From The Washington Post:
A Republican proposal to halt spending on federal stimulus projects has prompted a partisan dustup this week in Arizona, where defeated GOP presidential candidate John McCain has waded into the fight with his old Democratic rival, Barack Obama.
The conflict began after Arizona’s junior senator, Republican Jon Kyl, who has called President Obama’s economic recovery plan ineffective, wrote on his Senate website last week that the government should “cancel the rest of the stimulus spending.” Kyl repeated the suggestion during a talk show appearance Sunday.
And they keep on electing these people?
The Obama administration responded Monday with letters from four Cabinet secretaries to the state’s GOP governor, Jan Brewer, outlining the transportation, housing, education and other projects that would be canceled in Arizona if stimulus spending came to a halt.
“If you prefer to forfeit the money we are making available to your state, please let us know,” wrote Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, a fellow Republican and former House member.
The letters prompted howls from Kyl and other Republicans in Arizona, who accused the Obama administration of threatening and bullying the state. “I strongly support the comments of Senator Kyl and call on the administration to retract its threat against the citizens of Arizona,” McCain said in a statement.
[...] many Republicans who voted against the package have also sought to take credit for projects in their own states, and the White House has become increasingly aggressive in pressing its case.
Letters to Arizona’s governor were sent by LaHood, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan. The letters detailed more than $1 billion in Arizona projects that they said would be put at risk if stimulus funding was stopped.
After the letters were released, Kyl accused the administration of “coordinated political attacks with the Democratic National Committee and politicization of departments of government by using cabinet secretaries to issue thinly veiled threats.”
From The Arizona Daily Star:
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, one of two Republicans in Obama’s Cabinet, made no attempt to conceal his needling.
Kyl “publicly questioned whether the stimulus is working and stated that he wants to cancel projects that aren’t presently under way,” LaHood told Brewer. “If you prefer to forfeit the money we are making available to your state, as Senator Kyl suggests, please let me know.”
A Brewer spokesman said no such request is forthcoming.
“The governor is hopeful that these federal Cabinet officials are not threatening to deny Arizona citizens the portion of federal stimulus funds to which they are entitled,” said press aide Paul Senseman. “She believes that would be a tremendous mistake by the administration.”
Ummm, no, it wasn’t Cabinet officials who wanted to turn off the tap, it was your senator, Jon Kyl!
Tucson Mayor Bob Walkup, a Republican, said the Tucson region is waiting on $114 million for road repairs.
“That is money that we will not have to spend out of the city budget,” he said. “I think everybody in Tucson would appreciate $114 million in road resurfacing.”
Walkup stopped short of criticizing Kyl, however.
“He’s seeing it from a broader standpoint. All I can do is speak from the standpoint of the mayor of Tucson,” the mayor said.
Glenn Hamer, president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry, was a bit more strident in a statement titled “Don’t Bully Arizona,” calling on Obama to “rebuke” his secretaries.
“It is one thing to joust with Sen. Kyl over his position, but it is an entirely different matter for Cabinet secretaries to write letters to the chief executive of a state and threaten funding if support isn’t provided,” Hamer said.
Once again, it wasn’t Cabinet officials who wanted to turn off the tap, it was your senator, Jon Kyl! That hot Arizona sun must make your balls and your brains shrink.
State House Assistant Minority Leader Kyrsten Sinema, D-Phoenix, said lawmakers are already relying on billions in stimulus dollars to balance the state budget, and criticism of the program shows Kyl and McCain to be out of touch with the state.
“I’m just wondering if they really live in Arizona,” Sinema said, pointing out that without the stimulus the state would have to make $832 million in cuts to all levels of education.
“Arizona can’t handle that,” she said.