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Republicans and stimulus bill: A study in hypocrisy

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Posted: Saturday, March 27, 2010 12:00 am

One of the best definitions of hypocrisy is "a pretense of virtue, piety." One of the best examples of a hypocritical act is to denounce others for taking an action while taking that action oneself.

Republicans criticized Democrats and Independents for voting for the stimulus bill while they piously voted against it, allegedly because they did not want to increase the deficit. However, if they were strictly adhering to their "principles," they would not increase the deficit by taking money from the bill.

In voting against the bill, many Republicans complained that it would not create any jobs or provide for any benefit for Americans. So let's examine just a few the hypocritical comments and actions of some Republicans after the bill passed without one single Republican vote.

  • Republican Rep. John Linder of Georgia stated that the unemployment figures show that the stimulus bill "has done nothing for job growth in this country." However, two weeks earlier, he had sent a letter asking for stimulus money stating that "the employment opportunities created by this program would be quickly utilized." Washington Times 2/9/10.
  • Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota claimed that the stimulus bill money was "misdirected" and "largely wasted on projects that won't create jobs." 8/28/09. Later, after requesting stimulus funds, he stated that the $130 million that Minnesota was to receive from the bill "will help unemployed Minnesotans survive the economic downturn. Minnesota continues to experience concerns about unemployment and these additional funds will help bring relief to Minnesotans who are unemployed, have entered the unemployment ranks, and we want to do all that we can to help them and the money will be a great step in that direction." Minnesota Public Radio 5/6/09.
  • Perhaps one of the most hypocritical opponents of the bill is Rep. Eric Cantor (VA-7). He condemned the stimulus bill in February as an "utter failure." Culpepper Virginia Star Exponent 11/24/09. However, later he said that the stimulus funding for high-speed rail would create "as many as 185,000 jobs and bring $21.2 billion" to the region, adding, "we've got something good going on and we want to continue that." Richmond Times Dispatch 4/27/09.
  • Sen. Mike Johanns predicted that the stimulus money "would simply never reach the economy and that "it would be hard for me to imagine that we are going to be creating many jobs here." Yet later in asking for stimulus money, he stated that the proposed project "would create 38 new jobs and bring broadband to eight hospitals, five colleges, 16 libraries and 161 K-12 schools." Washington Times 2/9/10.
  • Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee said that the stimulus "is spending, not stimulus." However, he noted that it is anticipated that the project he was requesting stimulus money for will "create over 200 jobs in the first year and at least another 40 new jobs in the following years." Washington Times 2/9/10.
  • Sen. Bob Bennett blasted the bill, saying that the only thing it would stimulate is the national debt. Salt Lake Tribune 10/4/09. Of course, in asking for funding from the bill two days earlier, he had said "The addition of federal funds to these projects would maximize the stimulative effect of these projects on the local economy." Washington Times 2/9/10. Later, his spokesperson Tara Hendershott said funding for Central Utah Water Project is an example of how the senator worked to get money for Utah projects that would create jobs in the stimulus bill. Salt Lake Tribune 2/20/09. So voting against the bill to provide the stimulus money is somehow working for Utah projects.

It may be understandable that Republicans want money for their districts now that the bill has been passed, no thanks to them. However, their pious cries that the bill would not create jobs and their misleading statements that they worked to get money for projects for their constituents rings hollow when it is clear that they voted against obtaining the money for these projects. I guess you could say they were against it before they were for it.

It is the ultimate hypocrisy that Republicans claim that it is Democrats who have led this country down the deficit trail. The two presidents that have produced the largest deficits in this country's history are presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. Those are undisputed facts. Bill Clinton left George W. Bush with a huge surplus, which Bush promptly turned into the largest deficit ever recorded. And it was Republican Vice President Dick Cheney who said that "Ronald Reagan proved that deficits don't matter."

So, now Republicans want to blame one year of Obama's presidency for the present deficit, most of which resulted from Republican policies of the last eight years. Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy, and his disastrous Iraq War were only two of the policies that increased the deficit significantly, since there was never a plan to fund them. Republicans are certainly entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts.

Let's be honest. The Republicans voted against the stimulus bill and almost everything else the Democrats have proposed since Obama's inauguration for one simple reason: They want President Obama's policies to fail so that they can run the country again. Their constant obstruction is nothing more than an attempt to regain power. And there are some Republicans who will do anything to retain it, no matter how hypocritical or deceptive.

Cynthia Neely is a Lodi resident and retired city attorney.

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