Today, President Obama held a White House meeting with congressional leaders from both parties to discuss his Recovery and Reinvestment plan. Afterward, Republicans made it clear they were not looking to compromise. Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) circled the cable news shows to mock the plan’s infrastructure spending, fixating on — and lying about — one particular and modest proposal to revitalize the crumbling National Mall, which he falsely claimed would receive more stimulus funds than would small businesses:
– When you’re seeing four times as much money spent on grass in Washington — that is actually lawn grass in Washington — than you do to help small businesses, that has your priorities backwards. [MSNBC]
– If you look at the bill that passed the ways and means committee yesterday, for every dollar spent to help small businesses, four dollars is being spent to help upkeep the grass on the lawns of Washington. Again, what does that have to do with a stimulus bill? [Fox News]
Cantor’s claims are simply bogus — in fact, he completely inverts the truth. The draft version of the House stimulus bill released last week plans for four times as much spending on “creating small business opportunity” than National Mall renovations. These figures don’t even include the plan’s $20+ billion in business tax cuts, of which small businesses will be able to take advantage. Compare the numbers:
If Cantor were truly “singularly focused on protecting and preserving and creating jobs,” as he claims to be, he would jump on the infrastructure bandwagon. Infrastructure spending creates twice as many jobs as tax cuts. In fact, as Matthew Yeglesias notes, the sort of tax cuts that Cantor champions are among the “least efficient ways” to stimulate demand in the economy.
And of course, the National Mall funds will be spent on more than “grass.” Projects on the long to-do list — all of which will require new workers and create jobs — include repairing the Tidal Basin’s seawall, adding restrooms to the Mall, and renovating some of the nation’s most treasured buildings and monuments.
Adopting the conservatives’ frame, ABC News’ Jack Tapper highlighted the spending on the National Mall during today’s White House press briefing to question whether the plan would be stimulative. “There’s no question that the president believes that the bill is stimulative,” Press Secretary Robert Gibbs replied.