Government Spending

If the Tea Party Prefers Bachmann to Hensarling, What Good Is It?


The New York Times reports that Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.),  a "Tea Party heroine," plans to challenge Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) for the post of GOP conference chair, the fourth-highest House leadership position, in the new Congress. According to the Times, "her candidacy vividly illustrates the central tension facing [incoming House Speaker John] Boehner and his team: balancing the demands of new lawmakers, some of whom ran against the Republican establishment and advocate a no-compromise stance toward the Obama administration and Democratic policies, against the need to deliver some accomplishments at a time of economic distress." Honestly, I'm not sure what that means, but the thrust of the story is that Bachmann represents bold newcomers supported by the Tea Party while Hensarling represents the wishy-washy old guard.

The first problem with this portrayal is that Bachmann has been in Congress since 2007, only four fewer years than Hensarling. The second problem is that the Tea Party is supposed to be motivated, first and foremost, by concerns about runaway government spending and the escalating federal debt, and Hensarling has a stronger record as a fiscal conservative than Bachmann does. Both voted against  Obama's stimulus package, the legislation that created the Troubled Asset Relief Program, and the auto industry bailout backed by the Bush administration. Hensarling did vote f

or Bush's reckless expansion of Medicare in 2003, but Bachmann was not a member of Congress then, so we don't know which way she would have voted. In Hensarling's favor, he opposes earmarks in both theory and practice, while Bachmann has managed only the former. Her stand against wasteful, unjustified spending is also belied by the agricultural subsidies her family farm has received. As you may have heard, she is also a bit of a loon, which may be the main reason the Times sees her as a more authentic embodiment of the Tea Party's concerns.

In 2007, the year Bachmann took her seat in the House, Dave Weigel profiled Hensarling as a "reformer" fighting "the old guard":

Hensarling, the newly elected chairman of the anti-tax, anti-spending Republican Study Committee, is a man obsessed with the budget. In the waning days of the Republican majority, Hensarling supported "alternative" budgets that were smaller than the GOP's own, including one with $103 billion in highway spending cuts, $630 billion in tax cuts, and a phase-out of Medicaid.

"When he was in the majority he was willing to vote against the rules, which is the absolute defiance of GOP leadership," says's [Erick] Erickson. "If you think they're willing to spend that much money, taking that kind of a stand against them is something you can only do if you're willing to be not liked."

In short, with the notable exception of his Medicare vote (a flaw shared by almost all of the Republican leaders who now claim to be budget cutters), Hensarling seems to be just the sort of legislator fiscal conservatives should want to see in a position of power. Assuming that the Tea Partiers' preference for Bachmann, who seems not terribly bright and longer on rhetoric than action, is not merely a figment of her imagination, what good are they?

NEXT: The Unschooled Life

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  1. LOL – was that an intentional typo to put (D) by Bachmanns name?

    1. I see that you fixed it.

  2. She looks like Ellen Degeneres in drag.

    1. She looked pretty hot the other night when Crissy Matthews was interviewing her.

    2. That’s a bad picture of her. She’s MILFtastic.

  3. Bachmann goes on TV. Lots. That’s why she’s in the press. It is circular, like Paris Hilton being famous for being famous.

  4. Bachmann is a nut. But hey, I am all for more nuts in Congress, because they’re so crazy they don’t tend to get anything done, which is ideal.

    1. Who would you rather party with, wiccan McDonell or Bachmann?

      1. Bachmann hasn’t said that sex is a sin (or whatever chastity bullshit O’Donnell spewed), so…Bachmann. She might put out.

        1. That’s why I specified wiccan McDonnell – back when she was a bit more wild.

    2. Pelosi is a nut, how does that factor in to your theory?

      1. Pelosi is a moron, not a nut. Much worse.

        1. She’s also 80 years old. I can understand some guys liking cougars, but that’s a bit much.

          1. to paraphrase Ike Turner, I’d hit dat.

        2. I actually believe that Pelosi is evil incarnate.

          1. Soros is evil incarnate. Pelosi is only an evil carnation.

    3. However one may feel about some of her views, Bachmann is nutty like a fox.

      She’s only been in Congress for four years and she’s already managed to become of its most well-known, high profile members.

      1. MSNBC*

        You’re welcome.

        * Leaning Forward: puking on our shoes.

      2. Alan Grayson managed the same thing despite his brief run. Both are pretty good examples of what would happen if an internet troll became a Congressman.

        1. What’s the most noticeable difference between Grayson and Bachmann? Hint: It involves the word “former”.

    4. they [the nuts] don’t tend to get anything done, which is ideal

      Yeah, but one of these days, one of those nuts will speak to Jesus just before launching the nukes.

      1. Johnny Smith will shoot Greg Stillson before that can happen. Even if he misses, it’ll be OK.

    5. Bachman is a loon. That’s what lives in Minnesota. I can hear Katherine Hepburn saying,”Look! The loon!”

  5. Her eyes look nearly as crazy as Pelosi’s.

  6. A bit of a loon? I guess that counts as a pass for a libertoid ally.

    1. This is far too tame to be the real Max. You don’t fool us, cheap impostor!

    2. Re: Max,

      Max, H&R’s pet yorkie.

      Here, Max! Here, boy! Go fetch! That’s a good boy! Yeah!

    3. arfarfarfarfarfarfarfarfarfarf

  7. “Her stand against wasteful, unjustified spending is also belied by the agricultural subsidies her family farm has received”

    IMO one has nothing to do with the other. Does any business refuse any subsidy (or tax credit et al) that is available to them in that year because they think the government is wasteful? If they did, they wouldn’t compete with other business who take advantage of the largesse.
    Now if she is advocating or proposing legislation to keep or increase farm subsidies as well as receives them on her own farm then you can ridicule and bitch slap her (oh yea).

    1. She actually has a very consistent record opposing farm subsidies. As does Hensarling.

      I’m not sure why consistently voting to eliminate farm subsidies while receiving them makes her worse, rather than better.

      1. Ahem. Ron Paul. Earmarks.

        1. Sorry, JT. Shouldn’t have been a response to you.

    2. I’m in agreement with this. Her family farm has an obligation To the bottom line of the business and should take any and all subsidies legally available to them if doing so improves the bottom line.

      Even if her and the rest of her family actively campaign to end said subsidies, the farm should take the subsidies until they successfully remove them.

    3. Bachmann rarely proposes legislation of any sort. And she misses a lot of votes. Makes her a great choice for GOP leadership.

  8. Look, since O’Donnell, the semi-hot, semi-crazy Tea Partier is out of the picture, they need a new semi-hot, semi-crazy GOPer to point to as the face of the Tea Party movement. It’s just that simple.

    1. ^^THIS^^

    2. Agreed. Reason wouldn’t be cool if its writers weren’t sneering at the people who actually win elections and try to get stuff done.

    3. Plus a bonus for posting an unflattering photo of the two-minute-hate of the season.

      I wonder if we can post unflattering photos of Reason staffers that depict them as wankers?

  9. “Hensarling did vote for Bush’s reckless expansion of Medicare in 2003, but Bachmann was not a member of Congress then, so we don’t know which way she would have voted.”

    Yes we do.

    1. I agree if you mean she wouldn’t have. In any case, we know for certain that Hensarling will mindlessly vote team R if sufficiently pressured, assuming he was even pressured.

  10. So the Tea Party’s only clear preference is attractive, Republican women. It seems to have more going for it than any other mass movement in politics right now.

  11. He, if what-his-face is smarter I prefer him too. But this whole attack is nothing but a bunch of culture war/teamred bashing. You admit they are indistinguishable based on votes, so you call her a farm-subsidy-gettin-religous-cook-hayseed and think you’ve proven your case. [Insert cocktail party teamblue bash here]

  12. I’d prefer either of them to the Orange Man for Speaker.

    1. Why do you hate tall Oompa-Loompas?

      1. Grunka lunka dunkity dasis
        The secret of Slurm’s on a need-to-know basis!

        1. That’s far and away the most intelligent post I’ve ever read here.

          1. Re: Max,

            Max, H&R’s pet yorkie.

            Here, boy! Go fetch! That’s a good boy!

              1. What’s the sound your mother makes Trebek?

        2. Farnsworth: “Who are those horrible orange creatures over there?”
          Glurmo: “Why those are the Grunka Lunkas. They work here in the Slurm factory.”
          Farnsworth: “Tell them I hate them!”

          1. Leela: This all must have something to do with the secret ingredient.

            Fry: My God, what if the secret ingredient is people?

            Leela: No, there’s already a soda like that – Soylent Cola.

            Fry: Oh. How is it?

            Leela: It varies from person to person.

      2. I had to wickipedia that to figure out what you were talking about. Not sure it was worth it.

  13. Non-establishment Republicans adopted Bachmann defensively, and really in name only, when she was selected as next in line for the Palin “not terribly bright” treatment from media/TEAM BLUE! assholes. The crackaz like her because?and to precisely the degree that?you, Mr. The Man, don’t. It’s the same deal as with O’Donnell. The hate preceded the embrace.

    Of course, it’s a mistake to let the other army select your generals, but it’s a traditional mistake. Conservatives like that kind.

  14. You’re looking to the New York Times as your guide to what the Tea Party wants?

  15. Perhaps they should fire Boehner give the job to Hensarling and let Bachmann have his empty slot.

    1. I don’t think there’s any “perhaps” whether they should fire Boehner. Unfortunately, I also don’t think there’s a chance in hell they will.

    2. I’d prefer Bachmann as speaker to either of them. So would the left!

    3. Perhaps they should fire Boehner give the job to Hensarling and let Bachmann have his empty slot.
      reply to this

      A critic might argue that any slot occupied by Boehner is an empty slot.

  16. Let me get this straight Reasonoids: Bachmann has a better voting record on fiscal stuff than Hensarling, yet, OMG ooga booga she skerrs yoou therefore….Oh whatever.

    1. “Hensarling has a stronger record as a fiscal conservative than Bachmann does”

      1. Yes, but that sentence would be considerably stronger if it weren’t based on the argument that Bachmann is somehow not a fiscal conservative because her family’s farm receives farm subsidies, even though she votes consistently against them.

        Jacob here is making the same argument as liberals who say “but you can’t be against government spending if you drive on those government roads!”

        Jacob is being as dumb as Biden here.

  17. Her stand against wasteful, unjustified spending is also belied by the agricultural subsidies her family farm has received.

    Stupid argument. She’s actually consistently voted against the farm bill and the subsidies— as did Hensarling, too, to give him credit.

    So your complaint is that despite receiving subsidies, she votes against the subsidies? Or that despite voting against the subsidies, she takes what the law gives her?

    I suspect that the vast majority of Democrats who oppose the tax cuts on the rich fail to send that extra money to the US Treasury, and I suspect that most libertarians are willing to take advantage of government services offered to them.

    Are all libertarians that dare send their kids to public school such hypocrites?

    1. To clarify, I still prefer Hensarling to Bachmann, but the amazing stupidity of Jacob’s argument here saddens me.

    2. Real libertarians don’t breed.

      1. Nah. Real libertarians breed like rabbits.

        They just don’t pay child support. Little bugger wants to eat? Get a job!

    3. Are all libertarians that dare send their kids to public school such hypocrites?

      No. Just stupid or poor.

      1. Raises hand: both!

    4. —“Are all libertarians that dare send their kids to public school such hypocrites?”—

      No. I think many of them just don’t want to be harrassed or arrested for not complying with the edicts of the elite. In many (most) states, we are required to send our children to government schools or risk the wrath of The School Board.

      And don’t tell me to send them to private school. I should be able to educate my children at home, or in some co-operative setting, if that is my choice.

      1. I should be able to educate my children at home, or in some co-operative setting, if that is my choice.

        And, of course, you are allowed to do exactly that. It’s called home schooling. Check it out.

  18. In Hensarling’s favor, he opposes earmarks in both theory and practice, while Bachmann has managed only the former.

    Does Hensarling favor repealing the income tax? Does Bachmann, for that matter? If not, who cares what they think about “earmarks”?

  19. All very interesting, I’m sure.

    What I would like to know though is; who would win in a hair-off* between Bachmann and Hensarling?

    *NCAA rules, of course.

    1. Bachmann would win. Title IX and all…

    2. does that mean one of them gets paid +$100K by a middleman to be in the fight?

  20. Actually, a lot of people that Tea Partiers seem to look up to in the movement are voicing their support for Jeb …

    Erick Erickson (Red State)
    Ned Ryun (American Majority)

    Just because Bachmann says she’s the “Tea Party heronie” doesn’t necessarily mean she is.

  21. I don’t remember Hensarling embracing the Tea Party the way Bachmann has. Could this possibly be the reason the Tea Party prefers her?

  22. Bachmann’s a MILF. Hensarling, not so much.

    Therefore, Bachmann should get the position. Next post, please…

  23. Bachmann stepped up to fight Obamacare in ways that no one else in the House did. She has earned some career advancement. There is no question that Hensarling is a party establishment hack. That’s why Pence anointed him as his successor.

    If team R wants to maintain some credibility with the TP, they must make some leadership concessions. Conference committee chair would be reasonable and would allow Bachmann, who has completely identified herself with the limited gov’t cause by this point, the opportunity to either prevent or at least monitor some of the usual confcom shenanigans.

    The cultural and personal smears that Sullum is adding to is not only repugnant, but counterproductive for the cause of limited government.

  24. First of all…. what the heck is this guy talking about? This is almost like the liberal spin machine trying to create a problem where there is none.
    First, can you name the Tea Party or Tea Party leaders who have come out and said they are campaigning for Bachmann over Hensarling? I want real live names, not dreams from last night. I haven’t seen any. Just because she wants to try doesn’t mean the Tea Party is saying her or it is war. WTF?
    How about sitting back and waiting to see what happens before you try to create the straw horse, how about it Jacob? You liar. You poop disturber.

  25. 1. There is no tea ‘party’ only free agents who hold similar views.
    2. Bachmann is wanting the job which is not to say she has support.
    3. Why would you care anyway? You’re not going to get in line behind either one of them.

  26. What a hit piece on Bachmann complete with “crazy” reference and outdated unflattering photo.

    Why should I donate to a lefty (or righty) magazine? Apply for a federal grant or ask George Soros or Karl Rove or whoever. Just don’t come begging to me if you’re gonna write this kind of drive-by crap.

  27. “Hensarling did vote for Bush’s reckless expansion of Medicare in 2003” + “Hensarling has a stronger record as a fiscal conservative than Bachmann does”

    Both of these things cannot be true. Voting for the expansion means that you’re not a fiscal conservative, right?

    That’s a 1.1 __TRILLION__ dollar expansion. It was a good thing, no doubt, just like Obamacare, but it wasn’t inexpensive. No one who cares deeply about the deficit voted for it.

  28. Bachmann will be excellent. We need clear leadership like hers!
    So what if Chris Matthews wants to embarrass her? She earned this position…having all those health care rallies at taxpayers’ expense. That was awesome!
    Plus, she really doesn’t lurk in hedges looking at gay people any more. She stopped that a good 4 years ago now.

  29. Um, the Troubled Asset Relief Program was signed into law on October 3, 2008- Obama wasn’t even president-elect at that point. It’s hard to take seriously a writer who can’t get such basic facts correct.

  30. T.A.R.P was enacted under Bush and *most* republicans voted for it. If you’re going to pretend to be a voice of fact for the American Public make sure you have your facts straight.

  31. I think we need a term for the Sullums of the world (unfortunately all too prevalent here at Reason) who appear to have a deep seated psychiatric need for self validation by spurious, irrelevant, culturally ignorant insults of the Michelle Bachmans of this world. God forbid we support a smart, energetic, well spoken, great looking mother of 23 foster kids and a tax attorney to boot. How about… LINO? I know, a rip off and a little lame, but what to make of libertarians who retreat into their hole just when the rubber is starting to hit the road?

  32. “In 2007, the year Bachmann took her seat in the House, Dave Weigel profiled Hensarling as a “reformer” fighting “the old guard”:”

    Say no more!

  33. I’ve noticed when any person actually stand up for Constitutional principles and actively speaks out on it they are labeled as “nuts”.

    It goes to show how far down the toilet this country has gone when supposed “conservatives” bash people for being a strict constructionist.

    That’s why the republican party won’t ever change. It’s still the party of big government corporate elitism aka neocons.

  34. FUCK the tea party.

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