Illinois Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger is claiming “profiteers” are hijacking the conservative message and causing disfunction in Congress. Without naming names, although it should be pretty obvious who he’s speaking of, Kingziner writes in Crain’s Chicago Business (other outlets have picked up the op-ed as well) that all the “profiteers” want is money.
Their sole goal is to promote purity for profit. These are talk-show hosts and pundits who anger the base to hook an audience and sell ad space. Scream louder, get angrier, call people names, and the checks roll in.
Some so-called “think tanks” in Washington, D.C., even create score cards, often contrived and authored by young, unelected people, simply to drive the fundraising effort that pays their salaries. Just look at your recent emails or pleas for cash. It’s not uncommon to read “we are the ones keeping the GOP pure,” or “purge the RINOs.” These profiteers hijacking the tea party label for their own self-interest are neither Republicans nor conservatives, and they certainly don’t represent the best of any wing of our party.
He goes on to complain about the sequester and the killing of the Ex-Im Bank.
A few years ago, we prided ourselves on protecting small business; today, the prophets attack the Chamber of Commerce. We used to take pride in our exports and manufacturing; today, the “profits” call Ex-Im Bank an anathema, despite every industrialized nation having one. We used to be the party for a strong national defense, but the “profits” say keeping the ruthless sequester on our military is a top priority.
Kinzinger deserves respect for his three tours in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom and for saving a woman’s life in 2006 in Wisconsin by taking down her attacker. But in this piece he’s unfortunately extremely wrong. The emails which say “Purge the RINOs” aren’t the ones I’m getting from think tanks like FreedomWorks, but by political action committees I’ve never heard about. Did FreedomWorks overtly campaign for John Boehner’s resignation as Speaker and not want Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy to take over? Absolutely, but their anger seemed more at the idea those two didn’t follow smaller, weaker government ideals more than anything else. McCarthy, who is a nice guy and true success story based on his interview on Politinerds, voted in favor of the Farm Bill, Cromnibus, against a ban on federal funds for license plate scanners, against amendments reducing Energy Department spending, and against an amendment to limit NSA spying. These are bills which would have saved money and made Americans more free. Those who complain on this aren’t trying to be purist, but trying to hold the Republican Party accountable for not adhering to what they claim to stand for.
The same goes for the criticisms of the Ex-Im Bank and praising the sequester. There are plenty of economists who explain why the Ex-Im Bank shouldn’t exist, mainly because it’s dyed-in-the-wool cronyism and buying and selling politicians at its finest. There’s no reason for it to exist because the corporations it mostly serves have enough money to do international financing to begin with, as well as advertising. The sequester was actually a good thing because it cut the size of government. That’s an important thing to do because of the spiraling debt the U.S. is dealing with. Kinzinger can complain about the Defense Department losing money, but those cuts weren’t even $100B and defense spending is already rising. Plus, CBS News reported October 9th those spending caps aren’t going to stay in place anyways.
Meanwhile, the White House and top congressional leaders are working on a new budget agreement that would lift spending limits on defense and non-defense spending for the next two years.
This is why it’s important to keep Congress accountable. It’s easy to sit there and say, “Well if the Pentagon asks for it, they must need it,” but fiscal responsibility is important. If families are supposed to follow a budget and live within its means, why can’t the government (whether it’s federal, state, or local)? Yes it’s important to keep the country safe, but there are ways to keep vital defense spending going, instead of just throwing money at a problem and proclaiming, “We’ve fixed it!” It just requires keeping the budget balanced and being willing to sacrifice golden calves.
Kinzinger ends his piece by boiling it down to compromise.
Government has been built on compromise, from the Constitutional Convention forward. The Republican Party needs leadership that can reach beyond the entertainment and profit motives of the “profits” and spark new hope in the hearts of the American people.
Is compromise important? Absolutely. But the question is where does one compromise? What hills do people decide to die upon? There’s a massive difference between deciding to compromise on $500B in funding vs. $700B, and going along with proposals which kill freedom vs. protecting it. The same goes for tax cuts. Will Congress agree to a 5% tax cut or a 1% tax HIKE, and is there middle ground to be reached. This is what Kinzinger fails to understand and what the GOP Establishment fails to understand. It’s also why keeping Congress accountable is a good thing. Does it cause some chaos? Sure. But it doesn’t mean the house is burning down.