Effective GOP leadership still absent on Capitol Hill

News reports are that Republicans in the U.S. Congress are still confused about their mission, and so rank and file Republicans can’t expect much in the way of progress from our elected “leaders” in Washington any time soon.

The Wall Street Journal reports this:

The Republican Study Committee, a caucus of conservative GOP House Members, and the House Republican leadership don’t quite see eye to eye on the study committee’s new “action plan.” Modeled on the 1994 “Contract with America,” the plan was drawn up by Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas.

The idea was that the “action plan” was something GOP congressional candidates could run on as a team from coast to coast. We like the concept and noted our view about how it works when everyone pretends that they can succeed running as a lone ranger.

One of its most contentious measures is its very first, an immediate and unilateral earmark moratorium… One GOP House Member, despairing over this internal sniping, asked: “Are these guys really our leadership?”

It’s better late than never for that question to be asked. Some of us far outside the beltway have been asking similar questions for many years.

“GOP voters are still getting a confused message.” Nicholas Desai writes in the Journal. No kidding.

The Politico reports that even Republicans who are retiring from the U.S. House are causing problems.

Republican Reps. Vito J. Fossella of New York, Ray LaHood of Illinois, Jim Ramstad of Minnesota, Ralph Regula of Ohio and Jim Walsh of New York all crossed party lines recently to join with Democrats on a tight vote to extend unemployment insurance – even though they won’t be around to suffer the potential political consequences of voting no.

We liked this summation from the article:

Insiders and members of Congress say there are many reasons that independent-minded Republicans might continue to buck their party on the way out the door. Some members may want to show that they can work across the aisle – a useful résumé-builder for those looking for jobs lobbying a Democrat-controlled Congress.

It’s not a surprise to us that this is part of the sad reality in our nation’s capital, and we’re sure not surprised to see the name of Illinois’ own Ray LaHood. All of this is just one more reason why we’re calling for a Republican renaissance and political reformation.

The Politico article goes on to outline how the members who are retiring feel good about being able to cast “difficult” voters without fear of reprisal from voters. It’s just as well they’re retiring, since they sure haven’t done much to move public opinion so such votes would be made easier.

Rep. Judy Biggert – an Illinois Republican who has been targeted by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee – stuck with the GOP leadership on last week’s unemployment vote. She said the vote was “hard to explain” because of the high jobless rate in her district, but she said that she didn’t ask or expect any of her retiring colleagues to help her out.

Explaining why something is BAD policy is only difficult when you don’t understand the policy. I suspect Rep. Biggert also doesn’t know what can be done so in the future more of her constituents would understand that kind of vote.

Ray LaHood is feeling really good about his upcoming retirement. Politico quotes him saying,

“No more fundraising, no more parades…I can do whatever I want on the weekends. I can accept whatever invitation that I want and regret many without feeling bad about it.”

Ray doesn’t feel nearly as good about his retirement as the rest of us. Politico cites just one example – his recent “prominent public role in pushing for an expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program.”

LaHood claimed to have received a lot of kudos for doing so, and said,

“I think when you vote your district, you vote your conscience. They’re synonymous. People vote the values of the people they represent.”

A little problem occurs when a majority of a district doesn’t understand that expanding middle class entitlement programs is a pretty stupid thing to do when our federal government is trillions in debt and can’t afford what it’s already doing. We never expected Ray LaHood to help clear up any of that confusion, and he didn’t disappoint.

©2008 John Francis Biver