Governors can't pick and choose which stimulus money to take

State Auditor David Vaudt’s a pretty good bean-counter, but he did not read the fine print of the stimulus bill Congress recently passed. (In fairness, the document was more than 1,000 pages long.) Vaudt told the Iowa Political Alert blog that

the state should consider the nearly $1.9 billion expected to flow to Iowa through the package in cafeteria style – taking millions here but potentially leaving money on the table elsewhere if he thinks the short-term gain would give birth to unwieldy bureaucracy down the road.

“I would sort through each piece of the stimulus package and try and say ‘where does it fit Iowa the most,'” he said.

(Hat tip to Iowa Independent.)

But Senator Charles Schumer of New York has bad news for Republican governors (or in this case a would-be governor) advocating an a la carte approach to the stimulus:

As you know, Section 1607(a) of the economic recovery legislation provides that the Governor of each state must certify a request for stimulus funds before any money can flow. No language in this provision, however, permits the governor to selectively adopt some components of the bill while rejecting others. To allow such picking and choosing would, in effect, empower the governors with a line-item veto authority that President Obama himself did not possess at the time he signed the legislation. It would also undermine the overall success of the bill, as the components most singled out for criticism by these governors are among the most productive measures in terms of stimulating the economy.

Vaudt may run for governor in 2010, but I don’t give him much chance of winning a Republican primary. A few days ago he dared to suggest that Iowans may have to pay higher gas taxes in order to adequately fund road projects. That will rile up the base in the wrong way.

Speaking to Iowa Political Alert, Vaudt acknowledged that he hasn’t focused much on social issues in the past. He added that on abortion he’s a “pro-life person” who would make exceptions in the case of rape or when the mother’s life is in danger.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think Republican Congressional candidate Mariannette Miller-Meeks had exactly the same stance on abortion and was consequently attacked by Iowa Right to Life. Amazingly, the State Central Committee of the Republican Party of Iowa barely had the votes to censure RNC committeewoman Kim Lehman for failing to support Miller-Meeks during her campaign against Congressman Dave Loebsack last fall.

I don’t think Vaudt will satisfy the social conservatives who dominate GOP primaries in Iowa unless several candidates of the Bob Vander Plaats variety split those votes.  

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