I read the news online each morning and sometimes become inspired to post comments concerning certain of the articles I encounter. I recently got drawn into a discussion on the Lincoln Journal Star website about public employee unions and collective bargaining in Nebraska. A fellow who identifies himself as “World’s End” accused me of being a Libertarian. (For all of you Libertarians out there reading this, “accused” is the correct word choice. World’s End thought he was “outing” me because I had claimed in the thread to be a registered Republican.) He reached the conclusion I was a Libertarian after reading some of the articles at this website that he said had “harsh words” for the Republican Party. I replied:
“As for your comment that you can’t believe I’m a Republican because we have harsh words for Repubs over at the GiN website, I have to say I’m glad you noticed but, at the same time, I’m not surprised you think that’s unusual. It is unusual. Our primary motivation at GiN is principle, not party. I personally feel I have a lot more in common with Republicans politically than with Democrats, Independents, or even Libertarians, so I register Republican. But, if you want to understand why we tend to come down on the GOP so hard at GiN, I ask you: Who disappoints you the most when they don’t live up to your expectations, someone who says he’s your friend (with whom you thought you shared common beliefs and values) or a complete stranger?”
That being said, I’m sorry to say that two out of three of the Republican House members representing Nebraska have gone and done it again. They’ve disappointed me, BIG TIME. I’m talking about Representatives Lee Terry and Jeff Fortenberry.
The Heritage Foundation compiled all of the votes on the amendments to the government funding bill, HR-1, that proposed to cut non-security spending. Heritage excluded amendments that proposed to shift spending from one program to another or sought to block various Obama policies—whether it be the many amendments to defund Obamacare or turn off the EPA’s rule making authority, choosing to look solely at the unambiguous spending cuts to see how Congress and individual House members did.
If I graded their performance the same way I grade my students in the classes I teach, Rep. Terry would get a C-. Rep. Fortenberry would receive an F. Terry could bring himself to vote for only 71% of the spending cuts. Fortenberry could find it in himself to support only 43% of them.
Fortenberry, in particular, deserves darts for his habit of speaking as a fiscal conservative when he’s in Nebraska and voting to spend like a drunken sailor when he’s in Washington. I defy you to square this latest example of his voting record with these comments he made in a pre-election interview on a local radio station in late October or early November, 2010:
MACK: Congressman, do you think that Republicans and Democrats in Congress, do you think that they’ve gotten the message that people really are kind of tired of the politics as usual and are tired of, you know, government continuing to go into debt? Have they got the message?
FORTENBERRY: I think that to characterize the forthcoming election, if you — if it happens this way, as some sort of Republican wave would be incorrect. I think that this is a wave of American sentiment against the system that needs to become more transparent, more accountable, and, frankly, there needs to be bold, authentic leadership that is willing to make hard decisions as to how we get the fiscal house in order, return to some of our most cherished traditions, and have the federal government go back to its rightful place in the basic things that it can and must do very well. I think that’s what the American people are very, very clearly saying. I think that message has come through loud and clear —
MACK: Yeah, ’cause —
FORTENBERRY: — and I think you can see it reflected.
MACK: I don’t think that, as we go through this cycle and probably change power from Democrat to Republicans, I think people don’t want the Republicans, then, to go in and just continue to spend and spend and spend like the money grew — grows on trees, right?
FORTENBERRY: Well, look, the fed- — The size of federal government has, basically, doubled in the last 10 years. Now, it’s accelerated exponentially in the last two, but it has been growing steadily. And I — Most families in America are living with the same amount of income they’ve had for the last couple of years or less, and, yet, the government has grown enormously. And forty — About forty cents on every dollar that’s being spent is actually borrowed. Now, you can’t do that in your family very long. A business can’t do that in the fa- — in their operations for very long. But the government can do it, because it has a very large credit card, and it can hide the consequences of pushing future taxes on the children or selling the assets of the country overseas to China and other places, or creating inflationary effects, which are all long-term problems for economic viability. So, now is the time where serious leadership is needed to call the American people forth and say, “We must tighten the belt. We must get the fiscal house in order.” And we’re going to have to have an authentic policy discussion as to how we do that and call for some shared sacrifice. If we do that —
MACK: If you’re — If you’re re-elected, are you planning on trying to help lead that charge and, if so, how?
FORTENBERRY: Well, I think we’ve been a part of that all along. There’s been — Budgets are one thing, but budgets are divided up into appropriations bills. Some of those I’ve supported. Some of them I haven’t. Just a few short years ago, I voted for something called a deficit reduction bill, which was $25 billion, and that’s hardly anything now compared to the level of debt we have. But it was very difficult to vote on that, given the amount of push-back that came from persons concerned about the government funds that were being reduced. So, this is the message that we have to continue to put out there. Our long-term economic viability and, frankly, national security is at stake here. And, until we get the fiscal house in order, I don’t think the economy is actually going to rebound as quickly as it should, because it’s creating a great deal of uncertainty as to what government is doing, in terms of indebtedness and regulation. And that’s going to be the first order of business.
Fortenberry’s “leading the charge” all right, but someone should tell him he’s headed toward the wrong goal post. Oh, I guess I just did.
Bartender’s Note: We may need to get Rep. Fortenberry his own dartboard here at the GiN Joint…he’s using up all of our darts…
Thank you to Michael from the Omaha 9/12 for sharing the graphic!