GOP spending hypocrisy revealed; teabaggers among worst offenders

Posted on November 7, 2011

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For a group of people who paraded around in ridiculous costumes, making outlandish claims and swearing before god (and then, country) that they – personally – were going to put an end to reckless pork-barrel spending in Washington, there sure are a lot of teabaggers with deer-in-the-headlights glaze over their eyes as the 2011 Congressional spending report becomes known.

A Newsweek investigation shows Tea Party lawmakers have been grabbing hundreds of billions from the government trough, and there isn’t one TEA Party member who isn’t on the lsit.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor loves to waggle the government-bashing accusatory finger with his relentless attacks on runaway federal spending. To Cantor, an $8 billion high-speed rail connecting Las Vegas to Disneyland is wasteful “pork-barrel spending.” The Virginia Republican set up the “You Cut” Web site to demonstrate how easy it is to slash government programs. And he made the Department of Housing and Urban Development the poster child for waste when he disclosed that the agency was paying for housing for Ph.D.s.

But once he’s safely away from the prying eyes of the public, Cantor happily feeds at the federal spending trough, including the very stimulus law he acrimoniously bashes in public. Letters obtained by Newsweek show him pressing the Transportation Department to spend nearly $3 billion in stimulus money on a high-speed-rail project — not the one he derided in Nevada, but another in his home state because “Virginia deserves better.”

“Virginia … will demonstrate that this historic investment in rail will create jobs, reduce congestion, spur economic growth and improve our environment,” says a letter Cantor signed with other Virginia members in October 2009, cribbing President Obama’s own argument for the stimulus.

Cantor signed several such letters, including an earlier one seeking rail funds a month after he went on national television attacking the almost-identical Las Vegas rail project. He also signed a letter in October 2009 seeking $60 million to build commercial ships, some likely along Virginia’s coastline. As for his bashing of HUD, until last year he owned upwards of $80,000 in preferred stock in a real-estate company that receives federal housing assistance from the department.

As the government showdown over debt continues, Newsweek found about five dozen of those claiming to be the most fiscally conservative Republicans, from Tea Party freshmen like Allen West to anti-spending presidential candidates like Rick Perry and Ron Paul, trying to gobble up the very largesse they tell us is “going to be the ruination of this great country,” in the time-honored, budget-busting tradition of bringing home the bacon for local constituents.

The stack of spending-request letters between these GOP members and federal agencies stands more than two-feet 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 more than 3,000 pork requests from TEA Party 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 requests are for stimulus dollars, 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 requests the same exact arguments they attack others for using in public.

Seizing on the Obama administration’s decision to make a risky half-billion-dollar loan to a struggling solar firm named Solyndra, Republicans like House Speaker John Boehner and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman Darrell Issa have recently accused Democrats of trying to pick winners and losers and questioned the need for the Energy Department loan-guarantee program at the center of the controversy. But both Boehner and Issa struck a different tone in requests for help from that program in their home states: Boehner wants $41 Billion for a uranium project in Ohio, and Issa wans $88 Billion for an electric-car company in California.

“Awarding this opportunity to Aptera Motors will greatly assist a leading developer of electric vehicles in my district,” Issa wrote in January 2010, just 18 months before he began investigating the Solyndra controversy. An Issa spokesman has said the grant was never funded, and that Aptera was on better financial footing than the now-defunct Solyndra. Boehner’s office says the nuclear project had gone through a rigorous vetting process for funding, unlike Solyndra.

So, while the whole “global warming hoax” goes on, Republicans are convinced – or are at least trying to convince each other – that their pork tastes better than Democrat pork.

While most Americans sit at home and eat Ramen noodles because they can’t afford pork.

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