Newsweek has just published a in-depth look into some of the “anti-government spending” darlings of the right and how they actually love government spending, when it’s for them:
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, the Republican leadership’s tether to the Tea Party, flutters the hearts of the government-bashing, budget-slicing faithful with his relentless attacks on runaway federal spending. To Cantor, an $8 billion high-speed rail connecting Las Vegas to Disneyland is wasteful “pork-barrel spending.” The Virginia Republican set up the “You Cut” Web site to demonstrate how easy it is to slash government programs. And he made the Department of Housing and Urban Development the poster child for waste when he disclosed that the agency was paying for housing for Ph.D.s.
But away from the cameras, Cantor sometimes pulls right up to the spending trough, including the very stimulus law he panned in public. Letters obtained by Newsweek show him pressing the Transportation Department to spend nearly $3 billion in stimulus money on a high-speed-rail project—not the one he derided in Nevada, but another in his home state. “Virginia ... will demonstrate that this historic investment in rail will create jobs, reduce congestion, spur economic growth and improve our environment,” says a letter he signed with other Virginia members in October 2009, cribbing President Obama’s own argument for the stimulus.
This is the same Eric Cantor who wanted to deny people federal disaster aide unless government spending was cut. Rather ironic considering some of that government spending could be coming from his own requests.
Seizing on the Obama administration’s decision to make a risky half-billion-dollar loan to a struggling solar firm named Solyndra, Republicans like House Speaker John Boehner and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman Darrell Issa have recently accused Democrats of trying to pick winners and losers and questioned the need for the Energy Department loan-guarantee program at the center of the controversy.
But both Boehner and Issa struck a different tone in requests for help from that program in their home states: Boehner for a uranium project in Ohio, and Issa for an electric-car company in California. “Awarding this opportunity to Aptera Motors will greatly assist a leading developer of electric vehicles in my district,” Issa wrote in January 2010, just 18 months before he began investigating the Solyndra controversy. An Issa spokesman has said the grant was never funded, and that Aptera was on better financial footing than the now-defunct Solyndra. Boehner’s office says the nuclear project had gone through a rigorous vetting process for funding, unlike Solyndra.
This is really interesting given the news today that the House has subpoenaed the White House over Solyndra.
But here’s one that is a real kicker:
Fellow Texan Ron Paul, also a government basher on the campaign trail, has participated, too. Between December 2009 and last fall, Paul wrote three letters to top Transportation Department officials seeking more than $150 million to finish a high-speed-rail project in Texas. “This potential lack of sufficient funding will severely limit future projects and the full implementation of true high speed rail,” he and 10 colleagues pleaded to Joseph Szabo, head of the Federal Railroad Administration. Paul told Newsweek that the money was already on the table—if federal money has already been allocated in a spending bill approved by Congress, he sees it as his job is to secure some for his district: “Adding earmarks to a bill does not increase federal spending by even one penny.”
As Bob Cesca points out, a President Ron Paul would get rid of the Department of Transpiration. Hypocrite much Ron?
Or how about Tea Party darling Michele Bachmann?
Likewise, presidential hopeful Rep. Michele Bachmann, the Minnesota Republican who formed the Tea Party caucus in Congress, asked the Transportation Department in April for $750,000 in federal money to boost passenger traffic at a small airport in St. Cloud, Minn. (population: 65,000). She closed her letter saying that the grant would be “sound spending of taxpayer dollars.”
Or Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry?
Texas Gov. Rick Perry, whose presidential campaign is focused on shrinking the size and burden of government, wrote a letter accepting more than $2 billion from the stimulus for his state.
That would be the very same Rick Perry who wanted to have his state secede from the union over the stimulus.
Politicians are all the same in that they say one thing and then do the other. The problem here is that so many actually believe these individuals are dead set against government spending, but they aren’t. Also, if you put a D beside the name of any of these politicians, the R version would be labeling them as a “big spending socialist”. Maybe it’s time they look into the mirror.