Republicans on Probation: First Report

So, Nancy Pelosi remains the face of the House Democratic Party after losing the majority and her Speakership in the worst drubbing at the polls that House Democrats have experienced in 64 years.  Republicans couldn’t ask for more.

Harry Reid likewise remains the face of Senate Democrats, reduced to pandering to leftist pressure groups by promising lame duck session bills that will not pass (DREAM Act), refusing to follow Senate Republicans in banning earmarks, and creating even more uncertainty in the economy by dithering on extending the current tax rates.

Pelosi and Reid—a business-as-usual pair of “leaders” stubbornly tone deaf to voters’ concerns and blind to the reality of the approaching insolvency of the federal government.

Will the new Republican majority in the House step up to fulfill the rhetoric that convinced voters to give the Republicans another chance?

Congressional Republicans also retained the same leaders, McConnell in the Senate, and Boehner in the House. The same leaders of the Bush Republican Party majority that expanded the government, added new entitlements, and ballooned the national debt.  They promise to do better this time.

Other early signs are not promising.

The next order of business will be to appoint House Committee Chairs and committee members.

All spending bills must originate in the House.  Voters are demanding that fiscal conservatives get control of federal spending, which means controlling the powerful Appropriations Committee through which all spending bills must pass.

So why are Tea Party insurgents turning down invitations to join this Committee?

Conservative favorites Michele Bachmann (R–Minn), Steve King (R–Iowa), Lynn Westmoreland (R–GA), and Jim Jordan (R–Ohio) have all turned down invitations from the leadership to join Appropriations.

What gives?  If you want to cut spending, this is THE Committee to join.

Jack Kingston (R–GA) is campaigning to Chair Appropriations but knows that cutting spending on a Committee used to increasing spending is not going to be easy.  Kingston told Politico, “Anybody who’s a Republican (on the Committee) come June, is going to be accused of hating seniors, hating education, hating children, hating clean air and probably hating the military and farmers too.”

While other conservatives are interested in serving on Appropriations—Jeff Flake, Jason Chaffetz, and Tom Latham, among others—it will take many more conservatives with media savvy and grass-roots firepower to actually reduce federal spending.

Michele Bachmann.  We’ve heard the speeches.  Now you have the opportunity of your lifetime to actually accomplish what you’ve called for: it’s time to man up.

One of the many delightful results of the November 2 election is that Barney Frank will no longer Chair the House Financial Services Committee. 

As ranking member in the early 2000s and then Chairman after 2006, Frank was one of the leaders of the campaign to extend home ownership to all—even to those who could not afford to make the payments on those “no-down, no-doc” loans backed by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.  He’s not too proud of this record now that the real estate bubble burst and taxpayers are on the hook, but for many years, Frank was the champion of the “affordable” American dream of home ownership.

The Republican next in line to Chair the Committee may be little better.  Spencer Bachus (R–Ala) as a member of this Committee voted against any attempt to rein in Freddie or Fannie.  Bachus received more campaign contributions from Fannie and Freddie executives from 1989 to 2008 than any other member of the House, including Barney Frank.

Today, Bachus claims to be a born again reformer.  Conservative observers worry that he is too much a part of the heritage of government mortgage subsidies gone wrong.  Many remember how Barney Frank (who will still sit on the Committee as the ranking Democrat member) dominated Republican Chairman Michael Oxley during the last Republican-controlled House.

The Chair of Financial Services is critical to a much-needed effort to dismantle and sell off the Frankenstein twins Fannie and Freddie. 

What say you, John Boehner?  Seniority or leadership?  Go along to get along, or get reform? You decide.

In another key Chairmanship decision, Fred Upton (R–Mich) has the seniority to assume the Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which could be the forum for dismantling the “Department of Energy”, a bloated scandal that has never produced a drop of oil or a kilowatt of electricity after 32 years and billions wasted.

Upton is the wrong choice.  He co-sponsored (with Jane Harman (D–CA)) the infamous ban on incandescent light bulbs, which closed U.S. plants, shipped jobs to China, and saddled the U.S. consumer with the much more expensive Compact Fluorescent Lamp (CFL).

Again, the choice will be made by Speaker-to-be John Boehner.  Mr. Speaker, will your rhetoric of returning the federal government to its constitutional moorings translate into a Chair who will fight the powerful forces defending the indefensible “Energy Department”?

These are just examples of the many key decisions that will determine whether Republicans can deliver on their promises over the next two years.

These examples are also a wakeup call to Americans who thought the election was the end.  It was only the beginning.  We now know that we will not restore a Constitutional government, an opportunity society, or a free-market economy leading the world in job creation if we leave these decisions to the politicians.

Citizenship these days is a full-time job for all of us.