Sunday, March 01, 2009

Republican Spending Hypocrisy Headlines the Press

One of the reasons I never got into RSS feeders was that I like to go to a news site and see exactly how a story is featured on the page. Is it a bold headline, with picture and opening paragraph? Is it a one-sentence link that is easily ignored? It does make a difference on perception of importance and click-through for the casual reader, I'm sure. Part of watching the media is seeing how a story is presented for impact, so I click around quite a bit throughout the day.

This morning, on mlive's GR Press site, the headline read, "Congressmen Peter Hoekstra, Vernon Ehlers vote against spending bill with earmarks for their causes". Oh my. Right at the top of the page. How wonderful that the "traditional media" is making a point about Republicans who are hypocritical about their spending practices. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for the earmarks that Twitter Pete and Vern have brought home to West Michigan, but I'm really proud of the Press for pointing out that they voted against jobs and investment for our area.

I waited to write this diary because I wanted to see the physical copy of the Press - and sure enough, it's the headline of the print edition as well. They try to excuse them, in a way, with the title "Locals take a 'light' bite of pork", but the other headline I mentioned is right below that - and here are the opening paragraphs of the story.

Republican BBQ for breakfast. It's delicious.

Warning about massive impending debt, West Michigan congressmen voted no last week on a $410 billion appropriations bill that hikes spending 8 percent over last year.

"Washington needs to stop spending money that it doesn't have," fumed U.S. Rep. Peter Hoekstra, R-Holland.

But tucked into a bill larded with more than 8,500 earmarks is more than $300,000 for apple fire blight — with U.S. Rep. Vernon Ehlers' and Hoekstra's names attached — as well as $1.4 million for an offshore wind project requested by Hoekstra.

Ehlers also voted no on the bill, calling it irresponsible in a time of crisis.

Thanks to Ehlers, the measure contains $3.8 million to move the Grand Rapids Amtrak station.

Go read the whole thing to watch Vern and Pete defend themselves. They dance very well. One question that is missing from the story, that someone needs to ask our Republican Congresscritters: If these projects are so important to our area, why in the world would you vote against them? We all know the answer to that: They want to have their pork and eat it, too, and then use it against the Democrats at election time. Just like our Michigan legiscritters, who went and spent all that tax money from '07, and then cried in campaign commercials about the Democrats "raising taxes". It didn’t work in ’08, and with stories like these, it won’t work in ’10, either.

Baby steps for the media. Maybe they will get them on record on the "why" question next time. They also might like to start pointing out that this is standard Republican practice. It didn't take me long to find this bit from the July '07 vote on the 2008 Transportation-Housing bill. (DNews July 26, 2007)

The Republicans split: Candice Miller of Harrison Township, Fred Upton of St. Joseph, and Knollenberg voted for it; Dave Camp of Midland, Vern Ehlers of Grand Rapids, Pete Hoekstra of Holland, Thad McCotter of Livonia, Mike Rogers of Brighton and Tim Walberg of Tipton voted against it.

All 15 Michigan House members had earmarks for projects in their districts, meaning six lawmakers voted against the overall bill that would have sent money home.

That's just one. I'm sure there are plenty more out there just like it. They all do it, and we know it, but only some will take responsibility for their actions, and the majority of those people are Democrats. The bill that Pete and Vern voted against? It contained 40% Republican earmarks – and only 16 "moderate" Republicans voted for it. The rest were a bunch of hypocrites.

The title on that story? "GOP hates earmarks, except the ones its members sponsor".

Pass the sauce, please.