After criticizing Congress for passing a $26 billion aid package to state governments, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty has sent a formal request to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius for $236 million for Medicaid from the very same funding bill he blasted as a “reckless spending spree.” After pronouncing that “the federal government should not deficit spend to bail out states,” the governor and likely presidential candidate even offered clues that he won’t accept any new money from the federal government (unless that money was for abstinence-only programs).
Pawlenty decided to relent like other “principled” Republican governors before him such as Sarah Palin and Mark Sanford, who proudly disparage government programs and threaten to refuse the federal aid meant to protect the jobs of public employees and salvage state budgets—then agree to accepting stimulus dollars when it’s politically convenient. Similar to the Republican members of Congress who proudly vote against the stimulus and later publicly take credit for providing stimulus dollars in their districts, Pawlenty is attempting to both please the anti-government zealots in the GOP base while also benefiting from Democratic efforts to govern responsibly.
Pawlenty’s backpedaling on the stimulus coincides with the news that Michele Bachmann isn’t the only government spending-critic to receive farm subsidies from the federal government, as Indiana’s favorite Tea Party politician and congressional candidate Marlin Stutzman also obtains federal aid in the form of farm subsidies. Stutzman, who explicitly said that “it’s time to get rid of farm subsidies” in the name of free market orthodoxy, collected $179,370 from the federal government since 1995 for his farm.
For Republicans such as Pawlenty and Stutzman, it’s easy to denounce federal spending to further their political careers and agendas, but they still have no problem with benefiting from the same federal government programs they rail against.