Lately Democrats and other progressive commentators such as Rachel Maddow have been trying to make political hay:

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine is holding a conference call today with reporters to counter GOP criticism of the stimulus bill as the one-year anniversary of the legislation approaches. Democrats are steamed that Republicans, who almost unanimously opposed the bill, have also touted money for projects in their home states. “All but three Republicans in Congress voted against the ARRA, but scores of them have attended ribbon cuttings, taken credit for projects in press releases or even noted the job creating potential of projects in their districts and states in letters to federal agencies seeking funds from the Recovery Act,” said the DNC in a statement.

In the post below, our own host terms it a “perfect illustration”, and berates these “brazen”, “shameless… lying… hypocrites.”

If only.

I realize it makes a great story if you don’t stop to think about it, so I apologize for ruining the narrative, but as Greg Mankiw explains:

It seems perfectly reasonable to believe (1) that increasing government spending is not the best way to promote economic growth in a depressed economy, and (2) that if the government is going to spend gobs of money, those on whom it is spent will benefit. In this case, the right thing for a congressman to do is to oppose the spending plans, but once the spending is inevitable, to try to ensure that the constituents he represents get their share. So what exactly is the problem?

Let me offer an analogy. Many Democratic congressmen opposed the Bush tax cuts. That was based, I presume, on their honest assessment of the policy. But once these tax cuts were passed, I bet these congressmen paid lower taxes. I bet they did not offer to hand the Treasury the extra taxes they would have owed at the previous tax rates. Would it make sense for the GOP to suggest that these Democrats were disingenuous or hypocritical? I don’t think so. Many times, we as individuals benefit from policies we opposed. There is nothing wrong about that.

Ah well. There’s reality—and then there’s politics.


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