The Corner

The New York Times’s Fuzzy Math

I’ve been under the weather so I’m just now getting around to addressing this New York Times article, “Obama Gains Support From G.O.P. Governors,” from earlier today:

WASHINGTON — President Obama must wish governors could vote in Congress: While just three of the 219 Republican lawmakers backed the $787 billion economic recovery plan that he is signing into law on Tuesday, that trifling total would have been several times greater if support among the 22 Republican state executives counted.

What? The article itself only names four governors that explicitly support the bill:

Across the country, from California’s Arnold Schwarzenegger to Florida’s Charlie Crist and New England’s Jim Douglas in Vermont and M. Jodi Rell in Connecticut, Republican governors showed in the stimulus debate that they could be allies with Mr. Obama even as Congressional Republicans spurned him.

The New York Times doesn’t mention that Nevada’s GOP Governor Jim Gibbons also supports the bill, something I know because, oh yeah, I called all 22 GOP governors’ offices and asked. The rest of the article seems to hint that that any governor who is angling to reclaim an appropriate slice of the state taxpayers’ own money is de facto supportive of the Democratic agenda rather than simply acting in the interest of their consituents. As Ramesh has noted, that argument is specious at best.

So out of 219 Republicans in Congress, three voted for the stimulus. Throw in the 22 GOP governors, and eight out of 241 Republican politicians support the bill. If you want to make this about ratios and make a weak apples to oranges comparison, I suppose you could say that five out of 22 Republican governors is “several times greater” than three out of  219 in Congress. But if you’re going to discuss “total” votes it seems misleading and wrong to say “several times greater.” And that doesn’t change the fact that there are scant few Republican office holders willing to support the stimulus package period, and the small minority of Governors that are supportive are all united by the fact that they are presiding over financial catastophes in their respective states.

The entire article is premised on the fact that there’s a some sort of disparity between pragmatic governors and an ideological congress. The facts and figures simply don’t bear that out.

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