Justin Amash: GOP Leaders "Are Willing to Take Really Bad Deals to Avoid any Defense Cuts"

More on the apparent purge of Republicans who show any signs of seriousness about budget cutting, noted here yesterday by Ed Krayewski. The Hill states what occurred to everyone: House leadership is "sending a clear message that they are demanding more unity from rank-and-file members."

One of the guys who lost his seat on the House Budget Committee, Michigan Rep. Justin Amash, who is going into his second term, has spoken out on his axing, reported by the Detroit Free Press:

Speaking at the conservative Heritage Foundation on Tuesday, Amash said he still hasn’t received official word that he’d been removed from the House Budget Committee going forward.

“For a party that’s trying to expand its base and make sure it reaches out to young people and new groups, I think it’s pretty outrageous,” Amash said. He called it “a slap in the face” to the growing libertarian wing of the Republican Party, noting that he voted along with leadership 95% of the time during his first term.

Amash defeated Democrat Steve Pestka in the Nov. 6 election and begins his second term in Washington in January. But he won’t do so as a member of the Budget Committee, where he voted against budget proposals put forth by Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who was his party’s vice presidential nominee this year. Amash said the budgets didn’t go far enough.

“It’s not acceptable to have budgets that are unbalanced to the year 2040,” he said.

Amash also spells out one of the biggest problems the establishment GOP has with being a genuine party of fiscal responsibility and constitutional government:

Amash also disagreed with what he described as an entrenched view among Republican leaders that defense spending is off limits for cuts. He believes that while the nation’s military must remain strong, that defense spending should be on the table for reductions and that it could serve as a way to find a bipartisan agreement with Democrats on spending cuts.

“I think they (Republican leaders) are willing to raise taxes to avoid any defense cuts,” said Amash. “I think they’re willing to take really bad deals to avoid any defense cuts.”

And it's not just a matter of spending the money, as Amash's political inspiration Ron Paul almost uniquely understood: it's a matter of the tactics and priorities of our military-industrial complex, which need to be seriously rethought. The spending cuts will come naturally once imperial mission and the need to spend multiples of what the entire rest of the world spends on the military are abandoned.

Kansas Rep. Tim Huelskamp is also feeling the purge, and complaining, reports NBC:

"It's petty, it's vindictive and if you have any conservative principle, you'll be punished," Huelskampsaid at a briefing for conservatives at the Heritage Foundation.

Huelskamp and Amash, along with Reps. David Schweikert, R-Ariz., and Walter Jones, R-N.C., lost their seats on the budget panel and House Financial Services Committee after the GOP conference determined they were "not team players," in the words of one Republican aide.

That action has prompted a minor outcry among conservatives, who fear that lawmakers who cross the GOP leadership will be punished for their transgressions. That fear coincides with mounting concern on the right that Republican leaders will cut a "fiscal cliff" deal with President Barack Obama that results in higher taxes, through either increased rates or eliminated deductions.

It reminds me of something Grover Norquist said to me back in 1999 about Ron Paul, then a pretty obscure backbench congressman, when I first wrote about Paul for the American Spectator:

one Ron Paul is grand; and 218 Ron Pauls would be even grander; but 20 Ron Pauls could cripple the party, since the usual half-steps toward less government and less taxation might not find support among the more ideologically rigorous.

"Some Republicans don't work with the rest of the gang because they are being jerks, or playing to the home team, or being weak," Norquist says. "Ron is understood to be acting on principle. But he does take principled positions that sometimes cause the leadership heartache because they need to pass less-bad bills, and they can't count on his vote to do that."

In this case the Amashes are being punished for being a living example that the GOP isn't really willing to do anything substantive toward "less government."

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  • ||

    Amash aside, the "mounting concern" that the deal will result in higher taxes is more of a problem than the deal itself.

    A significant number of so-called conservatives seem to be willing to sacrifice cuts in spending in order to keep tax rates low. A combination of priorities destined to result in bigger deficits.

    The true fiscal conservatives ought to be offering tax hikes in exchange for spending cuts. Not the reverse.

    And the fact that Republicans are willing to trade higher taxes for more defense spending is the worst part of all.

    Is there ANYONE out there seriously negotiating for less spending? It doesn't appear so.

  • ||

    No, fuck you, cut spending. No tax raises.

  • ||

    If to comes down to a choice between no tax raises and spending cuts which do you pick?

    A) Lower taxes and more spending.

    Or

    B) Higher taxes and less spending.

  • wareagle||

    why is the choice limited to those options? The problem is too much spending, not too little taxation. Spend less and leave taxes alone for now. Hell, just a freeze on spending would be a huge step in the right direction.

  • iggy||

    The Democrats will never accept any deal that doesn't punish rich people. Never. I don't think necessary spending cuts are going to happen regardless, but the only hope for any cuts is to give them their tax increase.

  • T o n y||

    Republicans don't want any deal that doesn't punish poor people. So pick your poison.

  • iggy||

    Oh, fuck off Tony. Not getting money paid for by other people is not punishment. I'm not getting free money right now, and I'm hardly rich given that I'm working an entry level job. I know you think that not stealing from someone means you're actually giving them something, but the rest of us aren't so morally bankrupt.

  • T o n y||

    No you're much more morally bankrupt. A tax is not a punishment, though it is a "tax," or burden. People are taxed to pay for the things they buy, and they should be taxed in a way that pays the bills without burdening anyone's lifestyle. Your "morality" consists of nothing but calling taxation a punishment, with absolutely no concern for the actual well-being of human beings.

    You can bray about how social welfare programs are a gift to poor people and that massive tax cuts to rich people are no such thing, but in the end it's just semantics and arithmetic. Ever consider that tax breaks are the means by which rich people secure welfare for themselves? You guys think the poor are getting something undeserving and must therefore have enormous influence over politicians. Surely the rich have at least as much, person by person. Maybe tax policy is set up to give favors to rich people (capital gains rate anyone?).

    "Takers and makers" is an immoral, not to say fascist, way of describing society. Everyone takes and almost everyone makes--and among those who don't are old people who "made" their whole lives. It's just simply a faulty premise in your morality that social safety nets are any different from an economic and physical infrastructure that encourages and protects wealth accumulation.

  • iggy||

    Well thank God I never used the phrase takers vs. makers! It's almost like you can't argue so you put words in my mouth.

    They should be taxed enough to pay bills without burdening someone's lifestyle? The taxes I pay now burden my lifestyle, in that I can't buy things I would otherwise like to buy. If that's your criteria, then all taxes are immoral. Your criteria are buzz words with no meaning. Even I wouldn't argue that, which is why your criteria is idiotic.

    Tax breaks are the means by which rich people secure welfare for themselves? It's their money, that they're keeping. That's not welfare. Every ridiculous statement I make about you believing that not taking = giving to someone, you prove with future statements.

  • KPres||

    You can bray about how social welfare programs are a gift to poor people and that massive tax cuts to rich people are no such thing, but in the end it's just semantics and arithmetic.

    No it isn't you fuckstain faggot. In order to "give" somebody a tax cut they have to produce something for you to tax in the first place. The alternate is not true. A person receiving a transfer doesn't have to produce shit in order to get their gift. That's a CATEGORICAL difference. Not semantics.

  • ||

    If a tax isn't a punishment, a non-benefit certainly isn't a punishment either.

  • KPres||

    "Takers and makers" is an immoral, not to say fascist

    You don't even know what the word fascist means. Fascism had nothing to do with "takers and makers". Keep posting, though, your embarrassing your side.

  • Rob||

    T O N Y, if you are so concerned for the poor why do you never lament how poorly the government manages the vast resources taken from the people through various forms of taxation?

    I don't object to programs which help people, but if I am required to pay into these programs I demand they be both effective and efficient. Unfortunately, I have yet to see a national social program which is effective, let alone a program which is both effective and efficient.

  • Rights-Minimalist Autocrat||

    People are taxed to pay for the things they buy

    I can't believe you say this, then mention "faulty premise" later in your post. Letting me pay for the things I buy would be a massive improvement over the current system.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Tony w/spaces, I'm confused: Are the Repubs a bunch of poor, white-trash, Wal-Mart shopping, gun-toting, tractor pull loving yokels? Or are they rich country club WASPs who sodomized each other at Skull and Bones meetings? Please clarify the narrative, thanks.

    And you're the worst sockpuppet ever.

  • T o n y||

    They are the former who vote for the latter.

  • KPres||

    They are the former who vote for the latter.

    So give them what they want.

  • Calidissident||

    Tony, you're telling me Republicans are unwilling to vote for a budget that doesn't cut spending on the poor (which is what I assume you mean by "punish poor people"). Seriously?

  • MJGreen||

    Ever consider that tax breaks are the means by which rich people secure welfare for themselves?

    That's gold, Tony! GOLD!

  • ||

    why is the choice limited to those options?

    Because the Democrats are never going to agree to both lower spending and lower taxes.

    Especially considering that they will get higher taxes just by sitting on their hands.

    The only reason the R's are even bothering to negotiate right now is because they want tax cuts more than they want spending cuts.

  • wareagle||

    the Dems are NEVER going to agree to lower spending, begging the question of why are Repubs so perpetually stupid as to think they will?

    Let ALL the tax rates expire. Let folks get all the govt they voted for. Perhaps a few weeks of seeing that lesser sum put in their accounts will trigger a light bulb.

  • ||

    Ok, so we go over the fiscal cliff. Then in January the Democrats propose a reinstatement of the tax cuts for the middle class only.

    What are the Republicans going to do then? Vote against it?

    The only difference between doing it now and then is that if we wait until then the D's get all of the credit for doing it and get to blame the GOP and portray them as insane idealogues, and probably attach a bunch of new spending to the bill.

  • Pound. Head. On. Desk.||

    Presented with those choices, I choose C)Fewer Incumbents.

  • Jordan||

    I pick A). Anything that hastens the crash.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Me too.

    So take all the tax cuts you can get and agree to all of Obama's new spending.

  • iggy||

    I agree with Hazel. I am absolutely willing to go back to pre-Bush tax rates if it means major spending cuts. The problem is, the GOP doesn't give a damn about spending cuts because they're obsessed with all that sweet, sweet graft their constituents get from military spending. And the Democrats are unwilling to make literally any cuts to entitlements, schools or any other social program, regardless of how unnecessary.

    Dick Durbin literally said that social security spending doesn't increase the deficit. When people are living in that bizarro world, there is nothing that can be done.

  • wareagle||

    the problem with your agreement is the "if" part - the cuts NEVER HAPPEN. We have seen this movie before and, what do you know, the ending is always the same.

  • iggy||

    I know. The only possibility I can see is this: Increase top rate taxes to pre-Bush levels. Get spending cuts in return. As part of the agreement, make it law that if those spending cuts don't occur or if spending increases at any point during the life of the deal, taxes revert to the Bush level.

    I don't know if that would work, but I see no other option. They simply will not make cuts.

  • ||

    As part of the agreement, make it law that if those spending cuts don't occur or if spending increases at any point during the life of the deal, taxes revert to the Bush level.

    I like this idea.
    Except I think it would kind of incentivize budget busting instead of the other way around.

    What do you think D's want more: higher spending, or higher taxes?

  • wareagle||

    this deal sounds good if you are negotiating in good faith. On the other hand, we're talking Congress here. Nothing against your idea, just the folks you hope would implement it.

  • ||

    Well, the fiscal cliff cuts will happen.

    What gets me is that the Republicans WANTED THIS. This is the deal they fought for in 2011.

    They went through all that debt ceiling shit just so they could repeal it all in the lame duck session of 2012?

  • Jerryskids||

    Well, the fiscal cliff cuts will happen.

    No, they won't. Sure, an agreement may not be reached before the first of the year to stop the 'cuts' from taking place but whatever agreement is reached next year will include restoring any supposed decrease in spending from the sequester. And any 'cuts' are only going to be the kind where accounting tricks make it look like cuts on paper but it's not like a single government employee or agency is going to be out in the street asking for spare change.

  • Brutus||

    I've offered the deal to any number of port-siders: a return of Clinton tax rates in exchange for a return of Clinton spending levels (adjusted for inflation).

    I can't get one to agree.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    You can't come close to a balanced budget without cutting into defense. That's a $900 billion target, and it's all discretionary. I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of Team Blue members who have significant defense constituents in their districts/states are making behind-the-scenes moves to prevent those cuts from happening, too.

    About 140 years ago, people in Denver lobbied for an Army base near the city, and Sherman rejected it on the basis that they seemed a lot more interested in using the base as a federal cash cow than in justifying the actual defense needs such a fort would provide. It seems that hasn't changed much.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    The glories of the Welfare-Warfare state. The people pay out the nose for both Welfare and Warfare. However, Warfare is a form of Welfare for certain groups (contractors, lobbyists, municipalities), and Welfare requires (rhetorical) Warfare on those "most able to pay."

  • wareagle||

    so the GOP is trying ritual suicide as a tactic?

  • Brutus||

    The Stupid Party is earning its name yet again.

  • KPres||

    Neo-cons are a false flag operation. A bunch of socialists who hijacked the liberal American party to push the the militant face of socialism while the others pushed the domestic face. Now we have two choices, socialism from the left or socialism from the right, but socialism up the rear either way.

  • AlmightyJB||

    M-I-C

    K-E-Y

    F-U-C-K Me

  • Pound. Head. On. Desk.||

    Annette Funicello...

  • Adam330||

    It would be too bad if Amash got together with 16 other like-minded Republicans and announced they wouldn't be supporting Boehner for speaker.

  • wareagle||

    I'm beginning to wonder if anyone notices a difference between John and Nancy, aside from the phyical.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Better yet, come out and announce full on war on Boehner. Whoever had the balls to do that will get millions of conservatives around the country supporting them.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    Doherty, it's like you aren't even trying to met me halfway.

  • waaminn||

    Sounds like a pretty good plan to me dude. I like it.

    www.Anon-Hide.tk

  • ||

    I think it is kind of cool watching the Republican party tear itself apart.

  • eyeroller||

    "growing libertarian wing of the Republican Party"

    Uh, yeah...sure...

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