Barack Obama and his administration don’t mind playing hardball on the stimulus package, as Jake Tapper reports. Yesterday, Senator Jon Kyl suggested that not only should Congress refuse to consider a second stimulus package, they should bring the current Porkulus to a halt before it wastes even more money. Rather than make a reasoned argument for their stimulus package, however, the White House threatened to choke Arizona’s federal funds in retaliation:
On This Week with George Stephanopoulos on Sunday, Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., said of the $787 billion stimulus package, “the reality is it hasn’t helped yet. Only about 6.8 percent of the money has actually been spent. What I proposed is, after you complete the contracts that are already committed, the things that are in the pipeline, stop it.”
A day later, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer received letters from Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar all pointing out the billions headed to Arizona.
Kyl “publicly questioned whether the stimulus is working and stated that he wants to cancel projects that aren’t presently underway,” LaHood wrote to Brewer, a Republican. “I believe the stimulus has been very effective in creating job opportunities throughout the country. However, if you prefer to forfeit the money we are making available to your state, as Senator Kyl suggests, please let me know.”
Talk about an empty threat! The Obama administration encouraged South Carolina’s legislature to take Governor Mark Sanford to court to force him to accept Porkulus funds. Now they want to posture with Arizonans that criticism of their fiscal policies will result in punitive action against Arizona alone. I guess the Democrats don’t plan to compete for Arizona’s electoral votes in 2012.
Their logic could use some assistance as well. LaHood notes that of the $48 billion in infrastructure spending in the bill, Arizona will eventually get $520 million. First, a quick calculation shows that as somewhat less than 1/50th (or 1/57th) of the funds, meaning Arizonans won’t get the same share as other states. Also, I’m not sure if anyone at the White House realizes this quite yet, but all of that money comes from Arizona in the first place — and taxpayers all over the nation. They’re not promising some vast new wealth; they’re promising to return our money back to ourselves, with a hefty chunk of it removed to pay for the bureaucrats that manage it.
This does demonstrate quite nicely the problem with an overreaching federal government, and especially an overreaching executive branch. It sucks money out of the states, and then it plays favorites on returning some percentage to them. That’s not new to the Obama administration, but they seem pretty cavalier about letting their extortion show.