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Book of Matthew: Hypocrisy, thy name is Republican

Published: October 23, 2009
Section: Opinions

This may surprise some of you, but there’s a lot of hypocrisy in Washington these days, and it’s coming from the right side of the aisle.

Let’s recap: Back in early 2009, as the economy seemed to be headed toward the greatest depression since the Great one, members of Congress engaged in a heated debate over the merits of an economic recovery act. After much finagling over the makeup and cost of a potential bill, lawmakers finally decided on a $787 billion package.

Signed by President Obama on Feb. 17, the officially named American Recovery and Reinvestment Act began to stave off the decline and save hundreds of thousands of jobs. Americans, though still wary, began to breathe a collective sigh of relief.

Mind you, this was done with almost no help from the GOP. The Recovery Act received only three Republican votes in the Senate and none in the House, since most Republican lawmakers were too busy demonizing the bill to even consider supporting it (or, for that matter, adding anything useful to it). On the floor of Congress and at the podiums of town hall meetings, they spread horror stories about how the act would destroy our country and leave in its place some sort of combined socialist-communist-fascist society in which freedom would be lost forever. Or something like that.

These lawmakers then sat back and watched as their crazed right-wing supporters took to the streets across America in protest of what they saw as skyrocketing government spending and the threat of higher taxes in order to pay for it. With picket signs in one hand, tea bags in the other, and without the slightest hint of irony, these protesters made their stand against an act that had, unbeknownst to them, actually lowered their taxes.

But I digress. The point is that after putting up that kind of fierce opposition, you would think that the last thing Republicans would want to be near is stimulus money being dispersed from Washington. If anything, they ought to be trampling over each other to get as far away from it as possible.

This has not been the case. Let’s be honest, this is Washington we’re talking about. In Washington, “turning down money” is a foreign idea.

It turns out that 67 Congressional Republicans who opposed the Recovery Act have since tried to claim its benefits for their home districts, as documented by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) website.

For example, there’s Representative Frank Wolf (R-VA), who recently attacked Virginia Governor Tim Kaine for being too slow in spending recovery money on state transportation. It’s a funny position to take, especially for someone who didn’t want to give his state the money in the first place.

Then there’s Representative Bill Young (R-FL), who claims to have opposed the Recovery Act, but clearly not enough to take down the various links on his congressional web site that help his constituents “take advantage of federal stimulus money.”

High-ranking Republicans are no strangers to this kind of double-talk either. House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA)—the second-highest ranking Republican in the House—was one of the strongest voices opposed to a government stimulus. That is, until he started pushing for the construction of a high-speed rail line from Washington to Richmond.

But I have to say that my personal favorites are the Republican Congressmen who tried to hide the fact that the money they brought home to their district was actually stimulus money. Congressmen like Jack Kingston (R-GA), who presented a $625,000 check to Cedertown, Georgia, for the purpose of improving the town’s sidewalks—without bothering to tell anyone where the money came from.

It must be nice. It must be really nice. These guys get all the political benefits of bringing home the bacon while still appearing fiscally conservative. And as their supporters complain about Democrats printing increasingly worthless paper money (apparently signed by Treasurer of the United States Friedrich Engels and Secretary of the Treasury Karl Marx), they can sit back and relax, knowing that they are free from criticism.

You know, if this list were made up of Democrats, I can only imagine what kind of smears the right-wing media would push against them (Anti-American socialist flip-floppers!!!). But since it’s just a bunch of Republicans, no one seems to care how hypocritical they are.

I guess what they say in the blogosphere is true: IOKIYAR (It’s OK if you’re a Republican).