Friday, July 30, 2010

Fred Upton's Ten Worst Votes

Congressman Fred Upton has been in Congress since 1986, and has cast a lot of votes in that time. Some have been good and some have been bad. A few fall into the 'really bad' category. Here follow Upton's ten worst votes.

1. [2003] Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit. HR 1 (Roll Call 669)
This bill, passed largely with Republican support, created the first new government entitlement program since Lyndon Johnson's Great Society. Incredibly, this program created an unfunded liability of $17 TRILLION dollars added to the off-books national debt. (This is present value calculation, that is, this is how much the government would have to have on hand NOW, earning interest, to meet future liabilities.) This program will go a long way toward bankrupting America, destroying the dollar, and wrecking the economy. It will impoverish future generations to accommodate today's elderly and subsidize the big drug companies. This program is unconstitutional, as Congress has no power under the Constitution to create such a program.

2. [2008] Financial Services Industry (TARP) Bailout. HR 1424 (Roll Call 681)
The bailout passed in late 2008 opened the door for all the abuses of the Constitution that have followed. It gave 700 billion dollars (or more) to the executive branch to distribute as it saw fit, bypassing legislative oversight or public scrutiny. Much of the money was funnelled to giant Wall Street banks. This rewarded them for the failure of their risky investments and bad lending practices. Reducing the disincentive against bad investments will lead to more of them, so the bailout will lead to more economic trouble and more bailouts in the future. The bailout was unconstitutional as Congress has no power under the Constitution to do it.
See also: Stop the Bailout!

3. [2007] Energy Policy. HR 6 (Roll Call 1177)
This bill, championed by Upton, contained a grab-bag of government spending and regulation. The worst feature is an increase in the 'CAFE' fuel economy standards. Numerous studies have shown that they cause more than a thousands deaths in car crashes per year by raising prices of heavier cars enough to push people to buy lighter, less safe cars. The bill also contains an effective ban on the incandescent light bulb by regulating it out of existence starting in 2012. This bill is unconstitutional.
See also: Upton's Light Bulb Ban

4. [2002] Iraq War.
While most Republicans supported the Iraq War at the time, its costs have vastly exceeded projections. Some estimates put the costs, including future veterans' benefits, at over a trillion dollars. Several thousand American soldiers have lost their lives. The effects on the long-term security of the United States and the Middle East remain uncertain.

5. [2009] Planned Parenthood. HR 3293 (Roll Call 643).
This is only the latest in a long line of Upton's votes supporting abortion funding. As described by the American Conservative Union (ACU): "The House defeated an amendment to the Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations bill that would have eliminated funding for Planned Parenthood family planning services, which includes abortion services. ACU has always opposed Planned Parenthood and federal involvement in this area as unconstitutional, but the amendment was defeated July 24, 2009 by a vote of 183-247."

6. [1993] Brady Bill.
This bill imposed several major restrictions on gun rights. The worst was a five-day 'waiting period' on the purchase of a handgun, which could easily make the difference between life and death in an emergency situation. (This provision expired in 1998.) This bill also established the principle that commercial gun sales are illegal until the government approves. This makes possible the creation of a national database of gun owners. This bill is unconstitutional, and parts of it were later declared so by the Supreme Court.

7. [1993] NAFTA. HR 3450 (Roll Call 575)
While NAFTA was sold as a 'free trade' agreement, it was a managed trade agreement which contains hundreds of pages of regulations of trade. It has led to job losses and outsourcing. NAFTA also created transnational courts that claim the power to overrule laws passed by Congress or the states. NAFTA was unconstitutional because it should have been treated as a treaty subject to 2/3 ratification in the Senate.

8. [2002] Campaign Speech Limits. HR 2356 (Roll Call 34)
Upton voted for the McCain-Feingold bill after having supported many similar bills over the years. This bill put many restrictions on criticism of Congress through television and radio ads. These included banning advocating that a member of Congress support or oppose a bill 60 days before an election, even if he is not on the ballot. The bill contained many loopholes that could be exploited by wealthy special interests, but effectively prohibited average citizens from criticising Congress effectively with the threat of huge fines for violation of vague regulations. This bill is unconstitutional, and major portions of it have been declared so by the Supreme Court.

9. [2001] No Child Left Behind.
This bill, largely written by Ted Kennedy, significantly increased federal spending on the Department of Education. It also increased government regulations and imposed unrealistic mandates on teachers and schools. It is unconstitutional.

10. [2008] Mortgage Bailout Program. HR 3221 (Roll Call 301).
ACU description: "The House adopted a bill expanding the government-sponsored housing authorities, guaranteeing loans made by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac while reducing their capital by creating a $4 billion trust fund available to ACORN and other groups. ACU opposed the federal takeover of these entities but the bill was passed May 8, 2008 by a vote of 266-154."

Dishonorable Mention:
[2009] Omnibus Appropriations for FY 2009. HR 1105 (Roll Call 86). Voted for this incredibly bloated spending bill.
[2008] “Stimulus” Spending Bill. HR 7110 (Roll Call 660). Voted for the wasteful and counterproductive 2008 'stimulus' spending bill.
[1998] Clinton Impeachment. Voted against impeachment of President Bill Clinton on two of four counts.
[1994] Crime Bill. Voted for Bill Clinton's Crime Bill.
[many] Missile Defense. Voted numerous times against funding for systems to defend against nuclear missiles.

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