This morning the New York Times ran a story about Congressman Steve King of Iowa’s 4th District. He is one of the leaders of the current shutdown of the U.S. government. It intrigued me because on October 2, 2013 the Times also listed 20 Congresspeople who were part of this minority movement in the House and the Republican Party. Mr. King was one of them.
I was curious to compare Federal spending versus Federal revenue from each of their districts. The University of Delaware did a study which computed the former for 2010. Unfortunately, the government report that enabled them to run these numbers was not funded by the Congress thereafter, no doubt in the interest of government transparency. Using the 2010 numbers and recognizing that given gerrymandering by both parties over the last few years, even if their predecessor retired, it is likely that funding might remain similar. Only four of the 20 were not in their same Congressional seat since 2010. Two districts I could not find in the University of Delaware data: Steve Stockman of Texas’ 1st District (a first term Congressman) and Tom Graves of Georgia’s 14th District, a 3 term Congressman. Each won their last election with over 70% of the vote.
The University of Delaware ranked Congresspeople by total Federal spending brought to their district and also provided revenue on a per capita basis. The latter is more interesting.
Steve King was ranked 332 which is not too far the those who brought the least amount to their district on a nominal basis. On a per capita basis Federal spending in his district was $14,084. It was not near those in the group of 20 who were near the top of ranking on a nominal basis, but it was about the same as those ranked 140th. The range per capita is roughly between $9000 and $35000. In contrast, Michele Bachmann, the well-known T-Party Congressperson, is 381 on the list and per capita number was $9,496. She like David Schweikert of Arizona’s 6th (235/ $9512), Justin Amash of Michigan’s 3rd (424/$9392) and Jim Jordan of Ohio’s gerrymandered 4th (414/ $10,679) walk the talk. Then there are Ron DeSantis of Florida’s 6th (33/$25,973), and John Fleming of Lousiana’s 4th (43/$27,971). Given that no new numbers are currently available it cannot be verified whether first term Congressmen Ted Yoho of Florida’s 1st (previously 26/$34,883) and Matt Salmon of Arizona’s 5th (previously 62/$23,694) return as much Federal spending to their district as their predecessors. Given that Messrs. Salmon and Yoho seem to be in safe seats, having won their elections by at least 65%, it is likely they have done as well.
Unfortunately, the American public does not receive an annual statement of spending largess and revenue contribution by Congressional district, to sort hypocrites from true believers (or the less powerful or less capable). Congresspeople often tout the Federal projects and revenue they bring to their district. When they want to cut Federal spending, it is usually someone else’s.
The most recent exercise of Congressional foolishness is becoming less innocent. Politics aside, The House does not have the power to stop the Affordable Care Act because the healthcare industry has already restructured to comply with it. Not funding it means nothing, except a perversion of our democratic process. Full faith and credit underlies governments, both domestically and internationally. It is more than monetary. If not funding laws that were legally passed becomes the process and if that process is extended to not funding the government as a whole, our system will revert to a Confederation. A return to States’ rights may be the ultimate goal, and Congressional ineptitude and the conservative Supreme Court may already have moved the pendulum.
Regardless of belief, we are a Federal system. The ideologues who are blackmailing the government while bringing substantial Federal revenue home to their districts are not helping their political cause. Senior Republicans know this. It was more than likely that they could have captured both houses of Congress in 2014 and legitimately amended laws they did not like. If they funded the government and raised the debt ceiling they would bring more attention to the execution of Obamacare: failed systems and processes. This would actually help their cause.
As always in Washington, it is not about policy, it is about politicians. Across the spectrum it is about keeping their jobs, while they put everyone else out of work. What is the message that they are sending about government service to the young people in this country?
Maybe the Executive Branch should send a message to some of these hypocrites, by holding up Federal revenue to their districts. It might give them and some of their constituents some perspective about how our democratic system should work and what can happen when it doesn’t.
The 20 ideologues listed by the New York Time were:
David Schweikert- AZ 6th
Raul Labrador- ID 1st
Thomas Massie- KY 4th
Matt Salmon- AZ 5th
Mike Mulvaney- SC 5th
Ted Yoho-FL 3rd
Jim Jordan-OH 4th
Steve King- IA 4th
Tom Graves- GA 14th
Tim Huelskamp-KA 1st
John Fleming- LA 4th
Phil Gingrey- GA 11th
Justin Amash- MI 3rd
Louie Golmert- TX 1st
Michele Bachmann- MN 6th
Jim Bridenstine- OK 1st
John Culberson- TX 7th
Ron DeSantis-FL 6th
Jeff Duncan-SC 3rd
Steve Stockman-TX 36th