Tag Archives: Earmarks

Fact check: Mitt Romney’s claim that Rick Santorum was a big spender

The Weekly Standard evaluates Mitt Romney’s claim that Rick Santorum is fiscally liberal. (H/T Shane)

Excerpt:

The National Taxpayers Union (NTU) has been rating members of Congress for 20 years.  NTU is an independent, non-partisan organization that — per its mission statement — “mobilizes elected officials and the general public on behalf of tax relief and reform, lower and less wasteful spending, individual liberty, and free enterprise.”  Steve Forbes serves on its board of directors.

For each session of Congress, NTU scores each member on an A-to-F scale.  NTU weights members’ votes based on those votes’ perceived effect on both the immediate and future size of the federal budget.  Those who get A’s are among “the strongest supporters of responsible tax and spending policies”; they receive NTU’s “Taxpayers’ Friend Award.”  B’s are “good” scores, C’s are “minimally acceptable” scores, D’s are “poor” scores, and F’s earn their recipients membership in the “Big Spender” category.  There is no grade inflation whatsoever, as we shall see.

NTU’s scoring paints a radically different picture of Santorum’s 12-year tenure in the Senate (1995 through 2006) than one would glean from the rhetoric of the Romney campaign.  Fifty senators served throughout Santorum’s two terms:  25 Republicans, 24 Democrats, and 1 Republican/Independent.  On a 4-point scale (awarding 4 for an A, 3.3 for a B+, 3 for a B, 2.7 for a B-, etc.), those 50 senators’ collective grade point average (GPA) across the 12 years was 1.69 — which amounts to a C-.  Meanwhile, Santorum’s GPA was 3.66 — or an A-.  Santorum’s GPA placed him in the top 10 percent of senators, as he ranked 5th out of 50.

Across the 12 years in question, only 6 of the 50 senators got A’s in more than half the years.  Santorum was one of them.  He was also one of only 7 senators who never got less than a B.  (Jim Talent served only during Santorum’s final four years, but he always got less than a B, earning a B- every year and a GPA of 2.7.)  Moreover, while much of the Republican party lost its fiscal footing after George W. Bush took office — although it would be erroneous to say that the Republicans were nearly as profligate as the Democrats — Santorum was the only senator who got A’s in every year of Bush’s first term.  None of the other 49 senators could match Santorum’s 4.0 GPA over that span.

This much alone would paint an impressive portrait of fiscal conservatism on Santorum’s part.  Yet it doesn’t even take into account a crucial point:  Santorum was representing Pennsylvania.

Based on how each state voted in the three presidential elections over that period (1996, 2000, and 2004), nearly two-thirds of senators represented states that were to the right of Pennsylvania.  In those three presidential elections, Pennsylvania was, on average, 3 points to the left of the nation as a whole.  Pennsylvanians backed the Democratic presidential nominee each time, while the nation as a whole chose the Republican in two out of three contests.

Among the roughly one-third of senators (18 out of 50) who represented states that — based on this measure — were at least as far to the left as Pennsylvania, Santorum was the most fiscally conservative.  Even more telling was the canyon between him and the rest.  After Santorum’s overall 3.66 GPA, the runner-up GPA among this group was 2.07, registered by Olympia Snowe (R., Maine).  Arlen Specter, Santorum’s fellow Pennsylvania Republican, was next, with a GPA of 1.98.  The average GPA among senators who represented states at least as far left as Pennsylvania was 0.52 — or barely a D-.

But Santorum also crushed the senators in the other states.  Those 32 senators, representing states that on average were 16 points to the right of Pennsylvania in the presidential elections, had an average GPA of 2.35 — a C+.

In fact, considering the state he was representing, one could certainly make the case that Santorum was the most fiscally conservative senator during his tenure.  The only four senators whose GPAs beat Santorum’s represented states that were 2 points (Republican Judd Gregg of New Hampshire), 10 points (Republican Jon Kyl of Arizona), 25 points (Republican James Inhofe of Oklahoma), and 36 points (Republican Craig Thomas of Wyoming) to the right of Pennsylvania in the presidential elections.  Moreover, of these four, only Kyl (with a GPA of 3.94) beat Santorum by as much as a tenth of a point.  It’s an open question whether a 3.94 from Arizona is more impressive than a 3.66 from Pennsylvania.

Do you know who is a big tax and spend fiscal liberal, though? MITT ROMNEY.

So, why is liberal Mitt Romney telling lies about conservative Rick Santorum?

New national Rasmussen poll: Santorum leads Romney 39-27

From Newsmax. (H/T Doug)

Excerpt:

Building on his triple play of victories in Minnesota, Colorado and Missouri, former Sen. Rick Santorum has now surged to a 12-point lead over Mitt Romney in the race for the GOP presidential nomination heading into a key battle in Romney’s home state of Michigan.

Political analyst and Democratic pollster Doug Schoen tells Newsmax that Romney’s presidential bid is in “deep trouble” and his campaign badly needs a win in the Great Lakes State before heading into the do-or-die Super Tuesday contests on March 6, where voters in 10 states will pick their candidate to become the GOP presidential nominee.

“Romney is in deep trouble. He’s out of arguments. People don’t buy the central premise of his candidacy that he’s a businessman who can get things moving again,” Schoen said in an exclusive interview on Wednesday. “He’s entirely negative — whether it’s about President Obama, Newt Gingrich and now Rick Santorum. And Rick Santorum’s ad basically sums up the case against Mitt Romney: He’s a serial attacker who offers nothing other than negative ads, super PACs, bundlers and special interest money. It’s a recipe for failure.”

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of likely Republican primary voters released on Wednesday shows Santorum leading with 39 percent support, compared with 27 percent for Romney nationwide.

The two latest polls in Michigan, a state where Mitt Romney grew up and where his father was governor, show Rick Santorum with a 10 point lead and a 9 point lead.

Mitt Romney

Rick Santorum

Democrats plan to block Republicans from banning earmarks

From Fox News: Republicans support a ban on earmarks.

Excerpt:

In a remarkable turnabout, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell shifted gears from fighting a two-year moratorium on earmarks to whole-heartedly embracing it. A long time member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and defender of pet project spending, McConnell said he simply could not ignore the will of the American people any longer and said it was time for him to “lead first by example.”

The leader repeated a criticism he has lodged in recent weeks against the ban, authored in the Senate by Tea Party favorite Sen. Jim DeMint, R-SC, that it was “small or even symbolic” action, but McConnell said Monday, “There is simply no doubt that the abuse of this practice has caused Americans to view it as the symbol of the waste and out of control spending that every Republican in Washington is determined to fight.”

“Right now we’ve got over 500 congressmen and senators who are in Washington who think it’s their job to bring home the bacon. And that takes your eye off the ball. I mean, we’re not working on important national issues when we’re trying to pave a local parking lot,” DeMint told Fox News Sunday’s Chris Wallace.

[…]The action by McConnell avoids a major split within his party, while not conceding much, and puts the leader squarely on the side of the powerful, grassroots Tea Party movement.

[…]”With Republicans in Congress now united, it’s now up to President,” McConnell chided in a Senate floor speech. “We have said we are willing to give up discretion. Now we’ll see how he handles spending decisions. And if the president ends up with total discretion over spending, we will see more clearly where his priorities lie.”

From Fox News: Democrats oppose a ban on earmarks.

Excerpt:

Jim Manley, spokesman for Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., released a statement saying, “It is up to each Senator whether or not they will support Congressionally directed funding to their state. From delivering $100 million in military projects for Nevada to funding education and public transportation projects in the state, Sen. Reid makes no apologies for delivering for the people of Nevada. He will always fight to ensure the state’s needs are met.”

[…]Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., a senior member of the spending panel indicated Monday he would not support the ban…

The House Republicans are, of course, strongly in favor of a ban on earmarks. They are a little more conservative than the Republicans in the Senate.

How strong are Democrats on ethical issues?

Meanwhile, Democrat Charlie Rangel was convicted on 11 counts of violating ethics rules. (The Other McCain via Neil Simpson’s latest round-up)

Excerpt:

Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), once one of the most powerful members of the House, was convicted Tuesday on 11 counts of violating ethics rules and now faces punishment.

Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), the chairwoman of the adjudicatory subcommittee and the full House ethics committee, announced the decision late Tuesday morning following an abbreviated public trial and nearly six hours of deliberations.

But Rangel, 80, is certainly not expected to lose his job…. in the lame-duck session, Democrats still hold the majority.

[…]The adjudicatory panel, which operated as a jury of his peers, found that Rangel had used House stationery and staff to solicit money for a school of public policy in his name at the City College of New York. It also concluded that he solicited donors for the center with interests before the Ways and Means Committee. Members of Congress are allowed to solicit money for nonprofit entities — even those bearing their names — as long as they do not use congressional letterhead or office resources to do so.

The ethics panel split 4-4 on a charge that Rangel violated the gift ban because the plans for the center included an office and the archiving of his personal and professional papers.

The panel also found Rangel guilty of using an apartment in Harlem zoned for residential use as his campaign office, failing to report more than $600,000 on his financial disclosure report and failing to pay taxes on rental income from a villa he owns in the Dominican Republic.

Two counts charging him with improper use of the Congress’s free franked-mail privilege were combined into one.

It’s not hard to see which party is in favor of transparency and accountability, is it?

Can Michele Bachmann give the mid-term voters what they want?

Michele Bachmann

Well, this left-wing Washington Post article explains what the mid-term voters voted for when they elected so many Republicans. (H/T ECM)

Excerpt:

Americans’ agenda is simple. In broad terms, they want the government to spur job growth, but not by subsidizing more government jobs with taxpayer dollars. They want Washington to balance the budget and reverse the growing influence of government on daily life. They want the government to encourage success, allow failure, punish those who break the law – and then get out of the way. And above all, they want politicians to follow through on their promises, even if that means tempering those promises in the first place.

They also show clear support for the following five ideas:

  1. Balance the budget as quickly as possible through meaningful spending reductions, a hard spending cap and a constitutional amendment so that it never gets unbalanced again.
  2. Eliminate all earmarks until the budget is balanced, then require a two-thirds vote by Congress for future earmark legislation.
  3. Keep taxes down by requiring supermajorities for increases, and eventually enact tax reform with a simple, low, fair rate that drastically reduces the length of the IRS code.
  4. Create a blue-ribbon task force that engages in a complete, line-by-line forensic audit of federal agencies and programs to end waste and reduce red tape and bureaucracy.
  5. And require Congress to provide specific constitutional authorization for every bill it passes so that the government stays within the boundaries imagined by the founders.

One more thing: Voters want their representatives home in their districts and holding monthly town halls. The worst strategic mistake House Democrats made this year was canceling scores of public meetings, denying their constituents the chance to be heard. Hell hath no fury like a voter silenced, so the voters spoke in unison on Election Day.

I’ve found that each of these policies has at least 60 percent public support, so if you agree with most of them, it means you’re in the American mainstream. It also means that – wait for it – you agree with the tea party.

These points come directly from the tea-party-backed “Contract From America,” a document compiled from and voted on by the various tea party organizations and promoted by FreedomWorks, a conservative advocacy group. This governing agenda is supported not only by conservatives, but also by largely nonideological, anti-political voters in the middle.

Now let’s see what Michele has to say about it:

You can see a much sharper version of the video at Gateway Pundit.

France, Germany and Italy warn G20 nations against Obammunism

I was browsing over at the Anchoress and I found some very interesting links in her link-filled post here. She runs a blog that features a mix of Catholic-oriented reflections and a conservative perspective on the news of the day.

Here’s the part of her post that caught my attention:

Not good: First Putin told him not to, now France and Germany. Boy, didn’t the left HATE when Bush was this stubborn and set on his own way? And he didn’t listen to other countries? I seem to remember the left really, really hating that. About Bush. They hated these things too. When Bush did them.

Here is the warning from France and Germany from the Financial Times, via American Thinker:

Disagreements between the European Union and the US over how to combat the global recession widened on Tuesday as EU governments made clear they had little appetite for piling up more debt to fight the collapse in output and jobs.

Finance ministers from the 27-nation bloc insisted in Brussels that it was doing enough to support world demand and did not need at present to adopt another fiscal stimulus plan, as Washington is urging.

The US-European differences are casting a shadow over next month’s summit in London of leaders from the G20 group of advanced and emerging economies, an event to be attended by Barack Obama on his first visit to Europe as US president.

It’s true that France, Germany and Italy have all elected conservative leaders recently, (along with Japan, Canada, the Czech Republic and Mexico). I thought that these European socialist countries were to the left of the USA. Are we now to the left of France, Germany and Italy?

You might remember that I posted recently about former-communist Russia warning Obama about the dangers of socialism. Former-communist China also warned Obama to stimulate the economy with tax cuts, not spending. Instead, Obama raised taxes and spent trillions.

Canada, Japan and Mexico also elected conservatives governments. Why can’t we be more like them? Why do we have to embrace Obama’s unilateral, cowboy-communism? Why must Obama anger the world with unpopular economic policies that fail the “global test”? Why does Obama make the world hate us?

John Boehner calls for Congress to freeze spending at current levels

House Republican Leader John Boehner
House Republican Leader John Boehner

House Republican Leader John Boehner calls for an immediate spending freeze at current levels. The freeze would cancel the 900 earmarks in the 410 billion dollar porkulus-2 omnibus bill. The video of his speech is below, and you need to watch it right now. Please.

Excerpt from John Boehner’s speech on the floor of the House of Representatives:

I know there are a lot of members that have a lot of other issues that they’d like to include in this, but the fact is that American families are hurting, small businesses are hurting around the country, our economy is hurting. And I think we could help our economy, we could send a strong signal to the American people by extending this spending freeze through September 30.

“Let’s show the American taxpayers that we get it. Let’s show investors in our American economy that we get it. Because clearly the bill that’s been under consideration both here in the House and now in the Senate has a $30 billion increase over last year’s spending, and includes nearly 9,000 earmarks. And the way to put all of this to a stop is to just have a spending freeze. Let’s show the American people we understand the pain they are under and show them that we are willing to tighten our belt.

Boehner was not content to give mere talk. He tried to force a vote on the freeze in order to get the Democrats to go on record on the 1.75 trillion dollar deficit they’ve introduced. The story is here, and includes this quote from the Associated Press:

“The top Republican in the House is seizing on the latest spike in unemployment to call for a freeze on government spending and to urge President Barack Obama to veto a $410 billion spending bill.”

“Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, said the jump in unemployment to 8.1 percent and the loss of 651,000 jobs in February is a sign of a worsening recession that demands better solutions from both parties.”

“Boehner criticized the spending bill as chocked full of wasteful, pork-barrel projects. The Senate postponed a vote on the bill until Monday amid the criticism.”

“Boehner said he hoped Obama would veto the bill. He urged the president to work with House Republicans to impose a spending freeze until the end of this fiscal year.”

Who gets it? The House Republicans get it.

UPDATE: Michelle Malkin is reporting (via Connie Hair of Human Events) that the motion failed 160-218, with every Republican present voting for it.