Politics & Policy

Keep the Pressure on Democrats

Rep. Tom McClintock (R., Calif.)
House Republicans should schedule daily votes on bills that force Democrats to reveal their priorities.

Representative Tom McClintock (R., Calif.) has a modest proposal for the House GOP leadership: Keep Democrats constantly astride the horns of a dilemma.

“We have seen several major pieces of legislation reported to the House floor, such as the Violence Against Women Act [VAWA], that divide Republicans while they unite Democrats,” McClintock tells me, “and a minority of Republican votes join with the Democrats to pass these measures, in a House that the Republicans are supposed to manage. Just thinking out loud here — maybe while we still have a Republican majority in the House, we ought to put up measures that unite Republicans around Republican principles and force the Democrats to explain their positions to voters.”

House speaker John Boehner repeatedly has violated former GOP speaker J. Dennis Hastert’s rule that legislation must pass the House with at least a majority of the Republican majority. The tax-raising fiscal-cliff deal, the pork-filled Hurricane Sandy relief bill, and the warmly named but problematic VAWA all were adopted with nearly unanimous Democratic support and a minority of GOP votes.

#ad#McClintock argues that his approach “would bring to the public’s attention the enormous amount of their money that’s being wasted by this government.” He has proposed such steps to the House GOP leadership “in several conference meetings,” he says. And what was the response? “Everybody nods, and nothing happens.” McClintock concludes: “The Republican majority is being squandered.”

This is no way to run a Republican legislative chamber, especially when the Washington Post reports that Obama thirsts to crush the House’s GOP majority and, during his final two years, reinstate California Democrat Nancy Pelosi as speaker for one last left-wing waltz.

Boehner should follow McClintock’s strategy and schedule daily, stand-alone votes that rally Republicans and let Democrats demonstrate whether they truly stand with the downtrodden or with the prosperous.

‐ As the sequester started, for instance, Representative Louie Gohmert (R., Texas) offered a brilliant idea: No federal funding for Obama’s 116th golf junket until he restores public tours of the White House. (The March 13 Washington Post compared Obama’s cancellation of these tours to “bureaucratic hostage taking.”) Despite applause for Gohmert’s amendment, Boehner scotched it. Pitiful.

So, the question should come before the House. In a separate, individual vote — rather than within a major bill that Democrats might oppose on a party-line basis — Pelosi, Maryland’s Steny Hoyer, California’s Maxine Waters, New York’s Charles Rangel, and their Democratic colleagues should decide: Would they rather spend tax dollars to whisk Obama to country clubs or to reopen the Executive Mansion to Boy Scouts, Campfire Girls, and other children who washed cars and sold cookies to fund their now-impossible White House visits?

‐ As the Heritage Foundation’s James Sherk estimates, taxpayers could save some $11 billion annually by repealing the Davis-Bacon Act. It requires Washington to pay union-driven “prevailing wages” on federally funded construction projects, which are, on average, 22 percent higher than market-driven wages. Why not scrap this lavish law and devote half the savings to debt reduction and the other half to assist disabled children who live below the poverty line? Force Democrats to choose between construction-union bosses, who pay their campaign bills, and disadvantaged kids, whom they say they represent.

#page#‐ As the Cato Institute’s Chris Edwards calculates, federal civilian employees enjoyed an average of $128,226 in total wages and benefits in 2011, versus $64,560 for the typical private-sector taxpayers who underwrite their paychecks. To practice the “shared sacrifice” that Obama preaches, cut their compensation by 10 percent. This $12,822 in savings per government employee would finance medical assistance for wounded warriors from Iraq and Afghanistan. Force Democrats to choose between overpaid federal bureaucrats and the military heroes whom they claim to support.

‐ The Office of Personnel Management found that in 2011, 1,202,733 unionized federal employees spent 3,395,187 hours on union business “when the employee would otherwise be in a duty status.” In other words, during this so-called “official time,” federal staffers neglected the responsibilities they were hired to do and worked for Big Labor, rather than the American people. This cost taxpayers $155,573,739 — 11.85 percent more than what Washington spent on this outrage in 2010.

#ad#The House should kill “official time” and split the savings: Half to the Treasury, to reduce the $16.7 trillion national debt, and half to the Centers for Disease Control, to discover new HIV/AIDS treatments and create an AIDS vaccine. Make Democrats pick between their pals in the government-employee unions and the AIDS patients whom they say they love.

‐ Obama’s entire “green jobs” initiative is a laughable fraud. The Department of Energy boasts that it has shelled out $34.5 billion in loans and guarantees to produce 60,000 such positions. That adds up to $575,000 per green job created. Platinum job is more like it.

While Solyndra’s $570 million in squandered taxpayer cash epitomizes this problem, that defunct solar-panel maker is only one of 19 different companies that rest in peace within the Heritage Foundation’s Green Energy Graveyard. They collectively converted at least $2.6 billion in taxpayer money into ashes.

For instance, in spite of Obama’s $142 million grant, LG Chem never ramped up production of its flawed batteries for electric cars. As Ryan Tracy explained in the Wall Street Journal last February 14:

To avoid layoffs at the factory, LG Chem paid idle workers $1.6 million in the third quarter of last year, about half of which was covered by its U.S. grant, even though there was nothing for them to do. The workers played board games, watched movies, and volunteered at local animal shelters during regular work hours.

The House GOP should vote to defund Obama’s entire green-power fantasy land. Half the savings should go to national-debt reduction, and the other half should help fund the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. Let Democrats make up their minds: More money for well-heeled green-power executives or more money to help Grandpa heat his studio apartment in the dead of winter. 

House Republicans thus should give Democrats daily opportunities either to do the right thing . . . or paint themselves into a corner where their choices will expose the hollowness of their slogans.

— Deroy Murdock is a Fox News contributor, a nationally syndicated columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service, and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace at Stanford University.

Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor and a contributing editor of National Review Online, and a senior fellow with the London Center for Policy Research.

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