Sen. Pat Toomey On The KD/PG Sunday Edition
Conservative voters in PA-18 can be excused for thinking Rep. Tim Murphy is one of them. Before every primary, when his seat is in play, Rep. Murphy sings the conservative tune on his web site, in ads, and on the stump. His Washington voting record, however, tells a different story.
First elected in 2002, Rep. Murphy entered his fifth term at the bottom of the fiscal-conservative lists. The Club for Growth, for example, ranked him the lowest-scoring House Republican in Pennsylvania for 2007, 2008, and 2009. (Club for Growth PAC was an early and consistent supporter of Sen. Pat Toomey against the profligate and eventual turncoat Sen. Arlen Specter.)
Other watchdog groups, such as Citizens Against Government Waste and the National Taxpayers’ Union, have never scored Rep. Murphy’s record above 69 percent – in league with the American Conservative Union’s ranking him dead-last among all House Republicans for 2008, 2009, and 2010.
When free-spending Democrats took over the U.S. House in 2007, they found Rep. Murphy an ally in taking the nation further into debt. His voting record placed him 17th worst for GOP unity in 2007, 12th worst in 2008, 4th worst in 2009, and 10th worst in 2010. In 2009, only two other House Republicans outscored him in support of President Obama’s agenda.
It seems the more power Democrats have, the more Rep. Murphy votes like them.
His record on spending could be fairly characterized as “oblivious to cost.” In the 2008 session, Rep. Murphy requested more in earmarks than any other Pennsylvania Republican. He also voted against 138 amendments designed to strip earmarks out of spending bills over three years.
But aren’t earmarks just Congressmen’s way of ensuring their districts get their cut of the federal pie? Perhaps that would make sense if the federal budget were anywhere near balanced. Each year, Congress borrows more than a trillion dollars just to fill the gap between income and outgo.
With a $15.6 trillion running “bar tab,” this wild party is bound to end in an ugly hangover for everyone. No state, no Congressional district, and no taxpayer will escape responsibility for the bills their own elected officials have run up.
Instead of reckoning with the problem, Rep. Murphy returns to D.C. each year calling for another round. Since January 2003, he voted five times to raise the federal debt ceiling. For appearance’s sake, after Democrats took control of the House, he voted against raising the limit — when his vote couldn’t have made a difference.
President Obama’s economic agenda appeals to Rep. Murphy in another destructive way, as well. In 2007, Rep. Murphy defied conservative, pro-growth principles in voting for the deceptively named Employee Free Choice Act of 2007. Also known as “card check,” this measure would have denied workers the protection of a mandatory secret ballot when unions attempt to take over their workplace. Rep. Murphy’s support drew a scathing write up in the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, which called it “opportunism in pursuit of self-serving political survival.”
Rep. Murphy’s stand earned him a 2008 general-election endorsement from Teamsters Joint Council 40 … which also endorsed Barack Obama for president.
Rep. Murphy’s actions in office suggest a lack of seriousness about fiscal responsibility, and his self-proclaimed conservatism rings hollow in light of his actions. (His high pro-life scores might redeem his record somewhat if Congress cared as much about abortion as it does about spending to excess.)
For voters, the only opportunity to rebuke Rep. Murphy’s “my way” brand of conservatism is the 2012 primary. Recall that in 2010, a Tea Party-inspired movement shifted the U.S. House’s makeup by about 15 percent, enough for a working GOP majority. Now those same conservative voters are looking hard at the GOP primaries, the only opportunity to replace the “squishy” Republicans still jeopardizing our economic future with challengers intent on restoring limited government.
Nationally, only about 10 percent of registered voters participate in the primaries. That means only five percent, plus one vote, makes a majority in “safe” districts such as Rep. Murphy’s, where the boundaries are carefully drawn to prevent any Democrat from collecting enough votes to win his seat in November.
Will the conservative voters of PA-18 take this one opportunity?
Guest blog by Michael Smith who is an activist with the Campaign for Primary Accountability