Free Minds & Free Markets

Rep. Justin Amash on Trump, Ryan, and the 'Stupidity' of How the Government Spends Your Money

The firebrand Michigan congressman unloads on the GOP leadership's unwillingness to shrink government's size, scope, and spending.

Since arriving in Washington in 2011, Justin Amash has cast more consistently libertarian votes than any other member of Congress. A lawyer by training, the 37-year-old Michigan Republican is an outspoken defender of due process, civil liberties, and defendants' rights. He is also resolutely non-interventionist and friendly toward immigrants. Outspoken in his principles, he rarely misses an opportunity to excoriate his GOP colleagues when they fail to live up to the party's limited-government rhetoric.

"There is such a level of stupidity right now in the way we spend money," says Amash, an opponent of ever-increasing Pentagon budgets and adventurism overseas. He is also a fierce critic of Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.): "The speaker has not been protecting the institution. You need a speaker in there who is an institutionalist, who cares about the institution first, who is not a partisan." Instead, Amash tells Reason's Nick Gillespie, Ryan is protecting individual members from having to cast votes for which they might be held responsible. "Let Republicans and Democrats and others offer their amendments, and let's have votes on all sorts of things, substantive things, not just post offices like they do now."

He is also fed up with Republican scapegoating of immigrants and refugees. "My parents are immigrants," he explains. "My dad's a Palestinian refugee. I think that a lot of his experience rubbed off on me. That he came from a place where he had no rights. He came here as a refugee. He told me all the time how wonderful it was to be in this country. How blessed we were to have been born in this country. That we have an opportunity here."

Amash is known for explaining each of his votes on Facebook and for maintaining a lively Twitter feed, where he excoriates Democrats and Republicans whenever they seek to expand the size, scope, and spending of the federal government.

"The omnibus is one of the worst—and most costly—pieces of legislation ever to become law. Period. That's why I voted no," Amash tweeted after his congressional colleagues passed a 2,300-page bill they clearly had not read.

This interview was conducted at Reason Weekend, our annual donor event, which was held this year in West Palm Beach, Florida.

NOTE: Podcast version contains full interview and audience Q&A. Run time 1 hour.

Cameras by Jim Epstein and Meredith Bragg. Edited by Alexis Garcia.

"Destiny Day" by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license ( Source: Artist:

"Dimmy" by Podington Bear is licensed under an Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 International License ( Source: Artist:

"Saunter" by Podington Bear is licensed under an Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 International License ( Source: Artist:

Photo Credits: Jim West/ZUMA Press/Newscom—Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/Newscom—Jonathan Ernst/Reuters/Newscom

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Nick Gillespie: Over the past couple of months, Congress has passed a budget deal that increases spending by about $300 billion dollars. It lifted the last of the budget caps from 2011, reauthorized domestic surveillance. The House overwhelming passed a sex trafficking bill that goes directly— It'll do less about sex trafficking, but it will open a lot of online speech to government regulation, which it had protected. And my first question, then, to you is remind us why anyone should vote Republican.

Photo Credit: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/Newscom

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Hank Phillips||

    Whoops... 404 wrong page. I was looking for the Remy video on spending.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Hank, usually when I run across people that just seem to be orthogonal to my semiotic circuits, it's because they have undertaken a heroic LSD regimen in their past. What's your excuse?

  • Ron||

    Give us some real choices and maybe people will quite voting party lines. the people the libertarians and the greens have been promoting have literally been off their rockers and thats a lot compared to who they went against, Hillary and Trump.

  • Nuwanda||

    Well said. This is the state hospital patient in room six pretending he's a pot and calling the patient in room 8 a very black kettle.

  • DenverJ||

    Even if the Green Party candidate was sane, why in God's name would you vote for a fucking communist?

  • Elston G||

    Who are you calling a communist?
    It seems to just be a pejorative.
    Define the word.
    Then explain how this person is a fucking communist. Words are supposed to mean things.
    Your credibility is at stake.

  • DenverJ||

    1. My credibility? LMAO
    2. Greens are like watermelons: green on the outside but red once you get to the substance.
    3. Here's a quote, taken completely out of context, from the Green Party USA platform:
    "We aim to maximize our quality of life with a minimum of consumption. We aspire to less "stuff" but more happiness. We propose a shift away from materialism to help people live more meaningful lives as we save the planet from climate change and ever-larger mountains of waste. We need to acquire the ability to distinguish between need and greed."

  • Moo Cow||

    Did you forget to copy and paste the part where they advocate seizing the means of production?

  • HeteroPatriarch||

    Do you really disagree that the Green party is communist?

  • Elias Fakaname||

    Since the Green Party platform has called for such things as seizure of bank opened property to house the homeless, yes they are communists. And yes, it IS a pejorative.

  • MarkLastname||

    That doesn't do much to excuse the primary voters who picked halfwits like Trump or Carson over Paul or even Cruz.

  • ||

    I'm commenting on Hit & Run in order to buy sex.

    Anybody got a problem with that? I'm asking you, FOSTA/SESTA!

  • DenverJ||

    Betty DeVos asked for congress to reduce her department's budget by $9 billion dollars. Congress- controlled by a party that claims to be for fiscal responsibility, limited government, and State's rights- increased the unconstitutional Department of Education's budget by $2.5 billion instead.

  • M.L.||

    Disgusting. DoE should be shuttered

  • Elston G||

    It's Betsy DeVos
    You got a citation for her wanting to cut by 9 billion?

  • DenverJ||

    You're right. Every time I hear or read the name I hear that line "she's got Bette Davis eyes". So still spelled wrong.

  • tlapp||

    At least Amash is fighting the good fight. We need to send him more support.

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