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Taking Credit for the Stimulus: Republicans Reach ‘Height of Hypocrisy’

This was inevitable.

Despite unanimous opposition from House Republicans to the Democrats’ $787 billion economic stimulus plan, members of the GOP are now cheering certain elements of the bill that will benefit their districts, The New York Times reports today.

Just hours after voting against the bill on the House floor last week, Representative John L. Mica of Florida issued news releases lauding the inclusion of $8 billion for high-speed rail projects around the nation. Mr. Mica said the bill would also help pay for a commuter train project in his Central Florida district.

“If we could put a man on the moon, we should be able to move people from city to city quickly instead of wasting time on a congested highway,” said Mr. Mica, the ranking Republican on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. “I applaud President Obama’s recognition that high-speed rail should be part of America’s future.”

This is no surprise. A bill like the stimulus puts Republicans in a pickle, as their political instinct to decry the federal spending runs smack into the reality that the money pays for services their constituents need, particularly in the middle of a disastrous economic environment. Nor can GOP leaders fall back on the tired line that the stimulus represents another case of the Democrats’ “tax-and-spend” tendencies — not with $287 billion in tax rebates included in the package.

Instead, you get “small-government” Republicans like Rep. Don Young (Alaska) cheering the enormous spending bill as “a victory for the Alaska Native contracting program and other Alaska small business owners,” The Times reports.

The Republicans defend this inconsistency with the claim that they can support certain elements of the stimulus without having voted for the package as a whole.

A spokeswoman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Jennifer Crider, characterized the trend more accurately. It is, she told The Times, “the height of hypocrisy.”

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