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.”

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