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March 21, 2014 at 11:35 AM

Doc Hastings’ district got top money from stimulus he opposed

U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings, Republican of Pasco, not Spokane

U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings, Republican of Pasco, not Spokane

UPDATED AT 1:12  P.M. WITH COMMENT FROM HASTINGS’ SPOKESMAN:

WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings’ Central Washington district received the most federal money from the 2009 stimulus act, snagging more than 500 times as much per resident than the bottom-ranked district of former Congressman Anthony Weiner of New York.

That’s the conclusion by three economists released Thursday by The Brookings Institution who tracked how $308 billion from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was dispersed around the nation.

But the paper says Hastings’ 4th District includes Spokane. Spokane is actually represented by Hastings’ fellow Republican, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers.

Ethan Kaplan, a economist at the University of Maryland and one of the paper’s three authors, said Friday the mistake was only a descriptive error and did not alter the study’s findings.

The authors analyzed whether lawmakers steered stimulus dollars to their districts, either to benefit their re-elections prospects or to help their party. They found no such evidence.

Instead, they found the stimulus money was largely doled out with little correlation to members’ clout, seniority or even their districts’ unemployment rates.  The authors attributed this to the fact that much of the money — part of $787 billion appropriated by Congress in an attempt to juice a collapsed economy — was distributed to states by formula or through competition.

Some of the largest individual awards went to to clean up the Hanford radioactive-waste site in Richland, in Hastings’ district. The spending at Hanford boosted the infusion of stimulus money in his district to $3,750 per person, the highest of 334 congressional districts studied. Weiner’s district got the least, $7 per person.

The authors eliminated 101 congressional districts that included any part of a state capital because much of the money going to state governments were later redistributed throughout the states. Neal Kirby, a spokesman for Hastings, noted Democrat Doris Matsui’s district in California had the highest overall total among 435 districts, with $21,875 per capita.

Hastings voted against the recovery act, as did all 175 other Republican in the House. Only three Republicans voted for it in the Senate.

In Washington, some of the stimulus money paid for highway construction and repairs and financed projects aimed at increasing energy efficiency, including home renovations that reduced utility costs — projects for which lawmakers such as Sen.  Patty Murray and then-Rep. Jay Inslee claimed part of the credit.

Some two-thirds of the total stimulus investment — which the paper estimated eventually will total $840 billion over 10 years — went to tax breaks and entitlement programs, including extended unemployment benefits and “cash for clunkers” auto rebates.

Comments | More in Congress | Topics: Brookings Institution, Doc Hastings, stimulus


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