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Arlen Specter Cares About Financial Responsibility

Cross-posted at Brendan Calling

Just days after taking office vowing to end the political era of "petty grievances," President Obama ran into mounting GOP opposition yesterday to an economic stimulus plan that he had hoped would receive broad bipartisan support….

Republicans have a long list of grievances.

Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.), who gave Vice President Biden a 17-page list of spending requests, said he opposes the proposed increase in funding for Pell Grants for college students because it would do little to spur short-term economic growth. House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (Ohio) said the plan lacks enough "fast-acting tax relief," such as a temporary halt to payroll taxes and more relief for businesses. Sen. John Thune (S.D.) said the nearly $1 trillion price tag would add too much to a federal deficit that is already predicted to top $1.2 trillion for 2009.

Washington Post, "Stimulus Plan Meets More GOP Resistance", 1/23/09

In 2003, Arlen Specter voted in favor of the Iraq War, which he (like the rest of the Republican party) thought would be over in 6 months, and which he thought would be paid for by Iraq’s oil revenues:

The Bush Administration was wrong about the benefits of the war and it was wrong about the costs of the war. The president and his advisers expected a quick, inexpensive conflict. Instead, we have a war that is costing more than anyone could have imagined.

The cost of direct US military operations – not even including long-term costs such as taking care of wounded veterans – already exceeds the cost of the 12-year war in Vietnam and is more than double the cost of the Korean War.

And, even in the best case scenario, these costs are projected to be almost ten times the cost of the first Gulf War, almost a third more than the cost of the Vietnam War, and twice that of the First World War. The only war in our history which cost more was the Second World War, when 16.3 million U.S. troops fought in a campaign lasting four years, at a total cost (in 2007 dollars, after adjusting for inflation) of about $5 trillion (that’s $5 million million, or £2.5 million million). With virtually the entire armed forces committed to fighting the Germans and Japanese, the cost per troop (in today’s dollars) was less than $100,000 in 2007 dollars. By contrast, the Iraq war is costing upward of $400,000 per troop.

Where was his sense of financial responsibility then?

Arlen Specter voted (some say reluctantly) on the 2001 Bush tax cuts, which went to the wealthiest Americans. In 2003, he supported further tax cuts for those who needed them least. Here’s National Review, complaining:

While he eventually got on board with the 2001 cuts, he did everything in his power to shrink them — and he had some success. Bush started with a package to reduce Americans’ tax burden by $1.6 trillion over the next ten years. What we got was $1.3 trillion.

Specter was one of five Republicans to vote for a class-warfare amendment almost wiping out the tax cuts at the top of the scale and expanding the breaks at the bottom. He was one of six Republicans who voted to preserve the death tax. On a handful of other liberal amendments, he joined his big-tax brethren.

Come 2003, his record indicates he feels the tax cuts he tried to pare down two years earlier were too small. He is fully supportive of the 2003 tax-cut package and resisted the push to limit the "growth" package to $350 billion over ten years.

Where was Arlen’s sense of financial reponsibility then?

Late in 2008, Arlen voted in favor of bailout number one, aka a no-strings-attached blank check to Wall Street. Predictably, the bailout didn’t work because the banks kept all the money.

Concerns about the economy and the recent $700 billion government bailout were at the forefront of a town meeting with U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., Tuesday in Mifflintown.

Specter began the meeting by explaining why he voted in favor of the Wall Street bailout, while acknowledging that "the American people are, frankly, madder than h–" over its approval.

"I was concerned that if we turned it down, it would have a more drastic effect on the economy," Specter said during the meeting at the Central Juniata Emergency Medical Services Building.

Where was Arlen’s sense of financial responsibility then?

Arlen voted against investigating contracts awarded in Iraq, despite significant evidence that KBR and halliburton were ripping off the US government. Where was his sense of financial responsibility then?

I can’t even begin to count the number of times Arlen Specter voted in favor of blank checks for Iraq. It’s gotta be at least three times, maybe more. The real question of course is "where was Arlen Specter’s sense of financial responsibility then"?

Anyone want to hazard a guess?

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