when it comes to projects for his own state.
One of the most irritating aspects of the Republican obsession with “wasteful spending” and claiming “the government can’t create jobs” is that they clearly don’t believe their own rhetoric themselves. It is purely a game, for them: something to tell audiences of gullible supporters who want to hear it. In actual practice, however, the rhetoric doesn’t matter a bit. They know they’re lying.
Newsweek put together a compilation of letters from tea party-friendly Republicans asking federal agencies for funds for their own districts. For example, Eric Cantor tried to get about $ 3 billion for a rail project in his state, while decrying rail projects in other states. Other letters are from Allen West, Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, David Vitter and Ron Paul:
The stack of spending-request letters between these GOP members and federal agencies stands more than a foot tall, and disheartens some of the activists who sent Republicans to Washington in the last election.
“It’s pretty disturbing,” says Judson Phillips, founder of Tea Party Nation, when told about the stack of letters from members, many of whom he supported in 2010. “We sent many of these people there, and really, I wish some of our folks would get up and say, you know what, we have to cut the budget, and the budget is never going to get cut if all 535 members of Congress have their hands out all the time.”
Many of the letters seek to tap the stimulus, clean-energy loans, and innovation grants—programs the same Republicans have accused Obama and the Democrats of using to bloat government and jeopardize America’s future. And these fiscal conservatives often used in their private letters the same arguments they pan in public.
Many of the letters, of course, explicitly argue that the federal projects will create jobs in their districts. This would of course be the complete opposite of the vast majority of these dishonest hacks say in public, where they vow that government cannot possibly create employment for people. Of course it can. Other letters are attempts to get funds from some of the exact same stimulus and loan programs that Republicans whine so bitterly against, in speeches; there, too, the private letters recognize the obvious benefit of encouraging specific development efforts.
It’s all a game. It’s all dishonest, they’re all lying, and every one of them is perfectly fine seeking government help for their districts while freely acknowledging the government’s helpful role in stimulating employment, or infrastructure, or industry. That is what is so profoundly irritating: the complete insincerity of the public game. The public motivations may be for “small government” or the like, but the real motivations are simple greed. They want money to improve their districts, but they don’t want other Americans to get the same. They want to cut taxes, but they don’t really want to cut spending: Let’s face it, they have had, over the past decades, ample opportunities to “cut spending” only to instead balloon it. The only things they regularly demand cutting are aid to the poor, or the old, or the sick. But when it comes to government investment in the economy? Oh, they’re all for that. Every last one of them.
And that, in turn, makes the unwillingness to do anything coherent to help the current stagnant economy all the more infuriating. It’s not that these Republicans don’t know that the government can certainly help to lift the economy out of recession or near-recession: They know it, absolutely. They just don’t want to do it. They’d rather America twist in the wind, because they think that makes for better politics.
Eric Cantor may be willing to shut down all of government in order to leverage a few more tax breaks for rich people, or a few more benefit cuts to the unemployed, and he may rail against stimulus measures on a daily basis, but none of it has any ideological underpinning that makes any sense. Which, I presume, is why speeches by Cantor, Ryan and the rest are frequently so muddled and nonsensical. It’s difficult to argue for something when you don’t really believe it yourself, and when you know that the second you go back to your desk, you’re going to have to argue for the complete opposite.