Today marks the one year anniversary of President Obama signing into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, better known as the stimulus. As the economy continued to crater after President Bush left office, Obama’s stimulus sought to provide tax cuts for 95% of working Americans, funds to buoy cash-strapped state governments, new construction and infrastructure projects, and other programs to create jobs, retrain workers, and promote economic activity throughout the country. In December, the Congressional Budget Office reported that the stimulus had successfully created up to 1.6 million jobs, and today, a report shows the Recovery Act will ultimately create 2.5 million jobs. Even the conservative American Enterprise Institute found that the stimulus had boosted the U.S. economy by 4 percent.
House Republican leaders have fought to maintain partisan unity in their effort to kill the stimulus. And they were largely successful. Every single Republican in the House and every single Republican in the Senate — with the exception of Sens. Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Susan Collins (R-ME), and then-Republican Sen. Arlen Specter — voted against the Recovery Act. By drawing a sharp distinction between Obama and the GOP, Republican leaders gambled on casting the stimulus as a failure in order to win elections in 2010. In a coordinated effort, Republicans have used every opportunity to attack the stimulus for allegedly failing to create “a single job.”
Last month, President Obama admonished Republicans for going to “ribbon cuttings for the same projects that you voted against.” It’s true: Last year, Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO) appeared at a ribbon cutting event for GetAbout Columbia’s MKT Plaza, a pedestrian walking and recreation area funded by the stimulus. (See picture at top right.)
ThinkProgress has investigated opponents of the Recovery Act, reporting throughout the year that many of the lawmakers who tried to kill the legislation have been returning to their home states to claim credit for popular stimulus programs. In a new research report, ThinkProgress finds that over half of the GOP caucus, 110 lawmakers — from the House and Senate — are guilty of stimulus hypocrisy. Among some of the key findings:
— Top Republican Senate Recruits Are Stimulus Hypocrites: As ThinkProgress reported, Rep. Mike Castle (R-DE), a candidate for Senate, touted over $5 million in stimulus programs he voted to kill. Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL), the GOP nominee for Senate in Illinois, signed a letter urging Gov. Pat Quinn to provide “Recovery Act (ARRA) funding to expand the Illinois Community College Sustainability Network.”
— GOP Leadership Leads The Way In Hypocrisy: Although he regularly slams the stimulus as a waste while in DC, McConnell has returned to Kentucky to take credit for stimulus programs, even taking time to request more funds. ThinkProgress attended two job fairs held by Cantor, where we found dozens of employers able to hire directly because of the stimulus. Indeed, even Boehner’s office released a statement boasting that the stimulus will create “much needed jobs.”
— The Audacity Of Hypocrisy Knows No Bounds: Many opponents of the stimulus have been quite brazen with their ability to try to claim credit for the program. For instance, Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) spent the morning of July 28th railing against the stimulus, yelling “Where’s the stimulus package? Where’s the jobs?” on the House floor. On the same day of his rant, Kingston’s office sent out multiple press releases bragging that he had secured hundreds of thousands in stimulus funds to hire additional police officers in his district. Other stimulus opponents, like Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) — who has called the stimulus a “trillion dollar debt bill” — have printed out jumbo-sized ceremonial stimulus checks to present to local communities to try to garner positive press.
Individually, over half of the entire Republican caucus has hailed nearly every aspect of the stimulus as a success — from infrastructure funds, to food programs, to education grants. But politically, admitting its success might harm the GOP’s chances in November. So with Republicans fixated on winning politically, they have focused on deceiving the public by calling the stimulus a failure, while pretending successful programs aren’t stimulus funded.