by T.A. DeFeo
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp regularly blames Washington policies for causing inflation and hurting Georgians, but he doesn’t hesitate to announce grants — such as those for rural broadband projects — that rely on federal tax dollars.
“While failed policies coming out of Washington, D.C. are pushing us closer to a recession and forcing hardworking Georgians to endure sky-high inflation, we on the state level are doing what we can to return money back where it belongs – in taxpayers’ hands,” Kemp said in a statement earlier this month in announcing officials had issued the first round of “surplus tax refund checks” to Georgia taxpayers.
Is he just playing politics with federal tax dollars?
“Taking Washington’s money while decrying its profligate spending is hardly something that’s unique to Governor Kemp, in fact it is a regular feature of the modern GOP,” Nicholas Creel, assistant professor of business law at Georgia College and State University, told The Center Square via email. “This is because red states in general are notorious for taking in more federal money than they pay out. As such, there is very little chance that a Republican governor would face any blowback from within the GOP by acting this way.
“Moreover, Democrats are by predisposition reluctant to call Republicans out on this given that redistribution is part and parcel of the Democratic Party’s platform,” Creel added.
Kemp is hardly the first — or only — politician to decry federal policies while trumpeting initiatives funded by federal legislation.
“What Governor Kemp is doing has been going on since the creation of the country — take Washington’s money while criticizing Washington itself,” Richard Gordon, president of Gordon Strategic Advisors, told The Center Square via email. “Governor Kemp is far from alone in this. It is a dance that governors and other elected officials do every day. What is interesting is when they are standing next to the President at an announcement and then slamming him later.”
A Kemp spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.
Creel argues that “the Republican party is fiscally conservative in name only,” so the risk of acting “hypocritically,” as he says, is minimal.
“Over the last few decades, every time Republicans have been in power at the federal level the deficit has ballooned massively,” Creel said. “The party is far more attached to its social conservatism and cultural grievances, giving party leaders plenty of leeway to never follow through on fiscally conservative policy: So, there really isn’t much of a risk here for a Republican to act hypocritically.”
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