- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 7, 2009

Is it hypocritical for a lawmaker to oppose the stimulus plan, then steer constituents to its benefits?

The committee devoted to electing congressional Democrats says so. It’s been assembling a “hypocrisy hall of fame” listing Republicans who are “shamelessly taking credit for a bill they voted against.”

Excluded from the hall: Democrats who also voted no.

The Democrats’ House campaign committee scoured the public record and came up with statements from 22 Republicans who opposed the package and now are accused of celebrating it.

It’s a selective approach that slams Republicans for opposing the package and lets Democrats off the hook for doing the same.

“I’ll do anything I can to make this work,” Rep. Denny Rehberg, Montana Republican, said in one example cited by the Democrats.

That’s no different than what Idaho Democratic Rep. Walt Minnick, also a stimulus opponent, said afterward:

“I disagreed with the bill,” he said, but “it is now up to all of us to do the very best we can to make it work.”

Republican Rep. Christopher Lee of New York is upbraided by the Democratic committee for saying: “Now that the bill is passed, I obviously want to ensure I do fight for projects in western New York.”

That sounds much like Democratic Rep. Bobby Bright of Alabama after he cast his vote: “Though I did not support this bill, it is still my responsibility to ensure that Alabama gets its fair share of funding and projects, and that taxpayer money is used for its intended purpose.”

Mr. Bright has a prominent link on his Web site to information about how communities and groups can apply for money from the package.

The committee is using phone calls, e-mails and text messages in select Republican districts to tell voters their lawmaker voted against recovery and tax cuts, part of a campaign against Republican members considered vulnerable in 2010.

“Americans will hold House Republicans accountable for ‘just saying no’ to the largest tax cut in American history and saving or creating 3 to 4 million jobs,” predicted Maryland Rep. Chris Van Hollen, committee chairman.

No House Republican voted for the package. Seven Democrats joined them in opposing final passage.

Republicans did not see the plan as a historic tax cut; if anything, many of them wanted more tax relief and less spending. That’s not stopping Democrats from telling Republican districts their Congress member stood in the way of lower taxes, and will pay for it politically.

Indeed, according to the Democratic committee’s automated phone calls to a dozen districts, voting against the package for any reason means voting “to raise taxes on middle-class families.”

In making that charge, they give a pass to one of their own who voted for the first House stimulus plan but opposed the final version because of its tax cuts.

Oregon Rep. Peter A. DeFazio, in breaking with most Democrats, said “$326 billion in tax cuts won’t build bridges, educate our children or even fill in potholes.”

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