For some Republican governors, putting politics first over the needs of their constituents is their opening salvo for the 2012 Presidential race.
The stimulus has shaped up to be a Republican litmus test of sorts. If you're a real Republican, you're against it -- simple as that. In other words, if you want to run in -- and win -- a primary in 2010 (maybe 2012), you'd better oppose it.
The deal-breaker for these "real Republicans"? Extending or increasing unemployment benefits.
Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana announced Friday that he would reject a portion of expanded unemployment benefits that would eventually require the state to raise taxes on businesses.Mr. Jindal said he would reject $98.4 million in federal incentives to expand unemployment coverage, or 2.5 percent of the $3.8 billion that Louisiana stands to receive in all, on the grounds that it would force a change to state law to cover more unemployed people...........
Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi has also focused on the unemployment provisions, saying that of $54 million offered to his state under the bill, only $4 million would be available unless Mississippi changed its law to expand eligibility to part-time workers.........
Under the incentive program that Mr. Jindal turned down for Louisiana, Mississippi would get up to $56 million more for expanding coverage by selecting from a menu of options that includes giving benefits to some part-time workers. The $56 million would pay for the expanded benefits for five years......
Some governors objected even to the no-strings-attached $25 a week increase in unemployment benefits, saying it would raise expectations that would be difficult to manage when the federal dollars dry up.
In South Carolina, Republican Governor, Mark Sanford, doesn't flinch at rejecting the lifeline that would help his unemployed constituents.
Would a governor in a state with the third-highest unemployment rate in the nation really say no to President Obama's stimulus money?
Some observers suspect that governor, who is regularly mentioned as a presidential contender in 2012, is just grandstanding. It's hard for them to imagine a lawmaker leaving millions of dollars on the table in a state with a 9.5% unemployment rate -- one that has cut hundreds of millions from its budget in recent months, and will cut millions more in the next fiscal year.For some out-of-work South Carolinians, even the suggestion of rejecting bailout money fills them with outrage. William Williams, 38, a laid-off telecommunications worker, had a message for Sanford as he searched futilely through a computerized job bank in Marion County, a struggling industrial area where unemployment has reached 19%."Stop playing politics with my life," Williams said, looking at his unemployed brother James. "If you ain't going to help your people . . . ""Then get on out the way," James said.
Dylan and Ethan Ris over at AOL's Political Machine call this for what it is:
As you look back upon the economic developments of the past 8 months or so, what do you see? Is it rampant unemployment, home foreclosures, Wall Street greed, and hardworking people betrayed by government indifference and/or incompetence?If so, then you are obviously not a Republican governor. Because a whole handful of them prefer to see our financial crisis as a stage for a massive political stunt.......Sorry homeowners, schoolchildren, commuters and laid-off Americans. Although Rick Perry (R-TX), Mark Sanford (R-SC) and Sarah Palin (R-Russian Air Space) will remember to care about you come election season... well that's over a year away! Odd-numbered years mean political posturing season, and these folks will be damned if they let unemployment and poverty get in the way!Ironically, the governors adopted this horrible idea at the suggestion of a Democrat. Paul Begala, a left-wing strategist and commentator, has already personally challenged South Carolina's Sanford to reject the money... and against the interest of his constituents, his own moral conscience and sanity in general, Sanford and his ilk are strongly considering such action!Since the governors took the bait so easily the first time, we encourage Begala to now see how far he can go. For instance...* He could tell Mark Sanford that if he really wants to reject President Obama's evil stimulus package, he could increase South Carolina's unemployment rate to 9.5% while maintaining its illiteracy rate at 15%.* Or he could tell Rick Perry to increase Texas's uninsured rate to 24%, combined with some of the highest poverty in the country.*Or he could tell the ubiquitous Palin to raise Alaska's high school dropout rate and STD rate to the highest nationwide.Because you don't need a pinko socialist stimulus package for any of that stuff, now do you? Suck it, Barry! See you in 2012!