The top 8 list

There’s not a whole lot I can add to this except comment on the unique aspect of the presentation.

But the Club for Growth recently came up with a list of talking points advocating the defunding of Obamacare. In and of itself, that’s not unique, but the facts are presented as a cutout card suitable for inclusion in “your wallet, purse, pants pocket, etc.”

Yet in theory, this could be something passed out by like-minded groups at your typical county fair, festival, gathering, or the like. All someone has to do is make up enough copies to distribute.

Each and every one of these is pretty valid in and of itself, but taken as an octet they are quite compelling.

Meanwhile, the state of Maryland is trying to blow sunshine up the skirts of unsuspecting residents by claiming our insurance premiums under Obamacare will be lower than most states and most previously uninsured will qualify for tax credits to make up the difference. (Nice income redistribution if you can get it.)

Yet the study has some glaring weaknesses; for example, only a handful of states are included. Delaware, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia aren’t among them, so we don’t know if our closest peer states are getting a better deal. With the exception of Ohio and Virginia, the states involved are similar to Maryland in that their exchanges are state-based.

The Maryland Health Connection study – in essence, the state government studying itself – also crows about how the state’s Insurance Commissioner reduced the rate increases sought by insurers by up to 50 percent. In other words, they once again made it more difficult to do business in Maryland as insurers will soon find the state unprofitable.

Let’s face facts: the state is doing this for one reason and one reason only: to convince young and healthy individuals they need to buy insurance rather than pay the tax penalty. Good luck with that, especially at $1,368 a year.

It seems to me that rates would go down if the state would eliminate its mandates for basic coverage, but every advocacy group under the sun would bitch and complain that their pet disease is being slighted. So rates will either have to increase, or insurers will cede the field. Neither is a good choice, but that’s where we are going; meanwhile, those who qualify for the subsidies won’t see the end effects because the money won’t come from their pockets directly, or if it does they’ll just get a larger tax refund and believe they’re hosing the government when the joke is on them.

It’s a brave new world out there, and I get the feeling Obamacare will be every bit the predicted “trainwreck” and more unless it’s defunded.

Primary colors

I came across this nugget and it got me to pondering. One would think we don’t have this issue in Maryland with just one Republican Congressman who was supported by the group, but read on.

For a bit of context, let me refer you to another Congressional scorecard put out by the Club for Growth. In it, our Congressman Andy Harris received a respectable (but not outstanding) score of 86 percent. He easily outdistanced the other state Republican, now-former Congressman Roscoe Bartlett, but finished outside the top 10 percent of Congress and didn’t crack the top 50. That’s a departure from his 2011 score of 95 percent and 22nd place ranking.

Yet there’s probably not a lot of danger that we’ll see Andy Harris’s face plastered on this site, called Primary My Congressman! This is another Club For Growth project, complete with the picture of the rhino (for RINO) in the heading. Their reasoning for the site:

Many of these RINOs represent districts that are heavily Republican where it would be difficult for the right Republican candidate to lose. In fact, the nonpartisan Cook Report, a political handicapper, found that in 2012, 190 Congressional districts were considered “Strongly Republican,” meaning that they were not even competitive in the general election. In 96 Congressional districts, 2012 Republican nominee for President Mitt Romney received more than 60% of the vote. Romney received more than 55% of the vote in 159 districts!

On the flip side, according to the 2012 pro-free market, limited government Club for Growth’s Congressional Scorecard, only 39 members of Congress have lifetime scores of 90% or above on their voting records relating to economic freedom and pro-growth policy.

This means that in districts that are heavily Republican, there are literally dozens of missed opportunities to elect real fiscal conservatives to Congress — not more “moderates” who will compromise with Democrats to just increase spending and grow government a little bit slower than usual.

While I see the Club for Growth’s point, it bears mentioning that the aforementioned Harris had to overcome a bloody and bitter primary in 2008, not to mention the stiff headwind presented by the combination of an uninspiring Republican Presidential candidate, a Democrat with a populist message, and a vanquished primary opponent who turned traitor and endorsed the Democrat – yet Harris only lost by less than 3,000 votes in an election where the Libertarian garnered over 8,000. The 2010 primary was much less eventful and the final tally much more reflective of the actual composition of the First District.

In defeating any or all of these targeted Republicans, the conservative has to be aware that, in many cases, the party establishment won’t be happy about the unwelcome guest. Being on a Central Committee, I can understand the notion of trying to avoid divisive primary fights due to the common misconception it would harm them in the general election. One can point to the Andy Harris example in 2008 as a case study in the effect of a contested primary, but bear in mind that had Republicans electorally stayed home and not followed the advice of the turncoat Wayne Gilchrest Harris may still have pulled it out. Having a fairly serious primary opponent in 2010 didn’t hurt Harris; meanwhile, Frank Kratovil had both the power of incumbency and no primary opponent, so in the eyes of conventional wisdom Kratovil should have had an advantage.

But if you want to help the conservative movement in a different way, why not turn the Club for Growth’s advice on its head?

If you are a conservative in what may be considered a hopelessly Democratic Congressional district, why not turn the tables on the establishment liberal and primary them as a Democrat? Obviously the chances of winning in this quest are quite remote, but there are several good things which can happen:

  1. As a conservative Democrat, you can spread that pro-liberty message to an audience which generally hears the word “Republican” and tunes out.
  2. If enough people begin to question the incumbent plantation liberal, he or she has to start paying attention to the district rather than being able to assist other Democrats in their election.
  3. And of course, if a conservative Democrat happens to win, they have two choices: either switch parties to their more natural home or be an absolute thorn in the side of the Democratic leadership in Washington. I don’t have nearly the problem with DINOs as I do with RINOs.

I’m sure there are some TEA Party types who are Democrats, but may not be active ones. Obviously we have made inroads in the local Republican Party but it may be time to do some more stealth movement into the Democratic side. (Arguably, there were at least three Democrats on the 2010 Wicomico County primary ballot who could pass for Republicans – none of them won, but unfortunately two ran for the same seat.)

The local test case for this may be Wicomico’s Council District 1. I’d love to see a good conservative Republican run for this post, but I would love it even more if a conservative minority Democrat ran for the office as well. I’m sure there are a lot of voters there who look solely at the party label at the ballot box, but if presented a choice would agree with pro-liberty principles – especially when it comes to education and the economy.

While it may be heresy to say this as a member of the Republican Central Committee, I will admit there are some conservatives who simply won’t join the Republican Party as a matter of principle. There have been possible matchups in the past where I would have voted for the Democrat over a more moderate Republican, but the conservative Democrats didn’t get out of the primary. I encourage them to keep trying, though, because I would rather have a choice between two conservatives in whom I have confidence to lead the pro-liberty movement than my usual option of either voting for a speed bump on the highway to tyranny or slamming down the hammer on the road to serfdom.

He’s number 22: Harris tops Maryland delegation on Club for Growth scorecard

While the group can learn a thing or two about how to organize a legislative scorecard from someone who knows about it, the Club for Growth recently released its 2011 legislative scorecards for the House and Senate. And for all those who believe the Club for Growth backed Harris for a reason, well, I guess you have your proof. Too bad thoughtful people agree with most of the Club’s positions.

I’ll cut to the chase: here is the percentage score and rank among Maryland’s House delegation, by district. Bear in mind there are 435 House members:

  1. Andy Harris, 95% (22)
  2. Dutch Ruppersberger, 1% (419)
  3. John Sarbanes, 8% (365)
  4. Donna Edwards, 11% (335)
  5. Steny Hoyer, 8% (372)
  6. Roscoe Bartlett, 89% (42)
  7. Elijah Cummings, 9% (353)
  8. Chris Van Hollen, 12% (315)

On the Senate side, Barbara Mikulski scored 11% and ranked 72nd, while Ben Cardin attained a miserable 3% rating and finished 94th.

It’s obvious that Maryland can do its part to help enact pro-growth policies by helping to get rid of the anti-growth president we have now, but more importantly in this election ousting Ben Cardin and some of the low-performing House members we have. That’s not to say one of Bartlett’s GOP primary opponents wouldn’t have a similar score, though, so don’t consider this an endorsement of Roscoe Bartlett. (Harris is unopposed in the GOP primary.)

Is eliminating Ben Cardin a long shot? Yes, a prudent observer would have to admit it is. Cardin is a likable guy who reminds people of a kindly grandfather, and it’s obvious he has plenty of political instinct since he’s made a long career out of being elected every two to four years. (By my count, he’s won in 1966, 1970, 1974, 1978, 1982, 1986, 1988, 1990, 1992, 1994, 1996, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2004, and 2006. That’s sixteen elections, folks.)

But it can be done, and we have to state our case to Maryland voters. The same goes for several House seats where I think we have a fighting chance: the Second, Fifth, and Eighth districts are probably the most in play. Imagine holding our two we have now and winning those three – Democrats would be self-immolating themselves if their heads didn’t explode first.

There’s no question conservatives have the right ideas, it’s just that we have to get together and put them into practice. Of course, the Club for Growth isn’t perfect but I would argue it’s pretty damn conservative and this is a useful gauge on who needs to go in our current Congressional setup.

Tomorrow I have a sort of companion piece on one Senate candidate, although I could have probably written it regarding several others as well. He points out a truism about Maryland politics that I expand on.

Odds and ends number 29

Since I started cleaning out my video archives last night, today seems like a perfect time to do the same with my e-mail box. As always, these are interesting items but ones to which I need only devote a paragraph or two.

In the 2008 election I found the Club for Growth a valuable resource, as did Andy Harris (for a different reason.) And once again they are preparing white papers on each of the major GOP candidates; so far they have released two for Newt Gingrich and Tim Pawlenty. Others on the horizon (once they officially announce) are Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin, Rick Santorum, Jon Huntsman, Ron Paul, Michele Bachmann, and Herman Cain. (They may have to add Texas governor Rick Perry to that list.)

One thing which might be a campaign issue for the Club to consider is the price of gasoline. While it’s retreated slightly from its peak of a few weeks ago, there’s still a long way to go before we reach the price point of a couple years back when our current President took office. But instead of shifting blame, the problem could be solved in a matter of weeks according to the Heritage Foundation:

Others, like the American Petroleum Institute, are chiming in as well. The fact of the matter is that increasing our domestic production could assist in bringing down the price because over 2/3 of the price comes from the crude oil itself. More supply to meet the demand commonly means lower prices.

And maybe I should share this graphic with the Maryland General Assembly – I know a lot of them read here - since they’re trying to cut the western end of the state out of the Marcellus Shale bounty.

(Thanks to some good friends of monoblogue, Ericka Andersen and Jane Van Ryan, for sharing. I have another Maryland energy-related piece for tomorrow too.)

And then we have the newly redesigned fuel economy stickers for 2013 models. Now there’s a little bit of sense in trying to compare the apples and oranges of electric cars vs. conventional fuel models, but the EPA isn’t telling the full story. And considering their original intent of giving letter grades for fuel economy (with electric vehicles rating an A and SUVs generally getting a D) we can see how they’re trying to influence behavior of the carbuying public rather than letting the market determine our fate.

Let’s change the subject and return to someone mentioned above. Perhaps you recall how Newt Gingrich savaged the Ryan plan for Medicare, much to the chagrin of conservatives and others who feel Medicare is unsustainable. Well, in an e-mail to supporters and others who happen to be on his list, he furiously backtracked:

The only way our country can win the future is by engaging our fellow citizens in serious discussions about major reform—not by avoiding hard choices. Congressman Ryan has made a key contribution to entitlement reform, courageously starting the conversation about how to save and improve Medicare. And that’s exactly the kind of national conversation I want our campaign to be about!

There is a reason over 1.4 million Americans are joining me in the online conversation to help win the future.

Yes, Newt, you were busted. But it is interesting to know that you have 1.4 million on your e-mail list.

So my mailbox is now relatively clean, and hopefully you’re much more well-informed.

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