“I find it interesting that you have a lot of the Republicans running around and pushing back on the stimulus money and saying this doesn’t create any new jobs. Then, they go out and they do the photo ops and they are posing with the big check and they say, ‘Isn’t this great?’”
A quote from a high-ranking Democratic official? Nancy Pelosi? Howard Dean?
Nope: Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Republican governor of California.
Democrats have begun to push back against GOP criticisms of their $862 billion stimulus package, noting that many of the Republicans who’ve attacked the measure have sought funds themselves. And the number of those who voted against the bill who have cashed in is growing. According to a count by Bloomberg News, more than 100 Republicans and several Democrats who voted against the bill have written to collect on the cash they didn’t want spent.
Among the critics who’ve now sought money from Obama Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood:
* Republican South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham “wrote LaHood asking for $360 million to improve Interstate 73 near Myrtle Beach. The construction funding ‘is expected to create 5,789 new jobs in the I-73 corridor region,’ said the letter, one of a dozen grant pitches signed by Graham.” Spokesman Kevin Bishop told Bloomberg: “We have to pay it back, so we might as well ensure that we get our share of the money.”
* Republican Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole called the stimulus a “recipe for disaster” last year; today he’s seeking “funding for a grant to help develop an international trade center on a 2,700-acre industrial park, a project he called ‘a catalyst for the potential creation’ of almost 30,000 jobs.”
* Republican Texas Rep. Kay Granger sent out a statement on the anniversary of the stimulus calling the measure “government waste at its worst.” Just months before, she signed her name to six grant proposals, including a toll-road project in the suburbs of Dallas and Fort Worth that she posited “would create approximately 3,500 jobs in the local community,” the wire service said.
* Republican Texas Rep. Pete Sessions dubbed the stimulus “a massive spending binge by the Democrat-controlled Congress,” only he requested money for four different projects — among them a proposal to add a Dallas streecar line. Bloomberg notes the project got $23 million.
* Republican Florida Rep. John Mica said he applauded “President Obama’s recognition that high-speed rail should be part of America’s future,” shortly after the House passed the Democrats’ stimulus bill — which he’d just then voted against.
* Republican Indiana Rep. Steve Buyer labeled the stimulus bill a “sham” last year, but fired off a personal missive to Obama’s Transportation Secretary seeking $80 million for highway construction, which he called “vital to the economic health of North Central Indiana.” In closing, Bloomberg notes that Buyer wrote: “Ray, appreciate your personal attention. Steve.”
Democrats who voted against the stimulus and then sought stimulus money included Rep. Heath Shuler (D-NC), Rep. Walt Minnick (D-ID) and Rep. Parker Griffith (R-AL) — a Democrat at the time who has since become a Republican.
But perhaps the best was Alaska Republican Rep. Don Young, who said the “bill was not a stimulus bill. It was a vehicle for pet projects, and that’s wrong.”
He promptly cheered his own success in getting a pet project into the bill, saying that he’d “won a victory for the Alaska Native contracting program and other Alaska small business owners last night in H.R. 1, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.”
Want to see if your congressman voted against the stimulus and then tried to cash in? Click here.