The Hightower Report

Stimulus Naysayers Cash In; and Arms Wide Open

Stimulus Naysayers Cash In

One thing Republican congressional leaders are clear on is that they don't want no stinking government health care plan. Well ... except, of course, for the government-paid health plan that they get. But, they say, that's different, because ... well, uh ... never mind. Let's talk about something else.

One thing the GOP talked a lot about last spring was the evil, socialistic, Obamanistic, big-government stimulus bill intended to pump some $800 billion into economic recovery programs all across America. Too much money, they wailed! Won't work! We're against it! Sure enough, every Republican House member and all but three of the party's senators voted no, uh-uh, no way, nyet.

But the bill passed anyway, and now that the money is moving out to local projects, guess who's jumped out front to claim credit for bringing home the bacon? Right – those anti-spending Republican idealists.

For example, in August, GOP Senate leader Mitch McConnell loudly opposed stimulus spending. Yet, on the very same day of his denunciation, Mitch was just as loudly taking credit for jobs created by an Army construction project in his state – funded by the stimulus package.

Also, such Republican governors as Louisiana's Bobby Jindal noisily objected to the stimulus spending program. He blasted the bill as a "stimulus that has not stimulated." Cute line. But the next day, Bobby traveled to Vernon Parish for a photo-op in which he delivered a jumbo federal check to a local project – funded by the stimulus bill. Likewise, Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina has had a miraculous conversion to stimulus spending. Setting principle aside, he now declares that his opposition to the bill "doesn't preclude taking the money."

Watch what these anti-government ideologues do – not what they say.

Arms Wide Open

The good news is that America is No. 1! Once again, the U.S. of A is at the top of the heap, not only besting every other nation on the globe, but beating out all other nations combined. Go USA!

The bad news is that this spectacular achievement is in the sales of military weaponry. Yes, your country and mine is the top arms supplier to the world. In 2008, America's corporate weapons-makers peddled nearly $38 billion worth of everything from attack helicopters to small arms. This was $13 billion more than the previous year, and it totaled more than two-thirds of all sales in last year's global arms bazaar. Our closest "competitor" was not Russia, not China, not Iran – but, of all places, Italy, which tallied $3.7 billion in sales.

In its annual report on the arms market, the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service noted that last year's surge in U.S. sales was "extraordinary," given the fact that a global recession restricted the ability of many countries to lavish such funds on war toys. Apparently, however, our arms dealers did a bang-up job of beating the bushes to find buyers. Especially fruitful were sales efforts in developing nations, which the report calls "the primary focus of foreign arms sales activity by weapons suppliers."

Indeed, such developing countries as Morocco, India, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates accounted for almost $30 billion of our overall sales, giving U.S. suppliers 70% of this lucrative market. Russia was second, earning $3.3 billion for helping arm the developing world.

What a fine example of a national achievement this sets for all the boys and girls of our land. No doubt they'll bust with pride – unless, of course, they end up having to battle some of the governments we're now arming.

For more information on Jim Hightower's work – and to subscribe to his award-winning monthly newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown – visit www.jimhightower.com. You can hear his radio commentaries on KOOP Radio, 91.7FM, weekdays at 10:58am and 12:58pm.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

stimulus money, Mitch McConnell, Bobby Jindal, Mark Sanford, weapons

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