Red state Republicans rail against Biden’s economic programs — while taking full advantage of them

Red state Republicans rail against Biden’s economic programs — while taking full advantage of them

When the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Joe Biden, Republicans in red states were quick to slam it as “socialism.” But Washington Post opinion writer Catherine Rampell, in her December 27 column, emphasizes that what Republicans say and what they actually do can be two very different things — and that some of the Rescue’s Plan’s loudest GOP critics haven’t been shy about taking advantage of it.

“Always remember the First Law of Fiscal Policy: ‘Wasteful’ government spending is only the spending that goes to other people — not to me,” Rampell explains. “When Democrats passed their $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan in the spring, it received zero GOP votes. At the time, Republican politicians decried the stimulus package as ‘wasteful’ and a ‘parade of left-wing pet projects’ that was ‘bankrupting our children.’ In the months since, however, Republicans have been touting projects in their states and districts financed by that very same bill.”

Rampell offers specific examples of Republicans who railed against the Rescue Plan Act before helping themselves to the funds.

“This unearned credit-hoarding began almost immediately,” Rampell observes. “Before the bill even hit President Biden’s desk, Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) trumpeted its benefits for restaurant owners, while omitting mention of his own ‘no’ vote, naturally. Similar boasts soon followed from Republican Reps. Madison Cawthorn (NC), Elise Stefanik (NY), Troy Balderson (Ohio), Beth Van Duyne (Tex.) and others.”

Rampell continues, “Republican state officials who once derided the bill as irresponsible, mistargeted or unfair are also now eagerly hoovering up its money. Even so, some still claim to oppose it.”

Rampell cites South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem as a perfect example of a MAGA Republican who has helped her state to Rescue Plan funds despite having slammed the legislation.

“In her recent budget address,” Rampell notes, “South Dakota Gov. Kristi L. Noem (R) blamed Biden’s agenda for ‘horrifically high inflation’ and called the stimulus package a ‘giant handout.’ She then indicated she was happy to stick her own hand out: Noem urged state lawmakers to spend South Dakota’s COVID-relief allotment on investments in water infrastructure, public health, workforce development, child care and many other issues that sound a lot like Democratic priorities.”

Rampell adds, “Noem said she considered refusing the funds. But she changed her mind, she said, because the money might then go to ‘California, to New Jersey, maybe Illinois, Michigan or Minnesota.’ That is: bluer states, where politicians are presumably less capable fiscal stewards.”

In contrast to former President Donald Trump — who expressed nothing but contempt for blue states that didn’t vote for him in 2016 — Biden has made it abundantly clear that his economic policies are designed to benefit states regardless of whether they voted for him or Trump in 2020. And that includes the Rescue Plan Act.

“Constituents are entitled to relief funds and public investments, even if the Republicans they elect sometimes claim otherwise,” Rampell argues. “But it might be helpful if voters, on occasion, noticed that Republicans are having their cake and gorging on it, too: condemning unspecified ‘Biden policies’ as irresponsible and inflationary, while gobbling up credit for those same policies whenever they prove popular.”

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