Many lawmakers who voted against the stimulus package were pinpointed last week for also writing letters seeking stimulus funds for projects back home. Tennessee’s delegation is part of the widespread double-talk.
The Washington-based ‘Center for Public Integrity’ compiled stacks of letters from lawmakers supporting funding for numerous projects. Tennessee letter writers include stimulus opponents Bob Corker, Lamar Alexander and Marsha Blackburn.
In one letter – Senator Alexander argues for a transportation project he says will increase job growth. In another letter – Representative Blackburn says funding to improve the US 64 corridor would benefit economic development in Tennessee.
“The very argument they make against the stimulus, which is, this is a bad law, doesn’t create jobs, it’s a waste of money, when they wrote a letter for their local districts saying please give me money, they would say this is going to create jobs, it’s good for the economy, good for the district.”
John Solomon with the Center for Public Integrity is hoping to collect even more letters. In a statement – Blackburn’s spokesman reiterates her opposition to the stimulus for being too large and expensive… while supporting certain programs within. Many other stimulus opponents who wrote letters say they’re simply doing their job by looking after constituents and sometimes wrote them at the request of local leaders.
Democratic leaders made sure the stimulus package didn’t include earmarks or special lawmaker requests. With its report, the ‘Center for Public Integrity’ argues the letters amount to a back door earmark. But letter writing is a long-established Washington practice. Defenders say they were simply expressing support and providing information about local needs
Other Tennessee lawmakers who wrote letters include Democrats Jim Cooper, Lincoln Davis and John Tanner. They all favored the stimulus.