The GOP loves the federal spending it hates

Whatever else you think about tea party-infused Republican leaders in Congress, at least they're consistent in their opposition to big government intrusion in the economy, right?

Whatever else you think about tea party-infused Republican leaders in Congress, at least they’re consistent in their opposition to big government intrusion in the economy, right?

Absolutely! Unless you count intrusions of taxpayer funds into corporate projects back in their districts.

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For example, President Obama’s effort to accelerate federal-backed loans to job-creating, green-energy projects has been a target of howling Republican ridicule. In particular, they’re now assailing a 2009 loan guarantee to the failed solar-panel maker, Solyndra, holding it up as proof that green energy programs are a waste, driven by raw politics. GOP Senate leader Mitch McConnell recently sputtered in rage that “The White House fast-tracked a half-billion dollar loan to a politically-connected energy firm.”

Fair enough – the Solyndra deal does stink. However, Mitch’s tirade would’ve had a lot more moral punch if it was not for Zap Motors. In 2009, even as the Kentucky senator was loudly deriding Obama’s original stimulus program, he was quietly urging Obama’s energy secretary to give a quarter-billion-dollar loan guarantee to Zap for a clean energy plant it wanted to build in McConnell’s state.

Never mind that Zap Motors had its own shaky financial record, it was (as McConnell now says of Solyndra) “a politically-connected energy firm.” Connected directly to him, that is. The senator’s robust enthusiasm for Zap came after the corporation hired a lobbyist with close ties to Mitch, having been a frequent financial backer of the senator’s campaigns.

The moral of this Republican morality tale is it’s okay to hate government spending, except when you love it. Decry federal largesse loudly, but when it serves your own political needs, hug it quietly… but tightly.

Republicans Sought Clean-Energy Money For Home States,” The New York Times, September 201, 2011.

“Furor Over Loans to Failed Solar Firm,” The New York Times, September 15, 2011.

“Battling the bastards is about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on.”

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