With the recent purge of conservatives from Congressional committees and subcommittees it is becoming increasingly clear that there are two Republican Parties. One is those loyal to leadership, and the other is loyal to its principles.
We were amused recently when Romney campaign advisors Dan Senor and Pete Wehner credited Rep. Paul Ryan’s Medicare “reform” plan for ending Mediscare tactics by Democrats. Sure, the plan helped to blunt attacks on Republicans from people who believe in big government, because the plan is simply a different form of big government. Rather than have government negotiating rates and paying doctors with taxpayer dollars, it allows regular Americans to negotiate rates and pay doctors with taxpayer dollars. Either way the taxpayer is footing the bill. Is that real conservatism?
Today the same GOP leadership that brought you the Ryan plan is preparing to negotiate to raise Americans’ taxes to pay for out of control spending. Those disagreeing with the leadership’s Democrat-lite strategy are being purged from influential committees. Speaker John Boehner’s Steering Committee pulled Congressmen Justin Amash, Tim Huelskamp and David Schweikert from committees after the three made principled votes against leadership this year. That’s a major insult in Congress, and makes these conservatives much less effective in pursuing the goals they were sent to Washington to fight for.
But the purge is more than just a way to get rid of a few rabble rousers among the GOP ranks. It’s a way to instill fear in other congressmen. The threat of being booted from committees and subcommittees will be enough to keep many Republicans from voting against the terrible compromise GOP leadership is about to make on the fiscal cliff. Many will break their pledge to not raise taxes rather than risk being ejected from committee assignments.
While Mr. Senor and Mr. Wehner may consider unprincipled voting the route to electoral success, and Speaker Boehner may agree with them, what else does it accomplish? If Republicans vote like Democrats, and seek retribution against dissenters like Democrats, and spend other peoples’ money like Democrats, what makes them different from Democrats?