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."