Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Guest Blog from Michael Smith, Campaign for Primary Accountability, Asks OH-02 Primary Voters to Take a Close Look at Jean Schmidt's Record

If the last 40 years of politics have taught us anything, it’s that federal spending always goes up unless Congress takes positive action to slow or stop it.

Unfortunately, the temptation for many representatives is to win re-election by talking fiscal conservatism without actually practicing it. This makes the problem worse, because spending continues its climb even as voters believe they’re electing the right people to stop it.

Take District 2’s Jean Schmidt, for example. Since 2004, she’s earned a 92/100 on the Club for Growth’s 2009 RePORK Card, and a lifetime 92/100 from the American Conservative Union.

But high scores don’t mean lower spending. All spending bills originate in the House of Representatives, where each of the 435 members have an opportunity to lard bills up with pork. Rep. Schmidt leads in this dubious competition.

Among House members from the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky area, Rep. Schmidt inserted the most special projects (earmarks) into 2007’s spending bills: $14.6 million. Contrast that with neighboring Rep. John Boehner, who inserted zero. (Source: Cincinnati Enquirer, Oct. 2, 2007)

One such authorization, for $7.62 billion, which was opposed by Boehner and local Rep. Steve Chabot, included a $25 million earmark for a Cincinnati riverfront park (Source: Cincinnati Enquirer, May 1, 2007). While there’s nothing inherently wrong with cities making public improvements with tax revenue, this was federal money, drawn from taxpayers all over the country. The principle, and the bigger picture—a then-$9 trillion in federal debt—didn’t seem to figure in Rep. Schmidt’s conscience.

In 2009, Rep. Schmidt requested more than $10 million in federal earmarks for her own District 2. The spending bill in question was so heavy with pork that House Minority Leader Boehner urged President Obama to veto it. (Source: Cincinnati Enquirer, March 6, 2009)

But fiscal accountability has never been one of Schmidt’s strong points as an officeholder.

In June 2006, Schmidt voted "yes" on a procedural motion to prevent another congressman from forcing a direct yes-or-no vote on a Congressional pay raise. (Congress ultimately stopped the pay hike set for 2007, but Schmidt’s vote would have kept members off the record.) (Source: Cincinnati Enquirer, Oct. 23, 2008)

According to a Cincinnati Enquirer analysis of congressional spending, Rep. Schmidt spent almost $22,700 in taxpayer funds on mass mailings and teleconferences in 2008, second only to Rep. Chabot in the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky area. (Source: Cincinnati Enquirer, Oct. 20, 2008)

An appetite for spending is often accompanied by disregard for taxpayers’ interests, and in December 2010, Schmidt voted “no” on extending the Bush tax cuts (Source: Cincinnati Enquirer, Dec. 18, 2010). She blamed this on the amount of new spending in the bill -- a curious justification, in light of her spending record.

Going back to her history as a state-level legislator, Schmidt showed a peculiar (for a Republican) liking for tax increases, voting to raise the state sales tax by 20 percent (Source: Cincinnati Enquirer, Feb. 28, 2004) and the state gasoline tax by 27 percent (Source: Ohio Daily Blog, June 30, 2008).

Today, the federal debt stands at $14 trillion, and as noted above, every spending originated in the House of Representatives. Those representatives cannot seriously call themselves “conservative” in the primary, when they return to D.C. year after year and actively grow the debt.

Most congressmen, including Rep. Schmidt, hold “safe seats,” and for them, November is a foregone conclusion. The real contest is on March 6, when Ohioans choose the GOP candidate who will go on to win OH-2 in the fall.

Yet, that’s when only 1 in 10 registered Ohioans will show up to vote. That’s a lot of power in voters’ hands, assuming they vote in the primary.

Michael Smith
Campaign for Primary Accountability


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