The Time to End Agriculture Dependency is Now

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013 and is filed under Blog, Issues

Despite the electoral failures of the past two presidential elections, we can still take solace in the fact that there are more red states than blue states; more red districts than blue districts.  Hence, there are more parts of the country where people are intuitively suspicious of a large federal government than where there are people who are overtly appreciative of the federal leviathan.  So why is it that there are only a small group of elected officials who are committed to significantly shrinking the size of the federal government?

Creating dependency is the catalyst for cementing a long-term coalition of big government statists.  Most people think of big urban states and cities when discussing the politics of dependency and special interests; however, the red states have their own share of parochial interests.  Any region or constituency can be fertile ground for creating dependency on the federal government, no matter how innately they are predisposition to hate the federal government.  It is not hard for a selfish politician to raise the specter of government involvement in a local interest and perpetuate the expectation that government will permanently foster that interest.

Nowhere is this phenomenon of red state dependency more evident than in the Agriculture community.  Farmers are naturally hard workers who believe in rugged individualism.  But self-centered politicians representing these districts have worked in tandem with local parochial interests to ensure that the people of some of our most conservative districts are only represented by supporters of big-government dependency and special-interest politics.  In order to secure an endless flow of farm subsidies (or energy subsidies), these politicians have often teamed up with other special interests in Congress to help grow all sectors of government.  Hence, we have some of the most conservative districts being represented by members who help promote the greatest common factor of all spending bills.

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The Snakes in the GOP Grass

Monday, February 4th, 2013 and is filed under Blog, Family Values, Immigration

Over the weekend, the New York Times reported that the power players at American Crossroads are financing a new group to help fund candidates in the primaries who oppose conservatives. In light of their smashing success electing candidates like Tommy Thompson, Rick Berg, Denny Rehberg, George Allen, Heather Wilson, and Linda Lingle, they will expand their roadshow into the primaries during the next election cycle in search of the next candidate who is indistinguishable from his/her Democrat opponent.

In an Orwellian attempt to obfuscate their agenda, they will be naming their PAC “the Conservative Victory Project.”  They will never tell you how they plan to achieve conservative victory without running conservative candidates.

As I solicit feedback from grassroots Republicans throughout the country in preparation for the 2014 elections, I’m struck by the deep sense of pain and disquiet that has penetrated the very core of our base.  They are witnessing a rogue regime that is dismantling every aspect of this country they love so dearly – one limb at a time.  They watch helplessly as a malevolent administration, which harbors no respect for our Founders and Constitution, works to destroy our free markets, saddles our children with incorrigible debt, infringes upon our liberties, assaults our family values, erases our borders, appeases our enemies, and abrogates the rule of law.  Hence, they see the demise of our Republic, with only feeble resistance to those engendering the decline.

The values of our party’s base – the values that have made this country what it is today – are being labeled extreme by those who seek to implement their extreme views.

Those of us who believe that the government doesn’t have the right to redistribute wealth are lampooned as greedy.

Those of us who seek to enforce our immigration laws are labeled as bigots.

Those of us who protest the ever officious government interventions into every aspect of our personal lives and businesses are ignored.

Those of us who don’t want our human rights violated at airports are considered rabble-rousers.

Those of us who want to retain our Second Amendment rights are being challenged by an administration that has abused firearms by selling them to drug cartels via an agency that was never brought to justice for Waco and Ruby Ridge.

Those of us who abide by the laws of the land – even those that are of dubious constitutionality – are helpless in preventing a rogue administration thwart the legal checks and balanced in its pursuit of an agenda that is foreign to our Republic.

Millions of Republican voters feel disenfranchised and voiceless as the pale-pastel figures in the party rise to the top levels of power.  All they want is one party that is willing to take a stand and articulate their values – values which were considered commonsense until recent years.

Over the past few election cycles, a number of us have worked hard to find those few but strong voices in the wilderness.  We have successfully elected people like Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, Rand Paul, and a number of congressmen who are committed to fighting for the values of our Republic.  Yet, the old power players within the party will not go silently.  They obdurately seek to quell any effort to restore the Republican Party as an effective voice for the values of our Republic.

Yes, it is not enough to merely nominate a conservative; we must also find candidates who are savvy, articulate, and have the organization to go the distance.  But the minute we choose a candidate who is not conservative, we lose the election before a single vote is cast.  Voters are attracted to a show of force and decisiveness; we will certainly never change hearts and minds if we nominate candidates who are indistinguishable from Democrats.

We are looking for one party that is willing to fight for the restoration of our Republic, not jettison every tenet of our Constitution under the false allurement of electoral success.  One by one, people like Karl Rove seek to crush another sacred belief of the conservative base.  All social issues? Gone. Enforcement before amnesty? No way.  Stay strong on taxes? Forget about it. Fight Obamacare? That’s a done deal.

Folks, we must win back the soul of the Republican Party before we can effect any positive change.  For my part, I’ll be working overtime through the Madison Project Majority PAC to leave no stone unturned in the pursuit of strong voices for liberty.  There are a number of other great conservative leaders, such as the Club for Growth and the Senate Conservatives Fund, who will do the same.

In this battle, we must distinguish friend from foe.  It is a battle we did not initiate, but it is one we must win.

Cross-posted at RedState.com

Maybe Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson Would Like to Retire

Monday, January 14th, 2013 and is filed under Blog, Issues

Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson embodies the ineffectiveness of the Republicans Party in promoting limited government.  He represents one of the most conservative states, yet he uses his position as one of the 12 appropriations “Cardinals” to block any effort to cut spending. Simpson is an ardent supporter of earmarks. He is also a big supporter of government-run healthcare, and refuses to cut even small programs like the National Endowment of the Arts and the National Endowment of the Humanities. He is a big purveyor of farm welfare, thereby entrapping residents of his red state into government dependency.

Simpson voted for every bailout under the sun. Simpson was one of only 16 Republicans to vote for the Simpson-Bowles tax increases.   And of course, he voted for the “fiscal cliff” tax hikes/stimulus bill.  He is also one of the few solid red state Republicans who is squishy on gun issues.

Now he is upset that there is a new kid on the block –  a member who actually stands for Republican values.  Raul Labrador, who represents Idaho’s first district, is a committed conservative, who in the view of Simpson, is irresponsible and losing credibility.  He decided to unload on his fellow Idahoan in an interview with the Idaho Statesman.

Maybe Mr. Simpson would like to explain how it is effective representation of a Republican district to vote for every last bailout, spending bill, and debt ceiling increase that has engendered this $16.4 trillion anti-free-market dependency state.

Maybe Mr. Simpson should listen carefully when the Constitution is read from the House floor this week so he can understand the proper role of the federal government.

Or maybe he’d like to retire and become a lobbyist, so we can have two Raul Labradors from Idaho.

If we continue to elect statists like this from places like Idaho, we’ll never succeed in reducing the size of government.

Boehner’s One-Sided Litmus Test

Thursday, December 6th, 2012 and is filed under Blog, Issues

Yesterday, John Boehner told his conference that he would be watching the voting records of particular members.  Those who don’t support his view of Democrat-lite as the party platform will be kicked off their respective committees – just like Huelskamp, Schweikert, and Amash were axed earlier this week.

Boehner and other members of leadership are repeating this mantra that the punishment of those members had nothing to do with “conservative ideology” rather with “voting records.”  However, they declined to divulge which votes they were referring to.  Presumably, they meant conservative opposition to the debt ceiling deal and some of the spending bills.

With that in mind, let’s engage in a cerebral exercise for a moment.  Assuming Boehner has any shred of respect for Republican ideology, we would expect him to banish members who vote to the left of leadership; members who vote with Democrats on key issues.  After all, if voting to the right of leadership is tantamount to unforgivable debauchery, voting with Democrats should be a cardinal sin.

Yet, we find the opposite to be true with Boehner’s selective pattern of retribution.  Huelskamp, Amash, and Schweikert were thrown off the Budget, Agriculture, and Financial Services committees; there are a number of leftists who voted against leadership but remain on the top 3 committees – Ways and Means, Energy & Commerce, and Appropriations.

Here are some good examples:

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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.

Jo Ann Emerson Retiring, Gives us Solid Pickup Opportunity

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

We don’t have to venture off deep into blue territory and knock off Democrats in order to pick up seats in the House and Senate.  In fact, there are many solid red seats, which are currently represented by moderate Republicans, and they are ripe for picking.

One of the most absurd misrepresentations in Congress is Jo Ann Emerson representing conservative southern Missouri – MO-8.

Emerson has the most liberal voting record in her state’s GOP delegation and has one of the most liberal records in the entire conference. She is a member of the RINO Republican Main Street Partnership, a co-founder of the Center Aisle Caucus, and the Chair of the Tuesday Group, a meeting of House liberal Republicans.

Emerson had a long history of liberalism long before this legislative session. She supports price and wage controls and every form of subsidy and bailout under the sun. She voted for No Child Left Behind, Medicare Part D, Sarbanes-Oxley, SCHIP, and TARP. She is a big-supporter of government-run healthcare, and even flirted with the idea of supporting Obamacare.

Her liberal voting record compared to her conservative district earns her a -44 on our Madison Performance Index.

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A Bunch of Squishes Chosen for the Super A House Committees

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

It’s not enough to merely elect conservatives to the House as rank-and-file members.  As we’ve seen the past few weeks, it’s all about getting the right people into leadership and important committee assignments.  Unfortunately, the roster of major committee chairmen is quite dismal, to say the least.  Worse yet, it appears that the top 3 ‘Super A’ domestic policy committees will once again be filled with squishes.

In 2011, the 3 most important committees – Ways and Means, Appropriations, and Energy & Commerce – had the lowest ratings from conservative organizations.

Committee

Heritage Action

Club for Growth

Freedom

Works

Madison Project

Appropriations

62.31

58

62

-23.95

Energy & Commerce

65.4

67.93

70.43

-16.58

Ways & Means

66.23

65.55

68.45

-15.45

T & I

66.58

67.55

68.70

-13.59

Ed & Workforce

67.57

68.17

68.83

-13.59

Armed Services

69.31

69.49

71.29

-12.92

Agriculture

70.54

71.31

72.12

-12.23

Financial Services

69.45

70.06

72.88

-10.33

Natural Resources

73.19

76.46

77.27

-9.65

Homeland Security

70.17

70.28

71.28

-9.58

Science & Tech

73.23

76.05

75.68

-9.23

Foreign Affairs

71.38

73.75

73.63

-7.88

Veterans Affairs

75.85

78.31

78.31

-5.5

Judiciary

77.32

81.81

80.14

-4.7

Budget

78.91

83.18

82.86

-3.3

Small Business

72.53

73.93

73.67

-2.97

Oversight & Gov Reform

78.39

81.96

79.96

-2

So are we going to improve headed into the 113th Congress?  Not likely.

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We Will Not Spend Money on Capito in WV

Monday, November 26th, 2012 and is filed under Blog, Issues

The establishment is agog with excitement over convincing Rep. Shelley Moore Capito to run against Senator Jay Rockefeller in 2014.  We will not participate.

We all agree that if there is no better conservative to challenge Rockefeller, then any Republican would be an improvement.  However, unless a viable alternative emerges, we will not be wasting resources on the race.  Moore Capito has spent her decade in Washington amassing one of the most liberal voting records in Washington of any House Republican. She supports mandates to require insurance coverage for preexisting conditions. It’s bad enough that she uses her powerful positions on the Transportation Committee and the Financial Services Committee to promulgate fiscally liberal policies; she is also a member of the Republican Main Street Partnership and Republicans for Choice.

To the extent that West Virginians have been pandered to on fiscal issues for years, there is no reason for West Virginia to elect a social liberal.  Moreover, I don’t think that West Virginians appreciate the auto bailouts and the Freddie and Fannie ongoing bailout.  There really is not much of a conservative record in Capito’s past.

Again, it’s unlikely that there is any bench from which to draw on for a conservative challenger, but we will not waste any time on her behalf either.  The more important thing is for us to find a conservative to fill her House seat.  West Virginia is one of the quickest trending red states in the country, yet there are few conservatives involved in state politics.  It’s time to harness the anti-Washington spirit that is endemic of the people in WV, and elect one conservative to the state’s delegation.  If you are aspiring to run for the seat or have any insights into the district, please feel free to pass on your ideas at daniel@madisonproject.com.

Saxby Chambliss’s Fuzzy Math

Monday, November 26th, 2012 and is filed under Blog, Debt, Taxes

Last Wednesday, speaking in reference to Grover Norquist’s tax pledge, Senator Saxby Chambliss revealed himself to be a big government statist.  Then again, we always knew that.

He told a local TV station that if we hold the line on the anti-tax pledge, “then we’ll continue in debt, and I just have a disagreement with him about that.”

This line of thought is emblematic of Republicans involved in the Gang of 6 or any other bipartisan gang.  It’s not that they feel we need to compromise on taxes in order to get spending cuts.  Democrats will never agree to legitimately downsize government in any compromise.  It’s that they fundamentally agree with the governing model that has led to annual budgets as large as $3.7 trillion.  They believe in the entitlement and welfare society; they believe in the Departments of Energy, Education, and HUD; they believe in a federal government that is unbridled by the Constitution.

To that end, big government Republicans like Chambliss believe that the only way we can balance the budget is by raising taxes.  Lindsey Graham is even more agog with glee over his part in the deal.  The irony is that even if we acceded to Obama’s tax increases, we would only bump up revenue by $84 billion per year.  Remember that the monthly deficit for October was $120 billion. Moreover, as all the high-tax states have proven, we would only recover that revenue the first year.  After that, the depressed economic growth would result in a revenue loss.

Saxby’s comments are quite instructive for conservatives as we confront a Republican Party that is committed to capitulation.  This imbroglio over the fiscal cliff was never about the budget – spending or revenue.  It is about the fundamental role of government in a Constitutional Republic that inherently restrains the size of government.  As such, even if raising taxes on the rich would be fair (it’s not; they already pay 37% of the income taxes), and even if it would be economically prudent; it is the wrong thing to do.  Any additional revenue would be used to grow the size of government at a time when it needs to be cut in half.  On this core issue, Republicans like Chambliss and Graham side with Democrats.  We side with the Constitution.

That’s why this has never been about Norquist and his tax pledge.  If Democrats would genuinely agree to a deal that would wind down the welfare and entitlement programs and eliminate full departments of the executive branch, conservatives would reluctantly go along with some form of revenue increases.  Raising taxes is unfair and counterintuitive, but if that is what it would take to get Democrats to come onboard with our efforts to shrink government, then it would be a deal worth making.

The real narrative here is that Democrats will never agree to downsize the budget in any consequential way.  And with Republicans like Saxby Chambliss, why should they?