GOP Governors Press Congress To Pass Stimulus Bill

Most Republican governors have broken with their GOP colleagues in Congress and are pushing for passage of President Barack Obama's economic aid plan that would send billions to states for education, public works and health care.

Their state treasuries drained by the financial crisis, governors would welcome the money from Capitol Hill, where GOP lawmakers are more skeptical of Obama's spending priorities.

The 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, planned to meet in Washington this weekend with Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and other senators to press for her state's share of the package.

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist worked the phones last week with members of his state's congressional delegation, including House Republicans. Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas, the Republican vice chairman of the National Governors Association, planned to be in Washington on Monday to urge the Senate to approve the plan.

"As the executive of a state experiencing budget challenges, Gov. Douglas has a different perspective on the situation than congressional Republicans," said Douglas' deputy chief of staff, Dennise Casey.

Not a single Republican voted with the majority last week when the House approved Obama's $819 billion combination of tax cuts and new spending. The president's goal is to create or preserve 3 million to 4 million jobs.

Republicans led by House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio complained that the plan is laden with pet projects and will not yield the jobs or stimulate the economy in the way Obama has promised.

The measure faces GOP opposition in the Senate, where it will be up for a vote in the week ahead.

But states are coping with severe budget shortfalls and mounting costs for Medicaid, the health insurance program for the poor. So governors, including most Republicans, are counting on the spending to help keep their states afloat.

This past week the bipartisan National Governors Association called on Congress to quickly pass the plan.

"States are facing fiscal conditions not seen since the Great Depression — anticipated budget shortfalls are expected in excess of $200 billion," the NGA statement said. "Governors ... support several key elements of the bill critical to states-increased federal support for Medicaid and K-12 and higher education; investment in the nation's infrastructure; and tax provisions to spur investment."

Clyde Frazier, a professor of political science at Meredith College in North Carolina, said it wasn't politically inconsistent for Republican governors and members of Congress to part ways on the stimulus plan.

"For governors, it's free money — they get the benefits and they don't have to pay the costs of raising the revenues," Frazier said. "Senators and representatives get only some credit for the expenditures, and they have to pay the bill."

That's not to say Republican governors are entirely enthusiastic about the plan. Some worry about the debt incurred through so much federal borrowing.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a former member of the House, said he would accept the stimulus money but would have voted against the bill if he were still in Congress. Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, said he wasn't sure whether he would accept the approximately $3 billion his state would be in line for.

"Yes, we need some help and we appreciate the help," Barbour said in an interview. "But I don't know about the details and the strings attached to tell you if I'll take all of it or not."

The most outspoken critic has been South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, who has warned for months of a steep spike in inflation and a severely weakened dollar if Obama's plan passed. His state is on track to receive $2.1 billion of the stimulus money; Sanford has not yet said whether he would accept it.

"It's incumbent on me as one of the nation's governors to speak out against what I believe is ultimately incredibly harmful to the economy, to taxpayers and to the worth of the U.S. dollar," Sanford said in an interview. "This plan is a huge mistake and is going to prolong and deepen this recession."

Sanford outlined his concerns in December when the then-president-elect met with governors in Philadelphia to discuss the stimulus proposal. Sanford said he had heard nothing from the White House since then.

Associates say Sanford, who recently was elected chairman of the Republican Governors Association, has been disappointed in how few of his GOP colleagues have joined him in speaking out against the size and scope of Obama's plan.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who is widely viewed as a potential presidential contender in 2012, said governors have little choice but to accept the relief being offered. "States have to balance their budgets," he said. "So if we're going to go down this path, we are entitled to ask for our share of the money."

But Pawlenty expressed reservations about the cost of the plan and its impact on the federal deficit, which has already grown to over $1 trillion.

"I'm quite concerned about the federal government spending money it doesn't have," Pawlenty said. "We're on an unsustainable path of deficit spending and borrowing."

You must be logged in to post comments.

Password (case sensitive):
Remember Me:

Read Comments

Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by hope Location: NC on Feb 1, 2009 at 09:08 PM
    I agree with the comments regarding our once great, now fallen empire... When we fall it will not matter what the "dumbcrats", or "repelicans" did. Divided we will fall.
  • by Honorable Bloggie Location: NC on Feb 1, 2009 at 08:31 PM
    Straight is the gate and narrow is the way that leads to Heaven. Wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to Hell. If their numbers are not that great, can they truly be the culprits? Well, according to the Word of God, something is wrong with that picture. Indeed the very people who will cause this nation to fall are unaware of it. It's not because they are doing everything right, but it's because they are too busy blaming the other folks. That's the trick of the enemy. Confuse them and make them fight against each other, then they will never see what is coming to them. It reminds me of the scripture which states, "You hypocrite! First remove the beam from your own eye, and then you will see clearly enough to remove the speck from your brother's eye." The whole country is full of hypocrites. That's the issue and God will judge justly. Religious or atheist, intelligent or dumb, diligent or lazy, millionaire or bum, they've all turned to the sinful ways of the ungodly.
  • by Cactus Location: Strabane on Feb 1, 2009 at 05:21 PM
    Congress is a waste, the UN is a waste, paying taxes is a waste, so like our fore fathers we may just have to revolt, by not paying taxes. We need to start working on term limits for congress and do away with thesE life time congressional seats. It really hurts me that my 8 and 9 year old grand kids will be paying for this mess we are in, not to mention that their kids will also have to pay. We need to stop the stupidy in our government. If this recession was caused by educated people, please, we need to elect the uneducated. Elect farmers, fisherman, construction workers, taxie drivers etc, you get the picture. ENOUGH,ENOUGH......
  • by VBush Location: MHCY on Feb 1, 2009 at 03:31 PM
    To Honorable Bloggie; You are exactly right about God's might, and since we have chosen to snub our Lord and maker at every possible opportunity (the progressive liberal left) and our so called conservative right, have failed miserably to mount any real defense against it, we will go the way of Rome. God has no reason to see that we remain all powerful on this planet because we have turned against him. We have removed him from almost every aspect of our lives as a nation, with the rest yet to come. Either conservatives will eventually rise up and take our country back or we will disappear into the history books. Much like Rome there will be books written with titles like: "The rise and fall of the United States of America". OR "How A Mighty Nation Destroyed Itself From Within". The shame of it all is that the very people and organizations that are responsible refuse to see it. Worse yet, their numbers are not that great, they have simply monopolized college campuses, the media, etc.
  • by Honorable Bloggie Location: NC on Feb 1, 2009 at 02:32 PM
    In the past, the welfare system did cause a lot of people to acquire a dependent attitude; however, there has recently been a reconstruction of the program to encourage those receiving benefits to set goals for themselves and to actively seek employment. However, it's always rise to remember that every great empire has fallen at some time in history. That's just something we should all be mindful of. Perhaps there is a purpose. So that no one will boast before the father. It's not man's might, but God's might that allows nations to flourish.
  • by Jonathan Location: Plymouth on Feb 1, 2009 at 01:11 PM
    VBush, Ron the exact same way I see this. Great post. If this kind of thing keeps occuring I see the end of the U.S. very soon.
  • by MrT Location: LaNC on Feb 1, 2009 at 01:00 PM
    When the countries economy goes completely down the drain, we can blame the Dumbocrats.They have already been in charge in Congress for 2 years, so its at least as much thier fault as it is the Republicans fault.Maybe America will be so disgusted with Obama and company they will run them out of DC on a rail.
  • by Mike on Feb 1, 2009 at 12:48 PM
    Tks for not posting my comment WITN
  • by VBush Location: MHCY on Feb 1, 2009 at 10:36 AM
    Ron; Good post, excellent points. I would like to add that the reason the Democrats don't think the way we do is this: Their main reason is to create and maintain a constituency of the needy.(that is their base) Their legislation doesn't actually help them, it keeps them needy, thus maintaining their base.(They continue to believe the Dems are helping them) They are among the most ignorant among us,(there are multitudes) because they do not educate themselves with enough information to understand that the Democrats do not actually help them. There has been many a Democrat converted to Republican (or at least to a more conservative thought process) when they finally educate themselves and realize the difference. There are in fact enough of them, that if the Dems could get them all to the polls for every election, they would win forever. Groups like ACORN demonstrated this quite well. It is also why they support 'one stop voting' and why they want no verification standards to vote.
  • by Honorable Bloggie Location: NC on Feb 1, 2009 at 10:27 AM
    I know the solution. Let the states whose governors approve of the bill receive the stimulus money and let those who don't fend for themselves. Then, when their economy continues to fall to shambles, let the governor and the state's congresspeople explain. It sounds good to me! Thank God the governor of NC is a sensible Democrat!
  • Page:

275 E. Arlington Blvd. Greenville, NC 27858 252-439-7777
Copyright © 2002-2016 - Designed by Gray Digital Media - Powered by Clickability 38770072 -
Gray Television, Inc.