When President Obama proposed the $787 billion stimulus package that included major investments in state aid, infrastructure projects, health care and education reforms as well as a large group of tax breaks, Bachmann led the conservative movement in denouncing the program. “During the last 100 days we have seen an orgy [of spending],” she said of the stimulus and auto industry bailout during a conference on May 4, 2009. “It would make any local smorgasbord embarrassed.” Less than three weeks later, she went looking for her piece of the pie.
On May 20, 2009, Bachmann asked Secretary Vilsack to look into an application for aid that the city of Big Lake, Minnesota, had made to “develop and finance the Big Lake Rail Park,” which she described as “an ambitious commercial and industrial complex which will enhance economic development and job opportunities in this rural Minnesota community.” At the end of the letter, she added: “We must work together to ensure job creators have access to the vital credit they need to make projects like this a success.”
On May 22, 2009, she wrote Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood asking for support for the St. Cloud, Minn., Metropolitan Transit Commission’s application for federal funds to “replace twenty-three 35-foot transit buses with compressed natural gas (CNG) powered buses.”
On June 4, 2009, Bachmann wrote to LaHood again seeking grant funding to extend the Northstar Corridor commuter service from Big Lake to St. Cloud.
On June 19, 2009, she made an “urgent” request to LaHood to reverse a decision by the Federal Highway Administration that undermined a project in Waite Park, Minn. The project, she noted, had already received $2.578 million in federal funding through the stimulus package and was “only awaiting the final determination” from the FHWA.
On July 2, 2009, she wrote LaHood again, pleading for money for road improvements in Waite Park. She added that she was “pleased to learn” that Minnesota’s Department of Transportation was not going to “pull the nearly $2.8 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding set aside for the project.”
On Sept. 15, 2009, Bachmann wrote six separate letters to LaHood asking for help funding six projects (the Northstar line among them) through the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program.
On Oct. 5, 2009, she wrote Vilsack again, praising him for putting money into the nation’s beleaguered pork industry and encouraging him to help “stabilize prices through direct government purchasing.”
Five days later, she was chastising the concept of government spending in public, saying that the president’s efforts to stem the fallout of the recession amounted to a charade. “We hear about fantasy football games. This is fantasy economics,” Bachmann said.
That the Department of Transportation was the primary target of Bachmann’s quest for federal funds isn’t surprising. The congresswoman has a record of trying to protect infrastructure projects from her party’s budget cutters, arguing that transportation projects should be exempt from the ban on earmarks that the House of Representatives instituted in November 2010. She was also not the only conservative who attempted to get her hands on some of the $12 billion in funds that Department Of Transportation received under the stimulus.
“Some members refuse to take stimulus and won’t have anything to do with getting government transit money flowing into their states. Others will say that they are against the idea of the stimulus or federal money flowing into the economy but if the money is there, they are going to try and get that money flowing into their district,” said Brian Darling, a senior fellow in government studies at The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank.
During the Bush Presidency in February 2007, Bachmann co-signed a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency, and organization that she wants to abolish, urging its officials to help fund technical assistance programs and rural water initiatives “in small communities across Minnesota.” The authors of the letter, which included nearly the entire Minnesota congressional delegation at the time, noted that FY 2006 funding for the National Rural Water Association had been set at $11 million. “We need to continue these efforts in 2007,” they wrote.
In a Feb. 2, 2010, letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, Bachmann asked the agency to support a $270,806 grant application (filed with the EPA’s Clean Diesel Grant Program) that would help a St. Cloud bus company replace two older motor coach vehicles. “Voigt’s Bus Service, with Community Transportation, Incorporated, is committed to bringing long-term benefits to the environment and the economy and they wish to accomplish this through the Clean Diesel Grant Program,” she wrote.
I have only identified very few of a significant number of Republicans who voted “no” on the stimulus Bill but have claimed its success in creating jobs within their districts. In fact, some are even pictured holding giant stimulus checks. Hypocrisy at its finest.
“It’s not illegal to talk out of both sides of your mouth, but it does seem to be a level of dishonesty troubling to the American public,” said Melanie Sloan, executive director of the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. I agree with Melanie except that blatant hypocrisy should not have a place in Government leadership especially among Presidential Candidates. If it’s their mantra during the campaign, it could well spill over to their office if elected. But, that’s just my take.
Tomorrow, my take on “Whining Democrats.”
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