Upton a better fit than Hoogendyk for 6th District
That Congressman Fred Upton rubs diehard conservatives the wrong way isn't new. Long before the Tea Party movement gained strength, far right partisans in Southwest Michigan longed for someone like Jack Hoogendyk, Upton's Republican primary opponent in August, to displace Upton.That's what the big banks claimed when they wanted a bailout. There is no evidence to support this, and the HP provides none. The TARP bailout created a giant slush fund run by the executive branch without congressional input. It was promoted to bail out the mortgage market but funnelled to the big banks by former Goldman Sachs employees. And even if we assume that the banks had to be bailed out, what was the justification for bailing out the managements, so that they kept their jobs after running their companies into bankruptcy?
Should that happen, our question to Hoogendyk supporters is, then what? Perhaps the very conservative resident of Kalamazoo would win in November, but he is not well-positioned to retain the seat in the future.
Upton, of St. Joseph, with his occasional moderate tendencies, is far better suited to hold off Democratic challengers in a district that voted for President Obama in 2008 and twice supported Bill Clinton in the 1990s.
We view it as a plus that Upton does not adhere to the ideological purity standards that hard right conservatives insist upon. Two recent examples come to mind: the auto industry bailout and the TARP financial bailout.
Hoogendyk, with his strong libertarian tendencies, opposed both measures on grounds that government should not intrude to such an extent into private business affairs. That's fine in a world in which harsh consequences don't matter. Our world view is more in line with Upton's, who well understood that all of Michigan, including the 6th District, would have suffered tremendously had GM and Chrysler gone under. The financial bailout vote offers a similar example. In our mind Upton's support signaled a willingness to accept facts on the ground and vote accordingly. Had giant U.S. banks been allowed to fail in 2008, the economic devastation that followed would have rivaled or exceeded the Great Depression.
Hoogendyk, a former three-term state House member, may pass a Tea Party purity test, but too often he doesn't pass the common sense test. That said, by challenging Upton, Hoogendyk has forced the congressman to defend himself and his votes to his Republican base. There is value in this process.There is no sense in which Upton is a fiscal conservative. He has voted for almost every budget-busting appropriations bill for decades. He supported the Medicare Part D prescription drug program, which added 17 trillion to the off-books present value national debt. You can argue that the bailout was necessary, but you cannot argue that it was fiscally conservative. Is was not.
Upton, it should be noted, is no 51 percent Republican. [According to the American Conservative Union, he's a 72% conservative.] He remains committed to fiscal conservatism and has generally fought against President Obama's liberal agenda. Upton also has consistently performed exemplary constituent services, something that should not be overlooked by voters.
While this blog doesn't question that Upton is good at constituent service, it is primarily necessary because of the very government bureaucracies that Upton has repeatedly voted to fund and expand. Then, when they mistreat taxpayers, congressmen can heroically intervene. As Bastiat said, they are "concocting the antidote and the poison in the same laboratory"
We urge 6th District Republican primary voters to send Upton into the fall election to vie for a 13th term. In this contest of pragmatism vs. purity, Upton is clearly the best choice.At least the HP brings up issues that Upton has studiously avoided.
(An opinion of The Herald-Palladium editorial board)