We've made a bit of a mistake as a conservative movement fixating so much on the race for the White House. There's a behind the scenes fight happening in Washington right now. Congressional Republicans are not just selling us out, they are hell bent — and I really do mean hell bent — on destroying the conservative groups raising red flags about what they are doing.
For so long the GOP in Washington could hide behind surveys like the American Conservative Union survey, which shows just how much more someone is Republican than Democrat. No one actually did a survey that showed just how conservative the Republicans were internally. What happened was a lot of Republicans took up the conservative banner as their own, claimed to be conservative, and really were selling out conservatives in D.C. as much as the Democrats.
Finally, the Heritage Foundation decided to do something about it. Much wailing, whining, gnashing of teeth, and the odd spectacle of Washington Republicans running to MSNBC to complain has ensued.
Now, my friends at the Heritage Foundation won't like me saying this, but I really believe that along with just about every other conservative group in Washington during the Bush years, Heritage got it in its head that it needed to be a team player with the Bushies instead of being the conservative standard bearer.
That's why we had that tit for tat in the last CNN debate where Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich both blamed the Heritage Foundation for coming up with the individual mandate or something akin to it coupled with exchanges (Heritage isn't very good, or at least wasn't very good, on health care).
But the light went on at the Heritage Foundation. It is one of the few conservative organizations where the light didn't just go on, they replaced the 60 watt for a 100 watt bright light of conservatism. They did something else too — they decided to not just make sure to renew their commitment to conservatism, but to also hold accountable the supposedly conservative members of Congress through a 501(c)(4), Heritage Action for America.
And now we are seeing, coming off Capitol Hill, days of whine and poseurs. Republican members of Congress who are either not or barely are conservative are now being compared to actual conservatives. They can no longer hide. They are livid, petty, and lashing out. In fact, true to their nature, they are going on MSNBC of all places to whine and pose.
Now, I don't know a conservative outside the beltway who views Eric Cantor as being as conservative as Eric Cantor would have you believe. This is a man, you will remember, who told the press the reason conservatives voted against TARP was because Nancy Pelosi had been not nice. Seriously. His Heritage Action for America score is in the 60's — right where I'd have put him.
What makes it so hysterical, but also so tragic, are the number of Republicans who have convinced themselves they are conservative when they not only are not, but have never been. You have porkers and budget appropriators who have expanded the size and scope of the federal government to reward their friends called out on their actions and all they can do is whine.
Over the past three years the Republican-controlled Congress has approved discretionary spending that exceeded Bill Clinton's requests by more than $30 billion. The party that in 1994 would abolish the Department of Education now brags in response to Clinton's 2000 State of the Union Address that it is outspending the White House when it comes to education. My colleagues Stephen Moore and Stephen Slivinski found that the combined budgets of the 95 major programs that the Contract with America promised to eliminate have increased by 13%.
Republicans did that. And many of the Republicans who did that called or still call themselves conservatives.
It is about time we had a group like Heritage Action for America in Washington to call out the poseurs and shed light on their posing. One of the best ways they have done it is to score sponsorship of legislation. This has the poseurs really livid.
It is one thing to vote on legislation that eventually makes it to the floor of the House. Usually, by then, the legislation has been watered down so everybody on the GOP side can sign on. So to overcome the watering down effect, Heritage Action scores sponsorship. Real conservatives should not be ashamed to actually have their name on conservative legislation. It is driving the squishy moderates crazy. For so long Republican congressmen have gotten to go home calling themselves conservative while doing jack for the cause. Heritage Action holds them accountable.
Friends, this is the first time we've had a conservative group really holding Republican feet to the fire in the name of conservatism like this. The reaction we are seeing from Republicans on the Hill is that of men who think themselves gods who are finally being held accountable as public servants after, in many cases, getting a free ride within the conservative movement.
Consider joining Heritage Action for America and advance accountability within the GOP.