Sen. Lamar Alexander, Tennessee Republican, who easily won re-election in 2008, said of the stimulus, “This is spending, not stimulus.”
In a letter to Mr. Vilsack for a project applying for stimulus money, Mr. Alexander noted, “It is anticipated that the project will create over 200 jobs in the first year and at least another 40 new jobs in the following years.”
Jim Jeffries, a spokesman for Mr. Alexander, said the senator believes his constituents have a right to apply for stimulus funds.
“Sen. Alexander voted against the stimulus because it was too much spending and too much debt for too little benefit to the economy,” Mr. Jeffries said. “Republicans lost that fight and the money will be spent, and because Tennessee taxpayers will end up footing part of the bill, they have a right to apply for the funds.”
Pete Sepp, vice president of the National Taxpayers Union, called that philosophy troubling.
“It’s hard to expect lawmakers to behave like angels when this much money is being airdropped all over the country,” Mr. Sepp said. “But the more strident the rhetoric, the worse it looks. For me, with these grants where they’re saying a project is going to create a certain number of jobs, it makes you wonder: Do they really believe that? Or is it just part of a cynical cash grab?”
Getting their ‘fair share’
Ranked among the most conservative members of the House by the American Conservative Union (ACU), Rep. John Linder, Georgia Republican, posted a blog item on his Web site on Oct. 21, stating that recent unemployment figures “only reinforce the fact that the $787 billion ‘stimulus’ signed into law eight months ago has done nothing for job growth in this country.”
Two weeks earlier, Mr. Linder had sent a letter to Mr. Vilsack backing an application for stimulus money by the Elauwit Community Foundation, records show. With unemployment in Georgia topping 10 percent, “the employment opportunities created by this program would be quickly utilized,” Mr. Linder wrote.
Mr. Linder said the letter doesn’t change his staunch opposition to the stimulus.
“I have opposed every stimulus plan that has come before Congress because it is simply bad policy, but if they pass, the communities in my district which are paying for them deserve to be equally considered in their benefits,” Mr. Linder said.
Another House member who has scored high ACU rankings, Rep. Robert B. Aderholt, Alabama Republican, also voted against and criticized the stimulus.
“Rather than create jobs or stimulate the economy, this massive spending bill was a laundry list of programs that focused on states with big-city urban communities,” he wrote in the Oct. 4 edition of the Daily Mountain Eagle newspaper.
Three days later, Mr. Aderholt sent a letter to Mr. Vilsack on behalf of a foundation seeking stimulus money to expand broadband services in his district.
“Congressman Aderholt supported some of the ideas in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, but disagreed with much of it and that’s why he voted against it,” Aderholt spokesman D.J. Jordan said.