Take the money, or else

I took part today in an interview that will be broadcast at 7 a.m. Sunday on National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition. It’s the third such interview I’ve done with NPR, along with Kevin Riley, editor of the Dayton (Ohio) Daily News.

NPR has been good enough to gauge public opinion, as I see it, in Middle America on a whole range of issues. Riley’s constituents are quite different from ours here: Dayton is mostly Democratic in a swing state; Amarillo is mostly Republican in a heavily Republican state.

But the Q&A turned to President Obama’s stimulus package and, specifically, what do people here think of it. I said that our folks here think little of just about anything the president does, given that the Panhandle voted 80 percent for John McCain in the 2008 general election. Obama had little political cache here when he took office a year ago.

But despite our region’s distate and distrust of the Democratic administration, it’s instructive to note that we’ve been quite willing to take the money offered in the stimulus package. We’ve built roads and highways with it; we’re going to build a bridge in east Amarillo; our Legislature in 2009 used stimulus money to balance the state budget.

So, which is it? Do we like the program or don’t we?

It kind of reminds me of the saying about pork barrel spending: One man’s pork is another man’s enlightened self-interest. As long as the money comes here, why we’re just fine with it.

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