This is a continuation of our series highlighting members who hail from red districts, yet represent the priorities of House Speaker John Boehner and leadership instead of conservatives. Part 1 can be viewed here and part 2 here.
Like most new candidates during the 2010 election cycle, this member ran on a Tea Party platform. He kicked off his campaign in August 2009 promising it to be “the first day we walk toward reclaiming conservative values.” Yet, within a few months of assuming power, Crawford was already proud to be in Boehner’s “inner circle,” gushing over how the Speaker gave him “a wink and a nod, and a thumbs-up as validation."
To be fair, there were already some red flags with this member while he was running for office in 2010. During the primary, he campaigned on allowing younger workers to utilize private accounts for Social Security benefits. But several months later, he affirmed his complete opposition to any privatization and also said he opposed raising the retirement age.
With regard to taxes, he told activists at that same GOP county dinner, in March 2010, that the flat tax was a “good idea.” Yet, when challenged by his Democrat opponent in this conservative district, he ran from the idea and said he was only tantalized by the flat tax as an interesting idea “just like unicorns.” However, he still committed to opposing all tax increases. His campaign staffer reiterated that he was “against tax increases. It's that simple. He doesn't support anything that is going to take more money out of the pockets of our families.” To that end, he signed the official tax pledge for candidates.
His flimsy pledge didn’t last too long. In March 2012, Crawford unilaterally proposed a 2.5% surtax on millionaires under the absurd notion that if Republicans agree to massive tax increases, Democrats will reciprocate with a commensurate degree of spending cuts. He bought into the Democrat notion that we need a “balanced approach” to a budget agreement – one that includes tax increases and spending cuts. Yet, he only supported tax hikes. During his first term, he supported every bloated budget bill, CR, and debt ceiling increase – even though he once said he was "absolutely opposed to" any increase. Despite being a member of the RSC, he opposed every spending cut proposed by members of that group, earning him a 53% from Heritage Action.
While running for Congress, this member also signed the Citizens Against Government Waste “no pork” pledge. Once he sat in the comfy chair of his Longworth office, his attitude changed. “Constituents expect their congressman to bring back as many federal dollars as they can. I’m only one voice in a very large geographic area. We’ve kind of hit a brick wall without the ability to earmark projects.”
During his few years in the House, this member has championed federal involvement in every aspect of the private sector. As a member of the Agriculture Committee, he has blocked every attempt to empower states and the individual in farming. As a member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, he has opposed any attempt to vest the states with the power and revenue to chart their own course on transportation. He has opposed all efforts to cut Department of Energy green social engineering and was a co-sponsor of the bill to further subsidize wind energy.
The district is Arkansas’s First and the member is Rick Crawford. We can continue acculturating conservative districts to big government politicians or we can begin utilizing these parts of the country to elect conservatives. Which one is it going to be?