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Opinion: GOP Senate candidates celebrate with pro-Yucca, anti-gaming hypocrite



By Phoebe Sweet

nevdemparty-300x61-5349599-9391179LAS VEGAS–Tomorrow the Nevada Republican Party will trot out pro-nuke dump, anti-gaming, stimulus hypocrite Tim Pawlenty, Republican governor of Minnesota, as the keynote speaker for their annual Lincoln Day Dinner.

Expect Pawlenty’s hypocrisy to be on display tomorrow at Palazzo, where he’ll likely attack Democrats for the stimulus bill that brought our economy back from the brink of disaster. What Pawlenty probably won’t mention is that, like other national Republicans, he has taken credit back home for projects funded by the stimulus to which he claims to be so opposed.

Last year Pawlenty flew to ribbon cuttings in five Minnesota cities to unveil 60 new highway projects paid for by stimulus money. In fact, the day after the stimulus bill was enacted last year, Pawlenty crowed about those 60 projects–$180 million worth of road and infrastructure improvements–and said the stimulus would put Minnesotans back to work.

Another thing Pawlenty probably won’t mention during his speech tomorrow: his record of trashing the gaming industry and supporting a nuclear waste dump at Yucca Mountain.

Pawlenty believes gaming is “destructive” and said it was a “sad commentary” for government to raise revenue through gaming, which has a “negative impact on people’s lives.” And in 2002 he said Yucca Mountain should be fast tracked to store Minnesota’s nuclear waste.

“Just like Republican Senate candidates Danny Tarkanian, Sue Lowden and Sharron Angle, Tim Pawlenty has spoken out of both sides of his mouth on the issues that matter most to Nevadans–helping our gaming and tourism economy succeed, preventing dangerous nuclear waste from being stored at Yucca Mountain and advancing a jobs agenda that puts people back to work quickly,” said Phoebe Sweet, communications director for the Nevada State Democratic Party. “It’s clear that Nevada Republicans, in addition to being hypocrites willing to bash the stimulus while taking credit for the projects it pays for, are out of touch with the priorities of ordinary Nevadans.”

Additional information
Pawlenty embarked on a whirlwind tour of the state to promote transportation projects that were funded by the Stimulus Act. In a whirlwind tour of the state that’s certain to provide stimulus to airplane fuel producers, Governor Tim Pawlenty is promoting some of the transportation projects that Minnesota will undertake with the stimulus money approved by Congress. The Governor has said he doesn’t like the stimulus bill but will take the state’s share. In appearances today in Rochester, Mankato, Cambridge, Duluth and St. Paul, all within about seven hours, the Governor announced 60 state highway projects scheduled to begin in greater Minnesota as early as this spring. Stimulus funds targeted for the highway construction, paving, bridge and safety projects total $180 million, he said. [MinnPost.com, 2/25/09]

Pawlenty announced 60 highway projects days after ARRA was enacted. With transportation funding from the federal stimulus package now available, Governor Tim Pawlenty [on February 25, 2009] announced 60 state highway projects that are slated to begin construction in Greater Minnesota as early as this spring. Stimulus funds targeted for the Greater Minnesota highway construction, paving, bridge and safety projects total $180 million. These projects will mean jobs in Greater Minnesota and lasting improvements in our state’s transportation infrastructure, Governor Pawlenty said. These road and highway projects are exactly the kind of bread and butter projects that we should have seen more of in the federal stimulus package. The Federal Highway Administration estimates that the Greater Minnesota transportation projects will create approximately 5,000 jobs. Projects in the Twin Cities metro area are being finalized and will be announced in March. [Press Release, Governor Tim Pawlenty, 2/25/09; vew press conference here]

A year ago Pawlenty said he would use the Recovery Act funding to create and save jobs in Minnesota. “Despite their differences, both governors said they will put their allotted funds towards job creation and retention. ‘We’re at a 25-year high in unemployment,’ Nixon said. ‘We want to use the tools that the Congress and the president have provided to get Missourians back to work.’ Added Pawlenty: ‘That’s what our citizens need most. That’s their stabilizing influence for them, their families, our communities. In any way we can use this money to create and save jobs is the key and important focus.'” [Washington Post, 9/23/09]

Pawlenty’s administration touted the job-creating effects of Recovery Act projects. “As Bloomberg later reported, Pawlenty’s criticisms of the stimulus are at odds with both economists and the statements of Pawlenty’s own economic development director, Dan McElroy. McElroy, Pawlenty’s ‘point man on jobs and economic development,’ leads the Department of Employment and Economic Development. He recently went on a 10 city road show titled ‘Advancing Economic Prosperity’ touting the benefits of the stimulus. Speaking about the positive effects of the stimulus, McElroy said: ‘Our goal was to put this money to work as quickly as possible. Communities and job-seekers throughout Minnesota are seeing tangible results from this funding.‘” [Think Progress, 8/29/09 (emphasis in original)]

Pawlenty hoped nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain would be completed before Prairie Island nuclear waste site in Minnesota reached capacity. “They seemed, for a time, to differ on one issue–whether they would enforce a 1994 law that limits the storage of nuclear waste at the Prairie Island power plant in Red Wing. Sullivan said he would not enforce the law if it meant the power plant would close. Pawlenty said that he favored holding the power plant to current limits, but that he hopes a federal nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada will be completed before Prairie Island reaches capacity. By law, the site can store 17 nuclear waste casks. In interviews after the debate, both Pawlenty and Sullivan said that if Yucca Mountain is not in operation when Prairie Island’s 17 casks are filled, they would allow the power plant to continue generating electricity. Xcel Energy, owner of the Prairie Island plant, expects the 17 casks to provide storage until 2007.” [St. Paul Pioneer Press, 4/30/02]

Pawlenty wanted to “transition to a permanent storage at Yucca Mountain or to a private arrangement in Nevada” for Minnesota’s nuclear waste. In October 2002, the Associated Press asked Pawlenty, “If Xcel Energy came to you as governor asking you to reconsider its deal on storing Prairie Island nuclear waste, what would you say to them? How would you address nuclear waste concerns?” Pawlenty responded, “Under certain circumstances, yes, and those circumstances would be if we have no other way to produce power in Minnesota, and the choice is turn the lights down or keeping Prairie Island open a little while longer, I would keep Prairie Island open a little while longer. … We need to make sure we maintain a reliable and economic source of energy in Minnesota, and as we transition to a permanent storage at Yucca Mountain or to a private arrangement in Nevada, I think it is, there may be a time where Prairie Island needs to stay open before those permanent sites are available. And I’d be willing to consider that under certain conditions.” [AP, 10/27/02]

Pawlenty said gambling was “destructive” and had a “negative impact on people’s lives.” The Associated Press reported in March 2003, “‘It’s money mania,’ Pawlenty said last week of the bundle of gambling bills introduced so far. ‘These are creative ways but maybe inappropriate ways to get more money into the state’s coffers. I understand that motive, but expanding gambling is not a good way to do it.’” In April 2003, the Associated Press reported that “big obstacles still stand in the way of expanded gambling in Minnesota, including Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who said he’d likely veto a casino bill. ‘If we need money, there’s lots of ways for government to get it that are not as destructive,’ Pawlenty, a Republican, said in a recent interview. ‘If the only objective is to get money, then why don’t we have a government Wal-Mart or a government Target or a government Wendy’s? They all would make money for the government and they would have less negative impact on people’s lives.’” [AP, 3/21/03; 4/26/03]

Pawlenty claimed that “a high percentage of the revenues derived from gambling come from people who are addicted to it.” In a 2003 interview with the editorial page editor of the Pioneer Press, Pawlenty said of a proposed “racino” (casino at a racetrack) slot plan, “The door is not shut completely, but I don’t like the idea for a variety of reasons. It is not a proper function of government to be running casinos. A high percentage of the revenues derived from gambling come from people who are addicted to it. It is a sad commentary to turn to those revenue sources for government funding.” [Saint Paul Pioneer Press, 5/4/03]

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