Herger gets stimulated

Congressman slams the stimulus program, then goes for the bucks

One of the mantras House Republicans, including our own Rep. Wally Herger, have been repeating for months is that the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act—otherwise known as the federal stimulus program—is a waste of money and isn’t creating jobs. That’s what they say, anyway.

What they do is another matter. As the nonprofit Center for Public Integrity reported this week, they’ve been firing off letters to federal agencies trying to get their share of the loot. The list includes some of California’s most outspoken stimulus critics, hardliners like Reps. Tom McClintock and Kevin McCarthy—and Herger. All have filed letters backing various transportation and telecommunications projects, sometimes touting their ability to create jobs.

On Sept. 11, 2009, Herger wrote to Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood “strongly” endorsing the South Redding I-5 Widening Project. The project “is critical to maintaining mobility on Interstate 5, benefiting our regional, state, and national economy,” Herger writes.

He was so eager to score he resent the letter three days later.

Three months earlier, on June 17, Herger had sent out a press release titled “Herger Slams Runaway Federal Spending,” in which he’s quoted as saying, “We’ve see [sic] the federal government set a $2 trillion deficit by passing a stimulus bill that hasn’t helped our economy, a half-trillion spending bill, and spending billions on a bailout of the auto companies as the government has gotten into the car business. It is crystal clear that federal spending is out of control.”

I don’t blame Herger for going after the ARRA money. Fixing highways is good. It’s the hypocrisy I can’t stand. And that bit about the car bailout? I don’t know about you, but I’m glad President Obama saved the American auto industry and about a million jobs in the bargain. It was money well spent—and, besides, it’s all coming back to us, with interest.

Evil Twins Dept.: Proposition 23 is going down. The polls say so, and Tesoro and Valero, the big Texas-based oil companies that have been funding it, have stopped writing checks.

Now the polluters are betting on Proposition 26, which would require all fees to be approved by a two-thirds vote of the Legislature. This would enable the Republican minorities in the Legislature to block any fees charged to businesses to pay for cleaning up their messes and force taxpayers to foot the costs.

The California Chamber of Commerce has contributed $3.3 million to “Stop Hidden Taxes,” a group formed to back Prop. 26 (and defeat Prop. 25, the measure that would allow passage of a state budget by majority vote). Oil companies Chevron, ConocoPhillips and Occidental have given more than $3 million to the group, and Philip Morris has chipped in a half-million.

The adult-beverage industry is also a big player, having donated around $2 million. (Somewhere in there is $5,000 from Chico’s own Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.) What do you think the wine makers and brewers hope to gain from Prop. 26? That the costs associated with drunken driving are pushed off on taxpayers, perhaps?