Dems Slam Mike Pence for Hosting Job Fair with Stimulus-Backed Employers

The Indiana Congressman, a member of the House Republican leadership, has notably declined to rule out a run, and has traveled the country helping GOP candidates raise money and establishing his conservative, populist brand. If Pence could consolidate the support of the Tea Party movement he could be a major player in the race, particularly since he can come off far more amiably than his stiff sound bites suggest. More Coverage on Mike Pence Getty Images/Alex Wong

MIke Pence
Getty Images/Alex Wong

Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana, like other Republicans in Congress this week, excoriated Democrats for their $26 billion extension of stimulus aid, which President Obama signed into law this week, as a state "bailout" that enables states to put off hard budget decisions.

While on the House floor criticizing the aid package on Tuesday, Pence pointed to a jobs fair he hosted yesterday in his district as an example of Americans "reaching for a better future." He failed to mention, however, that a number of the employers present at the job fair were recipients of stimulus funding.

But Democrats say Pence's job fair is yet another example of Republicans taking credit for jobs created by the stimulus while at the same time criticizing the program. Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee called the House Republican leadership "blatant hypocrites."

"If such blatant hypocrites like Mike Pence, Eric Cantor, and John Boehner had their way, the jobs in their districts that they've been trying to take credit for wouldn't even be there," DCCC spokesperson Ryan Rudominer said.

However, Republicans maintain that, with unemployment hovering at close to 10 percent, the president's policies have clearly failed to create jobs.

"At this very hour more than a thousand Hoosiers are gathered at a job fair in my district," Pence said on the House floor yesterday before Democrats passed the $26 billion bill, which will provide funds for Medicaid and teacher salaries. "Some 65 companies have come together with a few cherished openings. My duty is here. But to be honest with you, I would rather be there, standing with those courageous Hoosiers who have come out, put on their Sunday best, and are reaching for a better future."

Pence continued, "Congress ought to be taking action; but not this, not more of the same. Here we go again. Another jobs bill, another bailout. Washington, D.C. -- now after a year and a half of failed economic policies, a stimulus and borrowing and spending and bailouts and takeovers -- says we need to do another jobs bill, so let's do another bailout."

On his website, Pence hailed the success of the Sixth Congressional District Job Fair, which drew about 1,200 citizens in a county with a 12 percent unemployment rate.

Pence told the Star-Press newspaper that it was "a priority" for companies participating in the job fair to be hiring.

At least 16 of the 65 companies at the job fair received funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, including Ball State University -- the location of the job fair -- and at least three more benefited indirectly from the stimulus. The impact the stimulus had on those employers was varied. Brevini Wind USA, Inc. of Yorktown, Indiana benefited greatly, receiving $12.75 million to open a new manufacturing facitlity that will produce parts for wind turbine manufacturers.

House Republican Whip Eric Cantor similarly came under fire last year for holding a job fair with stimulus-funded employers while blasting the stimulus.

Democrats have pointed to such figures as examples of hypocrisy from Republicans.

Matt Lloyd, a spokesperson for Pence, said that the nation's unemployment rate shows that Democrats have failed at creating jobs.

"While the Obama administration advances a public relations campaign to convince America that borrowing more money from future generations will heal the economy, the American people continue to ask, 'Where are the jobs?'" he said. "Congressman Pence hosted a job fair to help underemployed and overtaxed constituents get back to work."

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