If Only Hypocrisy Were a Crime…
A great piece in The Washington Times today reveals a remarkable degree of hypocrisy from some GOP critics of last year’s $787 billion economic stimulus bill.
More than a dozen Republican lawmakers, while denouncing the stimulus to the media and their constituents, privately sent letters to just one of the federal government’s many agencies seeking stimulus money for home-state pork projects.
The letters to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, expose the gulf between lawmakers’ public criticism of the overall stimulus package and their private lobbying for projects close to home.
Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.), for example, sought more than $50 million for two projects in his state, the Times found. Sen. Robert Bennett (R-Utah) also blasted the stimulus bill as wasteful, yet two days before voting against it, Bennett “privately forwarded to [USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack] a list of projects seeking stimulus money,” the Times notes.
“I believe the addition of federal funds to these projects would maximize the stimulative effect of these projects on the local economy,” he [Bennett] wrote.
Still another vocal stimulus opponent, Rep. Joe “You Lie” Wilson (R-S.C.), was also busy lobbying for pork, the Times discovered, even as he was accusing the Democrats of promoting the “same old, tired big spending agenda.” A Wilson spokeswoman defended the discrepancy, telling the Times that the lawmaker “opposed the stimulus as a ‘misguided spending bill,’ but once it passed, he wanted to make sure South Carolina residents ‘receive their share of the pie.’”
Some government watchdogs had a different take.
“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.