Yesterday, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) demanded a halt to stimulus spending, saying money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act should be diverted to paying down the deficit. McConnell, who lead the opposition to the stimulus in the Senate, has been an ongoing critic. “You do have to wonder, though, whether the stimulus has had any impact at all,” mused McConnell earlier this month on Fox News. A McConnell spokesman recently summed up the senator’s sentiment, noting, “By any measurable index, the stimulus package has been a failure.”
But despite McConnell’s steady stream of criticisms and demands that money stop flowing to projects, he has been a vocal champion of the stimulus in his home state.
Yesterday — the same day he asked for Recovery Act money to be diverted — McConnell and Rep. Ben Chandler (D-KY) toured a construction site at the Blue Grass Army Depot in Madison County, Kentucky. The facility, which is used to contain and destroy chemical weapons compiled during the Cold War, is in desperate need of repair and has leaked Sarin gas as recently as last year. 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.
It’s not the first time McConnell has championed projects funded by the “failed” stimulus to his constituents. When Kentucky put forth a request for advanced battery technology funds from the stimulus, McConnell lauded the effort to ask for more money as “a major victory for the commonwealth of Kentucky” that would “allow the citizens of Kentucky to play a key role in accelerating America’s independence on foreign sources of oil.” At a town hall meeting last week in London, KY, McConnell slammed President Obama and his economic policies. But he then sheepishly added, “I hope London will get some of” the stimulus money.
Economic hypocrisy may be one of the lasting legacies of McConnell. Though he is claiming to oppose many of Obama’s reforms because of a principled sense of fiscal conservatism, as the New York Times has noted, McConnell won reelection last year on a platform boasting of his ability to bring back “old-fashioned pork” to his state.