One of the most conservative members of the House, Congressman Justin Amash, is being challenged by local businessman Brian Ellis, an establishment Republican. While Brian Ellis is framing himself as a “true conservative” who is trying to stop the “libertarians” like Amash, simple research shows that his campaign is being supported by big business monetarily and by liberal activists on social media.
Having little to no original ideas of his own, Ellis is sticking to his talking points. The basis of his campaign revolves around a few cherry-picked votes taken by Amash which Ellis says he disagrees with.
Here are the objections Mr. Ellis has with Justin Amash’s voting record, acccording to the campaign announcement press release on his Facebook page. After each objection I will post Amashs’ explanation for each vote word for word from his Facebook page. Justin Amash is the only member of Congress who explains every one of his votes, big and small.
Ellis Objection: Congressman Amash voted against the fiscal year 2014 House Republican Budget that cuts spending by $4.6 trillion over ten years. [Roll Call 88, 3-21-13]
I voted no on H Con Res 25, the House Republican budget resolution for fiscal year 2014. This year’s budget is almost identical to last year’s budget, which didn’t balance until 2038. This budget balances by 2024, which is a big improvement, but it does so largely because it accepts the $600 billion in new taxes established at the time of the so-called fiscal cliff deal (which I opposed). It *increases* government spending at the rate of approximately 3.4 percent per year.
The budget satisfies the overall discretionary spending caps provided for in the Budget Control Act (debt ceiling deal) of 2011, but it violates the two distinct caps for defense and nondefense spending required under sequestration. Instead of (temporarily) reducing defense spending, as the sequester requires, the budget shifts the cuts to nondefense spending—increasing the reduction to nondefense programs for fiscal year 2014 from $38 billion to $91 billion.
Contrary to common Republican assertions, military spending is considerably higher under Pres. Obama than under Pres. Bush, and it continues to grow. To be credible on deficit reduction, Congress must begin making reforms to military spending, which is the federal government’s second largest expenditure and nearly equal to the military spending of the rest of the world combined. Nondefense spending should be reduced significantly, but it’s unrealistic and bad policy to propose drastic cuts to programs at home so that exaggerated Pentagon budgets and military spending can continue unabated.
I applaud the GOP budget and Chairman Paul Ryan for presenting sound ideas about reforming health care costs, simplifying the tax code, and changing spending priorities. But a real, bipartisan compromise is necessary if we’re ever truly going to balance the budget, and military spending must be part of that equation.
Ellis Objection : Congressman Amash voted against the fiscal year 2013 House Republican Budget that cuts spending by $5.3 trillion over ten years. [Roll Call 151, 3-29-12]
Here’s the roll call for H Con Res 112, the House budget resolution. Chairman Paul Ryan deserves credit for putting together a budget that is substantially better than any of the alternatives offered by Pres. Obama and the Democrats. Nonetheless, it falls short of what is necessary. Here’s my take on the budget from my recent op-ed: http://facebook.com/repjustinamash/posts/361931537178667.
Ellis Objection: Congressman Amash voted against the Small Business Tax Cut Act, which would cut taxes by 20% for small businesses. [Roll Call 177, 4-19-12]
Here’s the roll call for H R 9, Small Business Tax Cut Act. The bill allows businesses that employ fewer than 500 employees to deduct 20% of their income in 2012. The bill applies to any company regardless of its corporate form.
Cutting taxes on businesses for one year is not a limited-government approach. It’s a big-government, central-planning approach. Moreover, businesses are unlikely to make significant capital purchases or hire new workers if they’re uncertain that the lower tax rate will exist after 2012.
CBO estimates the bill will reduce revenue (increase the deficit) by $46 billion over one tax year. In an era of $15 trillion debt, we need substantial spending cuts alongside any such new tax cut. We also need comprehensive tax reform—lower rates and a simpler structure, which includes ending the loopholes and special, targeted breaks. Gimmicky, one-year cuts like this do not create an environment conducive to spontaneous, free-market economic growth. I voted “no,” along with several of the most conservative Representatives. It passed 235-173-1.
I frequently disagree with the The Wall Street Journal, but they’re mostly right on this one:http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304432704577347931190665096.html?mod=googlenews_wsj.
Ellis Objection: Congressman Amash refused to vote in favor of the Keystone Pipeline, instead voting “present”. [Roll Call 179, 5-22-13]
I voted present on H R 3, Northern Route Approval Act. The Keystone XL pipeline is a private project owned by TransCanada Corporation. This bill improperly exempts TransCanada Corporation—and no other company—from laws that require pipeline owners and operators to obtain certain government permits and approvals.
I support construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, and holding it up for over four years (with no end in sight) for political reasons is wrong. It’s improper, however, for Congress to write a bill that names and benefits one private project, while doing nothing to address the underlying problems that allowed such delays to occur. The Constitution gives Congress the power “to regulate Commerce with foreign Nations,” but the Rule of Law requires that legislation be of general, not specific, applicability. A proper bill would address the circumstances that allow *any* such project to be held up for political reasons, not just Keystone XL.
As F.A. Hayek explained in The Constitution of Liberty: “It is because the lawgiver does not know the particular cases to which his rules will apply, and it is because the judge who applies them has no choice in drawing the conclusions that follow from the existing body of rules and the particular facts of the case, that it can be said that laws and not men rule. Because the rule is laid down in ignorance of the particular case and no man’s will decides the coercion used to enforce it, the law is not arbitrary. This, however, is true only if by ‘law’ we mean the general rules that apply equally to everybody. This generality is probably the most important aspect of that attribute of law which we have called its ‘abstractness.’ As a true law should not name any particulars, so it should especially not single out any specific persons or group of persons.”
My commitment to my constituents when I took office was that I may vote present on legislation in three extremely rare circumstances (this is the 12th present vote out of nearly two thousand votes in Congress): (1) when I could otherwise support the legislation, but the legislation uses improper means to achieve its ends, e.g., singling out a specific person or group for special treatment; (2) when Representatives have not been given a reasonable amount of time to consider the legislation; or (3) when I have a conflict of interest, such as a personal or financial interest in the legislation—a circumstance that hasn’t happened yet and I don’t anticipate happening.
H R 3 uses improper means to accomplish its laudable goal by singling out TransCanada Corporation and its Keystone XL pipeline for special treatment.
It passed 241-175-1.
Ellis Objection: Congressman Amash twice refused to vote in favor of preventing tax dollars from going to Planned Parenthood, America’s largest abortion provider, instead voting “present”. [Roll Call 93, 2-19-11; Roll Call 271, 4-14-11]
H Con Res 36 defunds Planned Parenthood but leaves all other abortion providers funded. Today, I offered an amendment to prohibit federal funding of ALL private non-hospital entities that perform abortions. The GOP-led Rules Committee refused to allow a vote on my amendment, which would stop more abortions and provide for a single, uniform law. I cannot support legislation that treats similar entities differently.
Additionally, Amash actually called into a radio show to debate Ellis over his votes, leaving Ellis virtually speechless.
Now that we know why Amash voted the way he did on those specific bills, let’s take a look at how he votes overall using some notable conservative scorecards:
Club for Growth: 100%
Heritage Action: 87%
^Heritage generally deducts points for reducing military spending and supporting civil liberties
The New American Freedom Index: 93%
So why is Brian Ellis really running?
Most likely some influential establishment Republicans, angry with Amash, put him up to it. Remember, Amash was one of the members kicked off the budget committee, and he led the charge against the NSA. Powerful interests have a problem with such courage and will take steps to eliminate threats to the status quo in Washington.