February 25, 2009 in Opinion

Smart Bombs: A Tony for baloney

By The Spokesman-Review

Now that the Oscars have been handed out, let’s turn our attention to the political theater surrounding the federal stimulus package. Several Republican governors are solid candidates for Tony Awards for acting like they didn’t want any part of what U.S. Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, called a “giant fraud.”

In Congress, only three Republican senators voted for the package; no GOP House members voted for it. Their opposition was based on the fear the bill would usher in an era of disastrous socialism. I think that’s overwrought, but I can respect a principled stand. So, naturally, states run by Republicans would reject the money to help protect America from ruin, right?

Here is Risch on C-SPAN: “Well, you know, our governor and a number of the leaders in Idaho originally were ‘Thanks, but no thanks,’ people. But I guess if the money’s on the table, everybody’s going to reach for it. There’s no question about it.”

What? Grab fraudulent dollars with socialist strings attached? Gives new meaning to “red state.”

No thanks, but thanks. To his credit, Idaho Gov. Butch Otter has been more reserved in his opposition to the stimulus than governors who may end up running for president. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Mark Sanford of South Carolina and Sarah Palin of Alaska have grabbed national headlines, but my guess is they’ll end up taking most of the funds. Sanford wrote a Wall Street Journal column titled “Don’t Bail Out My State.” Now he says he will take some of the money. Suggested title for a follow-up column: “Posturing for the Presidency.”

Playing both sides. The best political acts belong to two members of Congress who voted against the stimulus package and then rushed out press releases touting their part in securing funds for their states.

“I applaud President Obama’s recognition that high-speed rail should be part of America’s future,” said John Mica, R-Fla.

A McClatchy article also noted that Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, put out dueling press releases on the same day. The first one reported that he “won a victory for the Alaska Native contracting program and other Alaska small business owners last night in H.R. 1, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.”

That’s the name of the stimulus bill that he characterized in a second press release as “a vehicle for pet projects, and that’s wrong.”

Smart Bombs is written by Associate Editor Gary Crooks and appears Wednesdays and Sundays on the Opinion page. Crooks can be reached at garyc@spokesman.com or at (509) 459-5026.

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