Rep. Chaffetz Holds Some Terrible Views. Would That Make Him a Bad Speaker?

He definitely wouldn't be a voice of libertarian conservatism.


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Rep. Jason Chaffetz

Last week when libertarian conservative Michigan Rep. Justin Amash's name was floated as a potential replacement for House Speaker John Boehner, I worried that a higher profile for Amash would come at the expense of his role as a legislative rebel.

If anything, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) is almost a polar opposite of Amash while being within the same party. Chaffetz has announced he is running for consideration as speaker, challenging House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) for the spot.

Here are some things Chaffetz has said or done that should concern libertarians (and others):

  • Chaffetz has introduced legislation (carrying water for casino magnate Sheldon Adelson) to outlaw Internet gambling. He took the family values route, claiming Internet gambling would lead to kids downloading phone apps and blowing their parents money without them even noticing. (They would probably notice when the first bill showed up.)
  • Chaffetz attempted to interfere with the implementation of a successful ballot initiative to legalize marijuana in Washington, D.C. As the chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform he even threatened back in February that D.C. officials could go to jail if they stopped enforcing marijuana bans. That obviously has not happened, and he appears to have backed off.
  • The marijuana law wasn't Chaffetz's first effort to interfere with D.C. home rule. As a freshman congressman in 2009, he wanted to block an ordinance passed by D.C. to recognize same-sex marriages. He failed. His efforts got some additional press because his father had written a book about a committed gay couple who participated in reality competition show The Amazing Race.
  • Chaffetz is in favor of a pre-emptive military strike to stop Iran's nuclear ambitions, telling Wolf Blitzer on CNN America has "to do everything and anything we can do in our power" to make sure Iran never gets a nuke.
  • Chaffetz introduced legislation to give states the authority charge sales taxes for online purchases from out-of-state customers.

On the other hand, Chaffetz, in a recent CNN interview speaking about his ambition, had some sensible things to say about fighting to restrain debt and maintain a debt ceiling, telling CNN, "I have no interest in just simply raising the trajectory of spending." But he has a very Republican idea of spending cuts, meaning what he really wants to do is cut spending in some areas he doesn't like, then spend more on the military.

And none of this is getting into Chaffetz's embarrassingly dumb misfire with a chart during a hearing about federal Planned Parenthood funding that incorrectly made it appear as though they were now providing more abortions than cancer screenings and prevention services. Regardless of one's position on either abortion or federal funding for Planned Parenthood (those issues can be approached separately), he didn't exactly do his own side any favors.

House Republicans will be voting Thursday to decide which name they'll be advancing as a nominee for speaker. The vote will take place at the end of the month. Despite insisting he'll be more confrontational than the ineffectual Boehner, Chaffetz told CNN he would ultimately support whoever the party puts forward, even if it's not him. He also said that despite his own views, he'd let the House committees drive policy and listen to his caucus before making decisions. I'm not entirely sure what makes him significantly different from McCarthy, then, other than saying he's more willing to fight (but then immediately folding if he's not the top nominee).

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  1. The real problem is that there are only so many reference-worthy Curtis Armstrong roles we can use to make fun of this guy.

    1. Chaffetz, is a law and order conservative nut job. He believes that every federal and state crime should carry a mandatory minimum prison sentence that is half of the statutory max. So, every ten year felony would carry a five year minimum mandatory. Every one year misdemeanor would carry a six month minimum. He also believes that sex between a man and his wife is a form of human sex trafficking. And the husband is a john that should spend life in prison. He also believes police and prosecutors should be able to just make up the rules as they go along. He also believes anyone that uses pot should be locked up forever. He also believes that if a police officer is having a bad day, that said officer should be allowed to use deadly force to capture a suspect with unpaid traffic tickets. He also believes that no crime, no matter how petty, should ever have a statute of limitations period that would expire. You get the idea. He’s bad news?

      1. The end should have read: He’s bad news!!!!

      2. Not caving in to Obama at every turn and actually having his chamber of Congress do it’s job would be a huge improvement over Boehner.

        Boehner truly sucked boner. And I have to be live that this guy is less of a turd than McCarthy. The real question is, who is a better viable alternative?

        1. Hopefully we could find someone that believed in liberty. If such a person even exists in the house of reps!

      3. In other words, pad America’s lead in prisoners per capita. We’d be the laughing stock of all the third world and Communist nations.

      4. Chaffetz is bad but Kevin McCarthy is the LAST thing we need as speaker at this time. We need someone who can actually speak without putting his ass in his mouth. I actually wonder if he’s not a Hillary plant.

        I hear Gowdy is still pulling his hair out.

  2. “On the other hand”

    Sometimes there is no other hand.

    1. +1 Fiddler on the Roof

    2. Tell that to an economist.


  3. incorrectly made it appear as though they were now providing more abortions than cancer screenings and prevention services.

    Yeah, that graph is phenomenally stupid.

    That said, PP provides zero (0) mammographies. Not sure what (other) cancer screenings they provide, or what on earth “prevention” services might include.

    As for the rest, he looks like a pretty garden-variety crony Congressman to me. Execrable, but not extraordinarily so.

    1. Here’s the breakdown from the annual report:

      Abortions: 327,653
      Sexually transmitted infection/disease testing and treatment: 4,470,597
      Contraception: 3,577,348
      Cancer screening and prevention: 935,573
      Pregnancy tests: 1,128,783
      Prenatal services: 18,684
      Family practice services: 65,464
      Adoption referrals: 1,880
      Urinary tract infection treatments: 47,264
      Other: 17,187

      Women can develop cancer in their cervix, uterus, and ovaries, all of which can be screened for by an OBGYN.

      The real question is what those 17,000 “other” services are. Probably more abortions.

      1. Even if it is more abortions it doesn’t move the needle much.

        1. But what if they’re SUPER ABORTIONS, where they reach through a woman’s uterus through time and into alternate dimensions to exterminate every baby she previously had or might have had?

          1. Quantum abortion. They are also aborting the fetus in every dimension the fetus was created.

            1. Carly Fiorina saw footage of these quantum abortions and assures you she’s appalled.

          2. A dimensionally transcendental uterus?

      2. Obama statistics.

        Abortions saved or created.

    2. Not sure what (other) cancer screenings they provide, or what on earth “prevention” services might include.

      Pap smears are cancer screening.

      And the reason they provide fewer is because guidelines have reduced the recommended frequency from once a year to once every two years.

    3. Not sure what (other) cancer screenings they provide…

      PAP smears. Surprised that you don’t know about that being a regular part of a routine GYN exam, your being in healthcare and all.

      But you could try to weasel out of that by claiming that they don’t actually provide-provide them since they just collect the sample and send the swab out for someone else to read.

      My understanding is that they don’t provide mammographies because they don’t have radiologists and radiologic technicians, but regularly refer people to actual radiological practices.

      1. Yep. They also do manual breast exams, which are, of course, cancer screenings too.

      2. Surprised that you don’t know about that being a regular part of a routine GYN exam, your being in healthcare and all.

        I’m a dude, man.

        1. As am I, RC, as am I. And I have far less reason to be personally concerned with OB/GYN stuff than do you.

  4. Speakers rarely actually vote, so give the gavel to a dumbass you don’t want anywhere near voting on legislation.

    1. But there can’t be 435 Speakers, can there?

      1. Cacophony for Speaker!

      2. 434 is fine. I’m comfortable with letting Amash vote on most things.

        1. Massie isn’t too bad either.

  5. Would it make him a terrible speaker?

    John Boehner was awful on spending, the prescription drug benefit, and TARP, it would be an improvement to have someone as Speaker who genuinely cared about spending.

    However, it’s certainly possible for someone to be significantly better than John Boehner and still woefully awful.

  6. Another Big Gov GOPer as Speaker?

    He’s perfect then.

  7. I’m not sure America is ready for a speaker with a pig nose.

    1. Henry Waxman retired, so….

    2. And facelift eyes.

  8. I’m fine with him being speaker if he uses his newfound power to defund the Secret Service.

  9. I’m suspicious of these Tea Party nuts. Many of them voted against free trade fast track earlier this year. Boehner a reliable free trader and the vote on TPP won’t come up until January.

    1. Thanks for your concern. Duly noted.

    2. Sure Shriek! Its all the Tea Party Bernie Sanders

      On the U.S. campaign trail, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who is running for the Democratic presidential nomination, slammed the deal, saying that “Wall Street and other big corporations have won again.” Republican front-runner Donald Trump tweeted on Monday: “The incompetence of our current administration is beyond comprehension. TPP is a terrible deal.” And Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton has hedged on the TPP pact, despite having supported it while serving as Obama’s secretary of state.

      Or that other Tea Party Nut – Critics of such panels, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), have charged that the pact would allow large corporations to sue TPP member nations for lost profits if they changed their public health laws or other regulations.

      Keep trying though.

    3. Yeah, it’s insane and extreme to advocate responsible spending and not bankrupting the country. You should definitely be suspicious of any non-communist who doesn’t want to destroy America like you do.

  10. Maybe he could win the speakership by converting vote tallies into chart form.

  11. I think the worst thing about this guy is his clear crony capitalist bent. If he is doing favors for the Casinos and traditional retailers (State Sales Tax for Online Purchases), then he will do it for military contractors and others.

    I’m not a fan of his SoCon bonafides either, but for me the test is whether or not he sees a government role stacking the deck for and against certain economy participants. And it seems he has no principle guiding him here.

    Given that he doesn’t have to vote to cause considerable damage (he influences who sits on the committees that bring legislation and influences which bills come to the floor), I don’t really want him in this position.

    1. Sheldon Adelson is not just any casino owner, he’s an Israel-firster. So basically that vote was to preserve one of Israel’s funding pipelines.

  12. I worried that a higher profile for Amash would come at the expense of his role as a legislative rebel

    I liked Amash before he sold out. Now he’s too corporate establishment.

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  14. When you can elect 50 or so Representatives with strongly libertarian viewpoints, you may get a Speaker who will not only give you a place at the table, but listen respectfully to your views.
    This is the point that the TEA Party is at currently. Of course, they don’t muddle their message with drug-legalization which is a very hard sell in certain quarters. There may be a message there.

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