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Terry Takes Two Sides on Stimulus

Six-term Republican Congressional candidate Lee Terry got a shining endorsement from Nebraska Senator Mike Johanns in his latest ad against Democrat Tom White.  Johanns repeated Terry’s assertion that Tom White is not suited for office because he “supported Nancy Pelosi’s $800 billion stimulus.”  

Lee Terry was quoted by the Omaha World Herald in February saying the $787 billion stimulus bill was “never intended to help the private sector.”  He also asserted, “That was the dirty little secret about this bill.  That’s why I voted against it.  It was intended to help the government grow.”

Terry’s reasoning is that because Tom White (who was not a member of the U.S. Congress and never cast a vote on the bill) has verbalized support for the stimulus, he (White) should not be elected as a Representative to Congress.  But Terry’s own record shows that he did more than vote against the stimulus.

STIMULATING HYPOCRISY

The Center for Public Integrity recently published an report called “Stimulating  Hypocrisy: Scores of Recovery Act Opponents Sought Money Out of Public View.”  This piece outlines the stories of Republicans who strongly criticized the bill but later wrote letters to the Departments of Transportation, Energy and Commerce attempting to secure stimulus funds for projects they supported.  They also have an interesting collection of PDFs of letters federal representatives sent to department heads.

On September 8, 2009, Nebraska Senator Mike Johanns wrote a letter to Steven Chu, the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy, expressing his support to use stimulus funds to establish the San Diego Center for Algae Biotechnology (SD-CAB).  Johanns writes, “This center would develop technology to decrease our dependence on imported oil, contribute to the establishment of a new sustainable energy industry and create new jobs.”

A day later, on September 9, Lee Terry wrote a very similarly worded letter to Secretary Chu. Terry went a step further and strongly supported SD-CAB. Terry asserted that “the SD-CAB will not only dramatically accelerate the goal of developing sustainable alternative transportation fuels from algae, but also will serve as an economic multiplier for new job creation — a core goal of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act” (aka, the stimulus).

Low and behold, the San Diego Center for Algae Biotechnology was awarded stimulus money, $9 million in fact.  Which begs the question:

Why would two politicians in Nebraska be so interested in algae research based out of San Diego?

Perhaps it’s because according to SD-CAB’s website, they have partnered with the University of Nebraska in Lincoln to aid in furthering algae biotechnology.  Could there be jobs in this field for Nebraskans?  In his letter, Terry quotes a study by the San Diego Association of Governments which “found that in the San Diego area alone, the existing economic footprint of the algae research enterprise translated into nearly 300 jobs, $16 million in payroll, and $33 million worth of related economic activity in 2009.”  He continues, “As this emerging industry will not be on site-specific natural resources, it can easily be established in Nebraska and other states and achieve similar economic effects.”

FAILURE 

Over four months before the San Diego Center for Algae Biotechnology received any stimulus money for a project that he “strongly supported,” Lee Terry declared the stimulus a failure. He called it a “‘government growth bill’ that provided little help to Nebraska businesses.”  Since then, Lee Terry has released ad after ad bashing Tom White for “supporting Nancy Pelosi’s $800 billion stimulus.”

Lee Terry wants us all to think that he’s strongly opposed the stimulus since day one and never wavered from that position.  He promotes the message that the stimulus was nothing more than failure, waste and “government growth.”  He wants us to believe that he knew some “dirty little secret” about the stimulus all along.

The truth is, he understands that organizations like SD-CAB serve as, in his own words, “an economic multiplier for new job creation” which is “a core goal” of the stimulus.  He also understands that the product of SD-CAB research can be “easily established in Nebraska and other states.”

So, who are we to believe?

Clearly, Lee Terry is trying with all his might to appeal to folks who would scream at the thought of millions of dollars of taxpayer money being used to research algae, while at the same time “strongly supporting” taxpayer money being used to research how gasoline can be made out of algae.  He’s thrown any common sense out the window and placed his bets on pessimism and tea party rage.  He is a hypocrite for attacking Tom White for “supporting Pelosi’s $800 billion stimulus,” and he’s not being truthful to his constituents.

Lee Terry is not fit for office.  I say it is time for fresh blood representing us in Washington D.C. It’s time for Lee Terry to finally retire from his career as a typical Washington Republican who says one thing and does another.

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