Yesterday, the House Oversight and Government Reform committee held a hearing on the implementation of the Recovery Act, also known as the stimulus. Republican members invited former GOP Majority Leader Dick Armey, who now leads the corporate front group FreedomWorks, to testify as their expert witness. After listening to Armey argue at length about the merits of even having any government intervention in the economy, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) asked him if he supported the unemployment compensation provisions of the bill. Armey said he might, but conceded that he had not read that portion of the bill. Van Hollen then extracted a confession that Armey had not even read the bill at all, even though he was appearing as an expert and repeatedly goes before the press to criticize the stimulus:
VAN HOLLEN: Let me ask you think. You keep saying ‘if there were,’ did you read the Economic Recovery bill?
ARMEY: No I didn’t. I had no reason to read it, I wasn’t voting on it.
VAN HOLLEN: You’re commenting on it an awful lot, both here and in the press, about the Economic Recovery bill. We ask members of Congress to read it when they vote on it and are considering it. You’ve said a lot about it, so I’m a little surprised that you have not read it. […] It seems to me we owe it to people we are communicating with we have an understanding an read the information.
Ironically, as part of an effort to obstruct and derail the bill, Armey launched an online petition called “ReadTheStimulus.org.” In another bit of irony, although he postures as a fierce ideological opponent of the stimulus, Armey actually worked as a lobbyist to help businesses gain from the stimulus. According to disclosures, he was paid to lobby on behalf of Cape Wind Associates and the Medicines Company on the stimulus. His son, Scott Armey, who runs his own lobbying shop, has also worked with businesses to gain stimulus funds.