Tea Party frosh want cuts for you, bucks for their districts (Plus, the GOP serves two masters)

Jaime Herrera Beutler is among the tea party freshmen voting for budget cuts, then trolling for money for their districts.

Even a tea partyer knows you don’t get re-elected by denying your hometown money to build roads and bridges.

And so, tea party freshmen are screaming for a government shut down if they don’t see “major cuts,” while seeking to keep those cuts away from their own districts.

From the New York Times:

WASHINGTON — As a candidate, Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler denounced stimulus spending and voted for a Republican budget bill that would make $61 billion in cuts to a vast array of programs this year.

Government overspending is out of control, she said recently in the weekly Republican address, and must be stopped. But perhaps not in her home state, Washington.

There, the Port of Vancouver had been waiting for a $10 million grant, one modeled on a popular program in the stimulus bill. But the money was rescinded in the Republican spending bill, known as H.R. 1, that passed the House in February but was later defeated in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Port officials appealed to Ms. Herrera Beutler, one of 87 freshman Republicans in the House. She agreed to work on the port’s behalf to make sure it got its money before any cuts to the grant program went into effect. The outcome remains unknown.

“We were very concerned,” said Theresa Wagner, a spokeswoman for the port, which is set to use the money for a rail project. “Our rail project is incredibly important to us and is our link to additional private investment.”

Ms. Herrera Beutler, Ms. Wagner said, has been “incredibly receptive” to their concerns.

Ms. Herrera Beutler’s spokesman said the project in her district was small relative to total government spending.

“We’re talking about $10 million out of a more than $1 trillion bill,” said the spokesman, Casey Bowman. “There are likely other small cuts made in H.R. 1 that she didn’t fully agree with but she voted to cut spending over all because, as economists have said, cutting federal spending will help economic recovery.”

While scores of congressmen and women are singing an ode to spending reductions with their Republican choir in Washington, back home, the tune sometimes changes.

In town-hall-style meetings and in interviews with local news media in recent weeks, some Republican members have been backing away from the cuts made in various spending bills passed by the House. In some cases, they are trying to circumvent the very cuts they voted for. …

Well I’ll be damned. Steve Israel? Your witness:

“You cannot vote to cut veterans’ benefits in Washington and then go pose for pictures with veterans back in the district,” said Representative Steve Israel, who runs the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “There is a pattern of duplicity here, and we’re going to make sure it comes back to haunt them.”

“Pattern” may be an overstatement, but there are several examples of members’ voting for cuts that they then deplore. Representative Bobby Schilling voted against rail financing for his district in Illinois, and later said that he did so only because he knew that the Senate would not sign off on the cut.

The Republican spending bill made large cuts to the Department of Energy, “regardless of mission,” and including the National Nuclear Security Administration. Several Republicans, including Representative Michael R. Turner of Ohio, wrote to Representative Paul D. Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin and chairman of the House Budget Committee, seeking to restore money for the agency.

“Congressman Turner voted in favor of H.R. 1 as it was the beginning of a longer conversation on how our nation is to proceed with its finances,” said his spokesman, Thomas Crosson. “In the time since, Congressman Turner has spoken with Chairman Ryan and leadership to stress the importance of N.N.S.A. funding, and its implications for our national security.”

There’s more where that came from. Read it here.

Meanwhile, despite Democratic defections, the Senate beats back GOP attempts to block the EPA from trying to limit climate change.

Nick Kristoff says if the government is shut down, Congress shouldn’t get paid (since members of the military, federal prison wardens and perhaps 800,000 government employees wouldn’t get their checks.)

President Obama says a shutdown would be inexcusable.

And John Boehner must might be the weakest House speaker in history. He is also a man serving two masters, as is his party. The right wing Washington Examiner’s senior political columnist Tim Carney explains:

the Left’s storyline leaves out a crucial player in the fight: the business lobby. Business is so dependent on government that it has been reassuring Democrats that it wants to avert a shutdown and fiercely lobbying Republicans to strike a compromise.

Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donahue twisted the arms of GOP lawmakers this week and then met with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Dow Jones Newswires quoted Reid saying that Donahue “told more than 100 Republicans yesterday at an event that they were making a huge mistake shutting down the government.” Business Roundtable head John Engler personally lectured Boehner on keeping government running for the sake of government contractors.

It’s yet another battle in the bailout-sparked war for the soul of the GOP. Tea Party groups are pulling Republicans toward austerity, while the business lobby is either ambivalent or opposed to spending cuts.

The chamber’s role as a counterpoint to the Tea Party has always presented a potential rhetorical problem for Democrats. The White House tried to make the 2010 elections about Republican coziness to the chamber and other corporate lobbyists, while today business interests are aligned with the White House.

The contradiction stems from the divergent agendas of the Tea Partiers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The chamber supported Troubled Asset Relief Program, stimulus, cash for clunkers, green subsidies, and Obama’s proposed new infrastructure spending — all of which The Tea Part opposed.

Government contractors have been vocal in their fear of a shutdown. An executive at Army contractor Belzon in Huntsville, Ala., told a local reporter, “We will start losing money on day one” of a shutdown. While federal workers are compensated for wages lost during a shutdown, contractors’ employees are not. Back in February, the Professional Services Council gathered hundreds of government contractors to come up with a strategy to deal with a shutdown.

These worries resonate with Boehner, who said last week, “Let’s all be honest, if you shut the government down, it’ll end up costing more than you save, because you interrupt contracts.” Also, some pending contracts have been delayed amid recent uncertainty about shutdowns.

But a shutdown could hurt even those businesses for whom government isn’t the customer. Commerce Department trade missions, Energy Department loan guarantee programs, and all sorts of other business subsidies could be foiled if appropriations expire this weekend.

Republicans also know they are likely to lose the public relations battle. Even though this debate is about passing appropriations bills that Democrats simply shirked when they controlled the whole process before January, the media and the public are likely to blame a shutdown on the GOP. The PR fears combine with business pressure to weaken the hand of the spending cutters.

This demonstrates two points that should trouble anyone who shares the Republicans’ professed belief in limited government. First, there is no powerful Washington constituency for serious spending cuts. Tax cuts and deregulation have their powerful champions, but federal frugality offers no concentrated benefits. This is part of why the GOP managed to cut taxes last decade while boosting spending. …

As Carney puts it, the Republican Party is caught between two masters — one who has money, and the other who has votes. Corporations pump money into the tea party movement and whips them into an increasingly tiny frenzy periodically to keep up the ruse that masses of Americans want their lungs filled with coal dust and their shores blackened by oil, and because let’s face it — they’re convenient at election time. But they don’t really want them in the room making decisions, because they understand that many of them are nuts (or underinformed zealots who have no clue what their “ideas” would actually do to real people.) And John Boehner is running out of time to man up and explain to the baggies which master is the one he ultimately puts first. Spoiler alert: it’s gonna be big business.


More fun with Gopers: Darrell Issa says his staff is essential! Can’t let them go in a shutdown!

And the new NBC/WSJ poll says independent voters want compromise. And most voters would indeed blame the GOP for a shutdown (though I still think one won’t happen, because the politics for Republicans are way too toxic.)

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4 Responses to Tea Party frosh want cuts for you, bucks for their districts (Plus, the GOP serves two masters)

  1. One person's pork is another person's bacon. I find her amusing.

  2. Allan says:

    Pay close attention to the diverging interests of big business and the Tea Party. This is a wedge the Democrats can drive home.

    Dems, keep emphasizing that the corporations who own the GOP actually agree more with Obama than they ever let on. Keep pointing out to Tea Partiers that their voices are being ignored by the GOP in favor of big business.

    By 2012, the Tea Partiers should be ready to go third party and split the GOP base at the ballot box, if we keep hammering on this wedge.

  3. From your lips to the Flying Spaghetti Monster’s noodly ears, Allan.

  4. Pingback: The Turner Report – Gossip from the Hill « The Communicator

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