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Biden's Covid stimulus bill brings out GOP hypocrisy once again

Republicans are relishing in the political benefits of a stimulus bill they voted against. We've been here before.
Image: Mitch McConnell during a press conference.
Ah, the Republican mind at work.Samuel Corum / Getty Images; MSNBC

Despite every single Republican in the House and Senate voting against Biden’s American Rescue Plan, we know Republicans will still try to take credit for the parts of the $1.9 trillion package that help their constituents.

If the GOP didn’t have hypocrisy, what would it have?

If the GOP didn’t have hypocrisy, what would it have? OK — it would still have white supremacy. But when it comes to Democrat-backed bills and specifically stimulus packages, there’s a special brand of hypocrisy that defines the Republican Party. And we can expect to see more glaring examples of it in connection with President Joe Biden’s Covid-19 stimulus bill.

We’ve already seen one example: Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., shared an article about the rescue plan on Twitter the day before President Joe Biden signed the relief bill into law, writing: “This funding will ensure small businesses can survive the pandemic by helping to adapt their operations and keep their employees on the payroll.”

Wicker was swiftly called out for trying to promote a provision that will help his constituents after voting against the bill.

To which he responded, “One good provision in a $1.9. trillion bill doesn't mean I have to vote for the whole thing.” Ah, the Republican mind at work.

Wicker is by no means alone as he tries to have it both ways in telling voters he opposed the Democrats’ spending bill while trying to benefit politically from the aid it provides his constituents.

This GOP hypocrisy is so predictable that Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., chair of the House Budget Committee, warned this would happen on March 10 during the House floor debate on the Covid-19 relief bill.

Yarmuth stated, “What we are all concerned about on our side is that the Republicans are all going to vote against this, and then they’re going to show up at every ribbon-cutting, and at every project funded out of this bill, and they’re going to pump up their chests and take credit for all of these great benefits that are coming to their citizens.”

But it was Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who perfectly summed up the GOP’s political dishonesty when it comes to Democratic spending bills in six words: Republicans “vote no and take the dough.”

The GOP pulled this exact move with former President Barack Obama’s $787 billion stimulus bill in 2009.

How can Pelosi, Yarmuth and the rest of us be so certain that others in the GOP beyond Wicker will “vote no and take the dough”? Simple: The GOP pulled this exact move with President Barack Obama’s $787 billion stimulus bill in 2009, which was designed to address the economic devastation of the Great Recession. Not one single Republican in the House supported that bill, and only three Senate Republicans cast their votes for it.

But guess how many GOP members of Congress would later gleefully attempt to take credit for the funds from Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that helped their constituents? At least 114, according to ThinkProgress, which documented each of the instances in the years that followed the passage of the act.

And some of the same Republicans who gave us a master class in hypocrisy are still in Congress today. There’s House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy, who voted against Obama’s stimulus package twice but didn’t let it stop him from bragging to constituents about delivering $31 million in federal funding that helped a project in his California district.

In March 2009, McCarthy declared, “I applaud this funding for the Bakersfield Federal courthouse,” noting after years of “obstacles,” that “finally, we are about to jump over that hurdle and bring a federal courthouse to Bakersfield.” There was no mention, of course, by McCarthy that the funding came from Obama’s stimulus package he opposed.

McConnell seemed to conveniently forget to mention that over $5 million of the money used to build that “source of significant employment” was from Obama’s Recovery Act.

Then there’s Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who voted against Obama’s stimulus bill but then boasted to voters in his home state of Kentucky that he helped deliver federal funds to build the Blue Grass Army Depot, which he said would be “a source of significant employment.” McConnell seemed to conveniently forget to mention that over $5 million of the money used to build that “source of significant employment” was from Obama’s Recovery Act.

Rep. Steve Scalise, now the second-ranking Republican in the House, opposed Obama’s stimulus package but later took credit for the federal grants awarded to his district in southeast Louisiana that flowed from it. The list goes on — you get the idea.

This is why in 2010 Obama said, “I have to point out, though, that some of the very same folks in Congress who opposed the Recovery Act … have been all too happy to claim credit for Recovery Act projects and the jobs those projects have produced.”

Obama even told Republican members of Congress to their faces in 2010 that the same ones who opposed the stimulus package still “have been at the ribbon-cuttings for some of these important projects in your communities" funded by said stimulus package.

And this is why we can expect to see Republicans who voted no still joyfully taking the dough. The only question is, will voters hold the GOP accountable for this hypocrisy? They didn’t in the 2010 midterm when the GOP picked up 63 House seats.

Hopefully, the 2022 midterm will be different. We’re off to a good start with Biden who, together with Vice President Kamala Harris, is taking to the road to sell and explain the details of the relief plan. By the end of their “Help is Here” tour, the hope is that Americans will understand that if you like the $1,400 stimulus checks, aid for schools to reopen, funds for vaccine distribution and the other parts of the relief bill, you should thank a Democrat — because every Republican in Congress voted no.