In 2010, 87 Republicans rode a wave of “tea party” momentum into Congress for the first time. They were elected on a populist mandate to cut government spending, cut taxes and reduce the national debt. Still in 2012, with Republicans like Richard Mourdock in Indiana, they promise to be the “anti-establishment” Republicans.
But are the tea party Republicans really that different from the so-called establishment? According to a report from Club for Growth, an organisation advocating conservative economic principles, there’s not much of a difference.
Club for Growth’s report studied 37 key issues and looked at the freshmen’s votes. They compared the votes with the club’s official position and determined their “club score” as a measure of how faithful the freshmen have been to the principles they advocated during their campaigns.
Their results? “Establishment” Republicans scored an average of 69 per cent. The freshmen scored an average of 71 per cent.
“We’re not interested in the rhetoric of elected officials,” said Barney Keller, a spokesman for the club. “We’re interested in the actions they take as members of Congress.”
Calling it “disappointing,” Keller added, “There’s essentially no difference in the voting patterns.”
Here’s a look at 10 of the worst offenders, either on score or on failure to live up to name recognition.
McKinley earns the dubious distinction of having the lowest club score -- it stands at 37 per cent.
Among his faults: McKinley voted against the Republican Study Committee budget, which proponents say would balance the budget in 10 years. He also voted against cutting energy subsidies and slashing most continuing appropriations spending by 5.5 per cent.
At least for his sake, he did vote to repeal Obamacare.
Allen West, tea party darling, scored only 64 per cent. He voted against cutting appropriations and against rolling back most spending to 2006 levels. And he voted to increase the debt limit.
'Allen West has voted repeatedly against spending cuts, and he voted to raise the debt ceiling,' Keller said. 'Which indicates to us that he's not really committed to the tea party ideals of limited government and fiscal responsibility that got him elected.'
In 2010, Bass ran on a platform claiming that his agenda was 'exactly the same' as the tea party's. As the Club for Growth noted in a release accompanying the report, he scored a 'pathetic' 48 per cent in the club's report.
There's a common theme developing here: Voting to raise the debt ceiling, voting against cutting appropriations and rolling back spending to 2006 levels.
Hayworth is a 'tea party woman in New York,' New York Mag wrote last year, meaning she's a tea party woman that is constantly reminded of the moderate district she represents.
She scored a 56 per cent, like her counterparts lagging behind in the three key areas. But Keller said the club especially took note of Hayworth because it endorsed her in the 2010 election.
Club for Growth also endorsed Griffin in the 2010 election. He scored a 67 per cent, but that still lags behind the average Republican and tea party freshman, which was disappointing to the group.
On there? Yep, the debt ceiling, appropriations and the Republican Study Committee budget.
Eagles fan? You might remember Jon Runyan as their right tackle for much of the 2000s. As part of the tea party wave, he outed 19-year Rep. John Adler in 2010. Now, he's voting on the wrong side of Club for Growth's key three issues.
GovTrack.us identifies Meehan as one of the most moderate conservatives in Congress. He was the second worst member of the House, according to the centre for Growth. But according to the Independence Hall Tea Party Association, Meehan scores a 70.
On Club for Growth, the key three issues hurt him as well.
The IHTPA identifies some areas that differ with the Club for Growth: Meehan supports the Paul Ryan budget, offshore drilling and defunding Planned Parenthood.
The top of Dold's chart is bright red. He voted against the grain on the key three issues, plus: cutting energy subsidies and cutting Amtrak spending, among others.
And in another item of news that can't make tea party-types happy, Dold introduced a bill to prevent blocking funding to planned parenthood.
Another Pennsylvania Representative. Another case where tea party organisations disagree on their scoring for the Representative.
Fitzpatrick scored a 43 per cent in the Club for Growth's survey, vs. the Independence Hall Tea Party's 73 per cent. Like Meehan, Fitzpatrick goes against the grain of the Club for Growth's key issues, but he supports the Ryan budget, offshore drilling and defunding Planned Parenthood.
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