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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

LeMieux says stimulus like 'cheese factory on the moon'



A4s_adamcol082909_82902c Like his former boss Gov. Charlie Crist, Sen. George LeMieux faces an awkward dance when discussing the federal stimulus.

LeMieux says, as a senator, he would not have voted for the plan that passed, "now that we see how little of that money has stimulated the economy." That would put him at odds with Crist, who said he would have taken the "pragmatic" approach and voted for the plan.

But as a governor, LeMieux said he would have made the same decision as Crist did in accepting the funds. "I like every other governor in the country would have taken the money," LeMieux told the St. Petersburg Times. "Where you stand," he added, "depends on where you sit."

LeMieux said some of the funds have been helpful to Florida, citing money used to prevent teacher cuts, to begin road projects and to fund high-speed rail. "You know hindsight is 20/20," he said, adding he could understand why some voted for the package. "The sky was falling."

He explained the mixed response this way:

"Sen. Phil Gramm, who is about as fiscally conservative as anyone who has ever served here, said that if the U.S. Senate decided to build a cheese factory on the moon, he would have voted against it. But if it passed, he would sure make sure that the parts for it were built in Texas," LeMieux said. "I believe the same thing."

The Marco Rubio campaign jumped on LeMieux's view, saying that even Crist's closest adviser opposed the plan. The campaign noted the Orlando Sentinel piece from May 2009 in which Crist staked out a different position than Rubio and then Sen. Mel Martinez by saying he would have voted for the stimulus.

Said Rubio spokesman Alex Burgos: “When it comes to creating jobs at a time of record unemployment in Florida, Charlie Crist’s and Barack Obama’s stimulus promises have proven to be as realistic as a ‘cheese factory on the moon.' "

[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 12:28pm]


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