EDITOR OF REDSTATE
The Michigan Republican Who Will Raise Your Taxes
For this week’s primary target, I want to make an exception. I do it because the Congressman deserves it and to make a point. I want to focus on someone who represents a district that is split evenly between Republicans and Democrats. For sure, I think its wise to focus on those Republicans who are wasting a good conservative seat, which is why I have covered districts so far that are +10 GOP seats or better. Those are no brainers. But I’d be remiss if I didn’t occasionally draw attention to liberal Republicans in swing districts also — particularly one on the Super Committee who seems hell bent on raising your taxes.
Why? For a couple of reasons. First of all, conservatives can hold these seats when they are principled and willing to explain themselves to their constituents. Republican politicos love to forget that Pat Toomey represented a Democrat district that voted for Al Gore, John Kerry, and Barak Obama. He was a die hard advocate of free trade amidst calls for steel tariffs in the steel mills of Allentown, Pennsylvania. He didn’t just vote and hide. He was typically the leader of House conservatives during his time in the House of Representatives. He would win handily with winning percentages of 57% (2002), 53% (2000), and 55% (1998). And now he is serving in the United States Senate representing the blue state of Pennsylvania.
But the reason that it is so important to fill these seats with conservatives is because they often act like a ring in a bull’s nose, steering the Republican majority as a whole to the left and using their “potential” electoral demise to demand concessions from their conservative colleagues. These concessions are normally done in concert with a sympathetic Leadership who are always willing to take a moderate’s word for what is needed to get elected.
Let’s take just three vignettes that barely show up in the voting record of this Congressman, who was elected in 1986 and is serving his 13th term (its not you, Charlie Dent, so you can relax for now).It’s February of 1995. Republicans have just taken control of the House of Representatives and are now trying to pass the various parts of the Contract With America. One of those major components is a $190 billion tax cut. This Congressman, and his colleagues with the Tuesday Group, insists that the tax cut be put on hold until the budget was balanced, which up until this point has not been done in decades. “With everyone trying to out tax-cut each other, we’re talking about very sizable cuts in revenue,” he says, joining his colleagues that maybe the Contract shouldn’t be followed “word for word.” Three months later, this Congressman joins with about a dozen Republicans and 23 Democrats in threatening to “take down the rule” if language isn’t included to revoke the tax cut if specific deficit reductions were not met.
Such procedural rules are party-line votes that set up the terms of debate on each piece of legislation. The Leadership hates when Congressmen vote against these procedural rules, and its worth noting that with all the mind-numbing complaints about awesome work of Jim Jordan and the RSC this year, there has been no talk thus far of taking a rule down. (I think there should be, but that’s for another post.) This Congressman threatened it in month three of a new House majority to bring down a tax cut that was promised in the Contract with America.
Was he just a deficit hawk who just thought you should balance the budget before you cut taxes? Hardly. That first Republican Majority, led by then-Budget Chairman John Kasich, wrote some serious balanced budgets from the get-go that included all the features of Paul Ryan’s current plan. And just three years later in 1998, this Congressmen showed his true colors writing letters to his Leadership that, “The total amount of…spending cuts are still of such magnitude that they are neither desirable nor attainable,” in hopes of derailing that year’s budget. Balancing the budget was just a useful tool to block a tax cut and collect taxes for the welfare state.
It’s July of 1995. House Republicans are trying to reign in the EPA through the appropriations process. In addition to cutting its funding, the appropriations bill includes a number of riders designed to reform Bill Clinton’s EPA, such as blocking a mandate for employers to implement employee commute programs and an emission regulation that would have shut down small refineries. Clinton calls it the bill the Polluter Protection Act. An amendment is offered by a Democrat Congressman, Louis Stokes of OH, to strip out all of these riders. It passes by a vote 212-206, with the support of 51 Republicans, including this Congressman. House Leaders reverse the vote, but this Congressman is triumphant the riders would eventually be removed. “We’ll ultimately win that one,” he said. He is right.
It’s July of 2006. The same Republican majority is hardly distinguishable from the one that fulfilled its Contract With America. Too much spending, too many earmarks, and too little reform. This Congressman joins with 48 Republican moderates in forcing House Leadership to make matters worse and pass a minimum wage increase. They refuse to back the adjournment recess so that their colleagues can go home for the August recess. Like taking down a rule, voting against an adjournment resolution against your Leadership is a serious business. Guess what? House Republicans pass a minimum wage increase.
Of course, his record is run-of-the-mill terrible, and I have written on it before. Here are the high points:
He supported multiple pay increases for himself, multiple farm bills, multiple highway bills, multiple energy bills filled with subsidies, and multiple omnibus appropriations bills that jam together spending increases and earmarks of all kind into one bill. He voted to protect the NEA, Amtrak, Head Start, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. He voted for No Child Left Behind, the Medicare prescription drug benefit, Sarbanes-Oxley, McCain-Feingold, TARP, SCHIP, and the auto bailout. He voted against capping entitlements and reforming the budget process to control spending, and he voted to override the Bush Administration’s vetoes repeatedly for trying to control spending. And it cannot be ignored, he gave us the ban on the incandescent light bulb.
Let me put it to you this way. Conservatives and conservative majorities go to Washington and don’t ever come home in tact because of the broad damaging impact of Republican Congressmen like this.
His name is Fred Upton (Heritage Action Score 51%). He represents Michigan’s 6th district, and he needs to be primaried.