Gov. Crist DID Flip Flop on Stimulus Support

On November 5 on CNN, Florida Governor Charlie Crist told Wolf Blitzer that he didn’t back the $787 billion Obama stimulus bill. Crist has since said that it isn’t a flip flop when he says he supported the stimulus “in concept” but didn’t support the specific bill.

In essence he’s trying to have it both ways. Claiming he wasn’t a supporter of the actual bill, but hedging by saying he felt something was necessary. It seems to be Crist’s way of straddling the line.

Unfortunately, the facts seem to belie Crist’s delicately balanced tightrope act because in February of 2009 Crist was one of 18 U.S. governors (along with the governor of the Virgin Islands) that signed a letter informing President Obama that they supported the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). (See pdf of letter here)

Despite being a signatory of the letter Crist is now saying he didn’t support the specific stimulus bill. After speaking at the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, Crist told the press, ““I think the question posed to me was, ‘Did you endorse this specific bill?’ And I said, ‘No, I didn’t,’ but the concept I thought, and still believe, was important, necessary and it helped Florida.”

The letter Crist signed, however, does not mention any ideas “in concept” but specifically supports the $787 billion stimulus bill itself. The letter begins quite clearly in support of the $787 billion stimulus bill saying, “We are writing to express our support for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).” What could be clearer?

How Crist can possibly claim that he never supported this specific bill when his name appears on this letter is anyone’s guess.

Text of Letter:

February 3, 2009

Dear Mr. President

We are writing to express our support for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), which passed last week in the House and is under consideration currently in the Senate. As stewards of the economies of our respective states and regions, we urge the Congress to reach prompt resolution of all outstanding differences and you to sign the bill when it reaches your desk.

Families and businesses across the nation are hurting. Credit markets have seized up, which is affecting both business activity and consumer spending. Unemployment is rising sharply. While we all believe in the importance of free markets, we believe that the markets today need stimulating.

We support then objectives of the ARRA and welcome the partnership it offers us as governors. The support for a temporary increase in the federal commitment for public education, health care (including cost control through initiatives such as health records IT), and for rebuilding our public infrastructure will create and preserve jobs today, and represents a sound investment in our long-term economic interests as well. We look forward to working with Congress and your Administration to advance an economic recovery package that puts federal dollars to work in our states in the quickest and most efficient manner as possible.

Deval Patrick, Mass.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Calif.
Bill Ritter, Col.
M. Jodi Rell, Conn.
Jack Markell, Del.
Charlie Crist, Fla.
Pat Quinn, Ill.
Chester Culver, Iowa
Jennifer Granholm, Mich.
Jon Corzine, New Jersey
David Paterson, New York
Ted Strickland, Ohio
Brad Henry, Oklahoma
Ted Kulongoski, Oregon
Ed Rendell, Penn.
James Douglas, Vermont
Tim Kaine, Vir.
Jim Doyle, Wisc.
John deJongh, Virgin Islands

It is also telling that out of the 19 signers of the letter, only four are Republicans, all from very liberal states.

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