Barbour Goes National, Again | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Barbour Goes National, Again

Gov. Haley Barbour was in Washington, D.C., this weekend for the National Governors Association's annual conference, but he made headlines for extracurricular activities, speaking against the federal stimulus bill and rallying Republican opposition to health-care reform and climate-change regulations.

Barbour appeared on "Fox News Sunday" with Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, a Democrat, to debate the efficacy of the federal stimulus package passed last year. Barbour criticized the size of the stimulus package and argued in favor of other measures, like a payroll tax holiday. He acknowledged that the stimulus has saved jobs but argued that it has done little for private-sector employment.

"State government has benefited by the stimulus package, because it's poured in billions of dollars. The problem is we need private sector jobs," Barbour said. "The private sector in Mississippi has benefited very, very little--particularly in the area of job creation."

When not on national television, Barbour has shown more support for the stimulus bill. In a Feb. 17 announcement, Barbour praised Obama and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood for awarding Mississippi a $20 million grant for railroad expansions at the Port of Gulfport. Barbour's office called the grant "a major step for Mississippi's economy" in a statement.

Barbour has also dedicated up to $43 million in stimulus funds directly to subsidizing private sector jobs. The initiative, called Mississippi STEPS, could generate up to 3,500 jobs.

Analyses by independent economic research firms like IHS Global Insight and Macroeconomic Advisers estimate that the stimulus package has saved between 1.6 million and 1.8 million jobs so far and could save up to 2.5 million jobs.

A former chairman of the Republican National Committtee, Barbour was a key GOP leader during the party's resurgence in the early to mid-1990s. His name frequently appears on speculative lists of Republican presidential candidates for 2012, and while he has not given any indication that he will run, he has not ruled it out, either.

Barbour was similarly coy this weekend, quipping to reporters on Friday, "If you see me losing 40 pounds, that means I'm either running or have cancer."

On Friday, Barbour sent a letter as chairman of the Republican Governors Association calling on President Barack Obama to invite governors to the White House's bipartisan health-care summit next week.

"If the White House is truly interested in moving health-care reform forward, they need to invite governors to the health care summit," Barbour said in a statement. "After seeing the bipartisan reaction from governors to the previous health-care bills, it simply makes sense for the White House to seek input from governors before unveiling new legislation that could again be untenable to state governments."

Barbour is also attempting to muster Republican opposition to greenhouse gas regulations. The New York Times reported Feb. 19 that Barbour has been circulating a draft letter to Republican governors, urging Congress to block new rules from the Environmental Protection Agency. In Apr. 2009, the EPA issued new regulations would allow it to regulate emmissions of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane because they endanger the environment and public health.

Congress can block the EPA's new regulations by passing a resolution to veto them, and Republicans in both the House and Senate have introduced measures to do so, though neither is likely to pass. Three states--Alabama, Texas and Virginia--have also filed lawsuits against the EPA's regulations, while 16 other states are seeking to support the rules in court.

Barbour, who advocated for energy companies during his tenure as a lobbyist in Washington, sent a similar letter in 2001 to then-Vice President Dick Cheney. In the letter, Barbour called on then President George W. Bush to drop his commitments to reducing carbon dioxide emissions. The letter was successful, and Bush never pushed for greenhouse gas controls.

A previous version of this story erroneously stated that independent analyses by economic research firms estimate the stimulus package could ultimately save 2.5 billion jobs. The correct figure is 2.5 million jobs.

Previous Comments


Baquan, Someone "putting their money where their mouth is" is usually a good thing. It's no big secret that this state has serious holes in the budget and pushing conservative fiscal legislation is exactly what's needed. It's kinda simple really, we either need to cut spending or raise revenues (taxes). Raising taxes right now is political if not economic suicide. As far as Barbour running, he may but I don't think he or any other of the old guard of Republicans has much of a chance of being a serious contender. Most tea partiers and independents don't seem to have any great love for Bush or his ilk. Independent voters who lean conservative, like me, are looking for something to rally around. I will probably check out a tea party rally the next chance I get. I don't feel like the Republicans represent me and I certainly don't believe the Democrats have any clue how to be responsible or to lead the government. More spending for bigger government programs is not high on the list of things that Americans are looking for, in my opinion. So, if the democrats want to pass some sort of legislation they better hurry up because come November their time as majority is over. People still want change and more and more, both parties look like more of the same old, same old.


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