Most people outside of Congress never heard of 9-term liberal Congressman Steve LaTourette (“R”- OH). But his surprise announcement that he will retire at the end of the year is a big relief to all those who desire limited government. Whether his seat is won by a Democrat or (hopefully) a conservative Republican, we will be better off with LaTourette out of Washington.
Steve LaTourette is an example of a Rockefeller Republican who not only voted the wrong way, but viewed his mission in Congress as one of undermining conservatives and limited government principles. LaTourette is a senior member of the appropriations committee and uses his seniority and friendship with John Boehner to interject himself into every major legislative battle in a negative way. He is not happy to merely quietly vote with the left; he seeks to reshape the party in his image. He referred to some of the conservative freshmen who opposed his statist highway bill as “knuckle-draggers.” LaTourette was one of the few Republicans to vote against defunding NPR. He was also one of the few to vote for the Simpson-Bowles tax increases. Moreover, he is the biggest supporter of Big Labor in the Republican Party. Last year, he was one of a handful of Republicans to vote against an amendment to bar funds to the Justice Department for programs that violate the Defense of Marriage Act.
In 2004, when he violated his term-limit pledge, LaTourette said “The bottom line, term limits were born out of this romantic notion of having citizen legislators, and I really believed that. But it doesn’t work out in reality.” And that is exactly what LaTourette stands for; power for power's sake. While he is decrying the terrible partisanship of the Tea Party in his parting comments to the press, LaTourette is ultimately retiring because he realized that he would be denied a coveted chairmanship in the next Congress. At a press conference today, LaTourette lamented that "if you want to go up in the ranks of either party you gotta give them your wallet and your voting card."
LaTourette proceeded to bemoan the fact that "words like compromise have been like dirty words" and that the failure to pass a budget-busting federally-controlled transportation bill is "an embarrassment to the House of Representatives." Then, as reported by NBC's Frank Thorp, he continued to admonish us about the impending fiscal disaster, warning that "we are a hiccup away from being Europe, we are a hiccup from being Greece."
Therein lies the tortured hypocrisy of liberal Republicans. They join the chorus of those concerned with our Greece-style socialism, even after years of support for the very policies that have led to this disaster. To the extent that we have not reached the level of fiscal dissoluteness of Greece, it is precisely because of the uncompromising "extremists" like the Tea Party. If 100% of political power would have been in the hands of Democrats and LaTourette Republicans for the past few decades, we would have already surpassed Greece as the basket case of the world.
Mr. LaTourette, it is your bipartisanship that has saddled us with $15.9 trillion in debt.
It is your notion of compromise that has allowed our society to become entirely reliant on government for healthcare and income during old age. It wasn't extreme Tea Party conservatism that has placed 46 million on food stamps and 50 million on Medicaid.
It is your transportation policy that has made all 50 states reliant on the federal government for every last infrastructure project.
It is your pursuit of power for power's sake that has ensured that our budget will never balance because our political process is run by parochial interests. It is the desire of Republicans like you to appear amicable toward Democrat special interests that has led to the $17 trillion welfare state since the ‘60s.
It is your bipartisan support of rapacious public sector unions that has destroyed private enterprise, eliminated jobs, and bankrupted states.
Now the media is soliciting comments from aggrieved liberals within the party. Rep. Richard Hanna (RINO-NY) accused conservatives of being excessively angry and "incapable of governing." Well, Mr. Hanna, if you like the governance of craddle-to-grave society and $16 trillion debt, then why don't you join the party that is champions such governance? Maybe Pelosi will give you a chairmanship ...I mean a Ranking Member slot.
And the last time I checked, you seemed pretty angry yourself when you spoke before a pro-abortion rally and declared "this is a dogfight, it's a fistfight," beckoning the attendees to contribute to Democrats.
Undoubtedly, there is plenty of room for dissent within our party and plenty of opportunities for bipartisanship. We need to work together and offer our best proposals to allow young workers to take control of their own retirement destiny; we need to consider all proposals to bend the cost of healthcare and make Medicare work like a free market; we need to listen to all ideas and proposals that will help wean dependency and limit government.
But we need members of our party who understand that we have a problem in the first place; that we have a dependency crisis; that we have a crisis of market distortions; that we are overwhelmed by parochial interests instead of constitutional ideals that treat everyone equally. We also need an opposition party that recognizes those problems as well. Then we can work together and compromise on specific solutions to solve those problems.
Sadly, that will never happen as long we have members like LaTourette and Hanna in the conference. We cannot stave off a Greece-like crisis if we are going to elect members who pursue …Greece-style policies.
Don't let the door hit you on the way out.
Cross-posted from The Madison Project