The Members Behind the Purge of Conservatives

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012 and is filed under Blog, Issues

Yesterday, we noted that not only did House leadership select moderates to fill vacant spots on the top congressional committees, they made the unprecedented decision to banish conservatives already sitting on some important committees.  All of the decisions related to committee assignments are decided by a Steering Committee.  At present, the Steering Committee is comprised of 31 members, most of who are either members of leadership or pushed onto the committee by leadership.  These are the men and women behind the decision to throw conservatives under the bus.

It’s important to note that Boehner gave himself 5 votes and Cantor 2 votes on the committee, so there are actually a total of 36 votes on each committee assignment decision.  Here is the list of the committee members:

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The Purge of Conservatives Continues

Monday, December 3rd, 2012 and is filed under Blog, Issues

Well, House leadership made sure to elevate like-minded members to leadership; they took care to co-opt the Republican Study Committee; they packed the Steering Committee, which chooses committee assignments, with a bunch of loyalists.  Now we’re seeing the effects of those decisions.

Maybe it’s because he’s intent on repealing Dodd-Frank.  Maybe it’s because he wants to use his committee assignment to advocate winding down Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  Perhaps it’s because of his opposition to the $1 trillion farm bill.  Maybe it’s because he’s just too darn conservative to sit on an important committee.

Earlier today, we provided a list of those who made it onto the Super A committees.  Well, Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ) is a conservative freshman member who was actually kicked off the Financial Services Committee.  Members are rarely kicked off committees unless there is a scandal.

David Schweikert is one of those 2010 freshmen who is actually a Tea Partier in deed as well as rhetoric.  While many freshmen folded under the pressure from leadership, Schweikert was actually removed from the Whip team because of his conservative dissent during the budget battles.

And who is replacing him on the committee?  Our good buddy, Richard Hudson (NC-8), who was handpicked by leadership to run.  Hmmm, I can’t remember the last time a sophomore member was replaced by an incoming freshman for no good reason. [Correction: It looks like Hudson was not placed on the Financial Services Committee once he got a spot on the Steering Committee.  Instead he was appointed to the Agriculture Committee at the same time as Tim Huelskamp, an Ag policy expert, was thrown off the committee.]

Moreover, there are at least seven vacancies on this committee.  It’s not like there were too many qualified candidates.  Cantor and McCarthy went out of their way to banish Schweikert from the committee, even though he is one of the few remaining freshmen who were reelected.  It’s pretty sad they are willing to let their personal vendetta lead their decision to knock off one of the most knowledgeable members on issues pertaining to GSEs and monetary policy from the committee.

Then there’s the case of Tim Huelskamp (R-KS).  He is one of the most conservative members of the House.  He was told today that his service on the Budget Committee would no longer be appreciated.  Maybe it’s because of statements like this.

Update: Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) was also tossed off the Budget Committee.

Update II: The Club for Growth illuminates an ancillary benefit from this purge: “Congressmen Schweikert, Huelskamp, and Amash are now free of the last remnants of establishment leverage against them. We expect that these three defenders of economic freedom will become even bolder in their efforts to defend the taxpayers against the big spenders in both parties,” said Club for Growth President Chris Chocola in a press release.

There are more conservatives who are being left off any A or B level committee as we speak.  Some don’t have any committee assignments yet for next year.

It’s becoming clear that there is only one faction that demands ideological purity.  And it’s not the faction that upholds the ideology of the party.

The Most Important Election: Tom Graves for RSC Chairman

Thursday, November 8th, 2012 and is filed under Blog, Elections

Folks, we’ve got a problem.  There is no conservative leadership inside of Washington to serve as a firewall against Obama’s impending socialist onslaught.  We’ve spent the past two years refusing to fight Obamacare, the fiscal cliff, or the debt.  These issues were totally absent from the campaign.  Whether we like it or not, the House of Representatives must serve as our lifeline, an oasis of constitutional conservatism amidst the European ideals.

Ideally, it would be great to have one of our own in a leadership position in the House.  Unfortunately, the current crop of GOP leaders will remain at their posts.  Consequently, the most important remaining contested position in the 113th Congress is Chairman of the Republican Study Committee.  Yes, we are all wary of elections, but we must engage in one more election.  We must elect a conservative leader in the House to stand up for the Constitution (and the “48%” who voted against socialism) inside of Congress.  We must urge our Republican members to vote for Tom Graves as the next RSC Chair.

The RSC is the caucus of House conservatives who stand on principle fighting bad policies and promoting conservative policies, irrespective of the legislation put forth by Republican leadership.  Not only do they serve as an anchor for the conservative members within Congress, they provide Tea Party outsiders with friends who are willing to push our agenda on the inside.

It goes without saying that the chairman of the RSC – who serves for two years – plays a critical role in standing up for conservatives within the party against all establishment forces.  The role of RSC Chair is even more critical when Republicans control the House than when they are in the minority.  Amidst Republican majority, the RSC Chair has to take a leadership role in opposing bad policies proposed by fellow party members.

While there are officially 164 members of the RSC, many of them are just members in name only – a facade to offer them conservative cover for their lack of conservative principles.  However, the core 60-80 members, along with the RSC staff, serve as the beacon of limited government for the minority of true conservatives on Capitol Hill.  These two factions are fighting for the heart and the sole of the Republican Study Committee.

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Tom Price for GOP Conference Chairman

Thursday, November 1st, 2012 and is filed under Blog, Elections

As soon as we’re finished with the national elections next week, we as conservatives must assert ourselves over the congressional leadership elections.  Even if we win the political elections on November 6, we must win the policy elections in Congress.  There will be a number of important races to focus on over the next few weeks, including committee assignments, committee chairmanships, and the race for RSC Chairman.  For now, I’d like to focus on the race for Conference Chairman – the 4th ranking position in the Republican leadership hierarchy.

Unfortunately, the top three slots are locked up.  It appears that nobody is willing to challenge Speaker Boehner, Majority Leader Cantor, and Majority Whip McCarthy for their respective positions.  However, with Rep. Jeb Hensarling (TX) vacating the position of Conference Chairman next term (to become Finance Committee Chair), there is an important opportunity for the conservative movement to demand a seat at the table.

Traditionally, the #4 spot was the one position that the GOP moderates were willing to cede to conservatives.  The past two chairmen – Jeb Hensarling and Mike Pence – have been former RSC chairmen.  Well, there is another former RSC chairman vying to replace Hensarling – Dr. Tom Price (Georgia).  However, he is being challenged by Cathy McMorris-Rodgers, the current vice chairman of the conference.

Here’s the deal: if McMorris-Rodgers is allowed to move up to conference chair, we will not have a single conservative voice at the leadership table.  She scores an average 62% conservative rating and a -19 on the Madison Performance Index.  That is exactly in line with Kevin McCarthy (62%), and only slightly better than Eric Cantor (58%).  She is cut from the same cloth as the others and will never provide an alternative conservative perspective to the ‘go along to get along’ echo chamber.  She has worked hand in glove with Cantor and McCarthy on all the budget capitulations.

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TN-4: Scott DesJarlais Must Go

Thursday, October 18th, 2012 and is filed under Blog, Elections, Issues

This year, with the creation of the Madison Performance Index, we have launched an aggressive strategy to elect conservatives from red districts.  Much to the surprise and chagrin of moderate Republicans, we have called attention to the paucity of conservative representatives from conservative districts.  Many conservatives are beginning to understand that if we don’t start electing conservatives in parts of the country where our message easily resonates, we will never obtain a majority even within the Republican Party.

One such seat that appears to be teetering on the verge of destruction is Tennessee-4.  This is an R+13 district and is getting more conservative by the year.  Yet, it is represented by a philandering hypocrite who doesn’t live the life of a conservative.  Now we are on the verge of losing this seat – a district where Obama will likely lose by a 35 point margin – to a Democrat!

Not only does DesJarlais often vote against conservative values, he lives a life that is antithetical to conservatism.  After years of rumors concerning his messy divorce, there are now credible reports that he asked his mistress to get an abortion so as to ensconce his shame and exposure from the affair.

How bad does such hypocritical and vulgar behavior play in middle Tennessee?  Well, according to the latest poll, conservative members of the district are willing to vote for a Democrat.  The Democrat candidate is now within the margin of error!

Do we really need to lose a safe seat in the south on account of a philandering hypocrite?

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Time to Put Conservatives on Major Congressional Committees

Thursday, September 27th, 2012 and is filed under Blog, Issues

While everyone in politics is focused on the horse race of presidential politics, we must not abjure our responsibility to assert conservative control over Congress.  Regardless of who wins the presidential election, we must create a conservative firewall in Congress, particularly in the House.

How do we remake the House as a conservative firewall against big government?  Even if we elect more conservatives, history has shown that they rarely set the agenda outside of leadership.  We could focus on lofty goals, such as replacing the current leaders or even installing new committee chairman.  Sadly, those goals are largely out of reach.  There is one realistic way we can assert control over the legislative process, though.  That is by pushing our best members onto the most consequential committees.

In terms of steering conservatives into committee chairmanships, we have an uphill climb.  The only significant opportunity will open up at the Budget Committee, if Paul Ryan becomes Vice President.  At that point, we will have an opportunity to push for Rep. Scott Garrett, the vice chairman, to grab the gavel of the committee.  However, a more realistic yet important goal would be to install conservatives as regular members on the ‘Super-A’ committees.

By far, the three most consequential committees with jurisdiction over domestic policy are Ways and Means, Appropriations, and Energy & Commerce.  Not surprisingly, those are the worst performing committees from a conservative perspective.  Take a look at a numbers on legislative scorecards from conservative organizations:

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Rep. Tom Graves Set to Become Next RSC Chairman

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012 and is filed under Blog, Issues

Here at the Madison Project, we are avid fans of the Republican Study Committee (RSC).  Not enough can be said of the vital work they do for conservatives inside Congress.

The RSC is the caucus of House conservatives who stand on principle fighting bad policies and promoting conservative policies, irrespective of the legislation put forth by Republican leadership.  While there are officially 164 members of the RSC, many of them are just members in name only – a façade to offer them conservative cover for their lack of conservative principles.  However, the core 60-80 members along with the RSC staff serve as the beacon of limited government thought for the minority of true conservative on Capitol Hill.

Not only do they serve as an anchor for the conservative members within Congress, they provide Tea Party outsiders with friends who are willing to push our agenda on the inside.  We are very proud to work closely with them on legislation.

It goes without saying that the chairman of the RSC – who typically serves for two years – plays a critical role in standing up for conservatives within the party against all establishment forces.  The role of RSC Chair is even more critical when Republicans control the House than when they are in the minority.  During such times, the RSC Chair has to take a leadership role in opposing bad policies proposed by fellow party members.

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Undoing the Food Stamp Presidency

Monday, September 24th, 2012 and is filed under Blog, Debt

Shortly after the November elections, Congress will reconvene for the lame duck session and consider the farm bill at the behest of a bipartisan coalition of statists.  The farm bill is really a food stamp bill.  The House version (H.R. 6083) authorizes $957 billion in spending over 10 years, $756 billion of which will be spent on food stamps and other nutrition programs. The Senate version (S. 3240) authorizes $969 billion in spending over 10 years, $772 billion of which will be spent on food welfare programs.

To put this in perspective, the 2008 farm bill authorized roughly $400 billion in food stamp spending.  In other words, the current farm bill proposals would consummate Obama’s food stamp presidency into the permanent welfare structure.

Instead of doing Obama’s bidding in the lame duck session, John Boehner should bring real welfare reform to the House floor – the State Nutrition Assistance Flexibility Act (H.R. 6518).  This legislation, sponsored by Reps. Tim Huelskamp, Paul Broun, Steve Chabot, and Jim Jordan, would combine  6 food welfare programs into one entity, and block grant it to the states.  Believe it or not, there are 17 different programs dedicated to providing food assistance.  This bill would combine the following 6:

  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP)
  • Community Food Projects
  • Commodity Supplemental Food Program
  • Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program
  • Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP)

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Only 70 Republicans Vote Against Disastrous CR

Friday, September 14th, 2012 and is filed under Blog, Debt

As we noted earlier this week, the Continuing Resolution voted on in the House will increase spending, fund Obamacare, and extend the main welfare program without forcing Obama to reinstate work requirements.  This bill is really an embarrassment to everything House Republicans professed to stand for.  It will delay the major battles until March 27, 2013.  And let me tell you, they will really really really take the Democrats’ lunch money then.  Just wait and see.

The House passed the bill yesterday by a 329-91 margin.  Only 70 Republicans voted no.  It’s very telling that all but 21 Democrats voted for the CR, and half of the no votes were Blue Dogs who were trying to angle to the right in their tough reelection campaigns.  Obviously, they didn’t feel they were being treated to a “Satan sandwich.”  We were.

Click here to download the color-coded spreadsheet of the Republican vote from the Madison Performance Index.

Now the CR moves to the Senate where its passage is a forgone conclusion.  House Republicans will vote on a resolution of disapproval against Obama’s waiver of welfare work requirements next week, but there is no guarantee that McConnell will force a vote in the Senate.  Even if he does, Democrats will now have more leverage to oppose it.  They can point to the fact that Republicans were willing to renew the TANF program in the CR without attaching a work requirement provision.

And that is pretty much the end of the 112th Congress, folks.  That’s a rap…well, at least until the lame duck session – the session that was supposed to be eliminated as a result of the CR.  From here on out, it’s all about the elections, but we must be prepared for a major showdown during the lame duck.

The State of the Race

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012 and is filed under Blog, Elections

There are a lot of questions and uncertainty swirling around the political world concerning the state of the race and what it portends for November.  People on our side are trying to make sense of the polls.  They are trying to make sense of why the biggest failure of a president in the midst of an economic and jobs crisis is leading in the polls.  They are trying to ascertain the erratic nature of voter behavior.

After observing politics and public policy fights for many years, and most notably during the Obama years, I’ve picked up on several truisms regarding voter behavior:

  • In politics, you either drive the narrative or become a victim of the narrative.  You never win on defense, even if you have a good defense.  The only defense in politics is a relentless offense.  There is no middle ground, especially for Republicans.
  • Swing voters are not attracted to moderate candidates.  They are not necessarily attracted to liberals or conservatives either.  They are attracted to the most forceful and decisive candidate in the race.
  • Despite their claims to the contrary, swing voters who lack an ideological core are actually the most impressed by a show of force and are most susceptible to being swayed by negative attacks.
  • Whoever best articulates why specific aspects of the other guy’s persona or ideas will cause specific harm, irrespective of the veracity of those claims, will walk away with the election.  The facts and the data concerning the economy or anything else will not stand for itself in the eyes of the voters.  They will not delve into every aspect, or even any aspect of the monthly BLS employment report.  They will not connect the dots.  The candidates must do that for them.  Whoever connects those dots for them will win, irrespective of who is right about the facts.
  • Most voters lack a coherent ideology like those of us who follow politics more closely.  They are self-contradictory in their voting patterns.  The one thing they are consistent about is that they like winners.  You act like a winner and you will win.  If you cede ground on an issue, even if the public originally sided with you, the image of a retreating loser will move the needle away from you.
  • A candidate, particularly a Republican, who takes “the high road” and fails to launch robust and relentless attacks against his opponent, will not only lose the election but won’t even get credit for running a positive campaign.

Once you understand those truisms, the recent events are not enigmatic at all.  They make a lot of sense.

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