When U.S. Rep. John Barrow’s staff updated his campaign website bio earlier this year, there were lots of additions and subtractions.
One subtraction has raised eyebrows, especially in Republican circles.
Barrow, an Augusta Democrat, is seeking re-election in the recently reshaped 12th Congressional District, which now tilts toward the GOP. Republicans are doing their best to link him to Democratic President Barack Obama.
The congressman has sought to distance himself from Obama and has cast some conspicuous votes against the president’s agenda. But he’s also campaigned with Obama’s endorsement and once told voters he was working “hand in hand” with him.
And, as recently as February, the accomplishments listed on the website included the following:
“Standing with President Obama to pass the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which has already brought over $200 million in funding for roads, hospitals, schools, transportation, and housing to communities in the 12th district.”
The item, a reference to what’s more commonly known as the economic stimulus bill, is denounced by Republicans as a wasteful boondoggle.
But Barrow spokesman Richard Carbo disputes that view.
Despite their grousing about what they called excessive federal spending, Georgia Republican officials relied on the stimulus package to pay the state’s bills, Carbo said.
He cited news accounts that described how stimulus funds bailed out state health care and education programs.
Carbo also noted that other reports rebutted at least some of the claims about waste in the $787 billion stimulus package.
So why was the language on the website that touted the stimulus bill dropped from his list of legislative feats?
“The stimulus just wasn’t a high priority issue for this election cycle,” he said. “We have other matters we would like to talk about.”
Among them, he said, are recent non-partisan compilations showing Barrow has one of the House’s most independent voting records. Another, he added, indicates that, a little more often than not, Barrow votes with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.
He said Republicans are using the deletion of the reference to the stimulus as a ploy to divert attention away from Medicare policies backed by Barrow’s GOP Nov. 6 foe, state Rep. Lee Anderson.
The Grovetown lawmaker has supported a controversial proposed overhaul of Medicare advocated by Republican vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan.
He cited analyses that conclude Ryan’s plan would cut benefits.
Not surprisingly, Andrea Bozek, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, views the matter differently.
Barrow, Bozek suggested, is the one trying to deflect attention from an important issue.
“Unfortunately,” she said, “Georgia families can’t push the delete button to wipe out all the damage the Barrow/Obama agenda has done to the economy.”
To be continued.
Until Nov. 6.