We should hold our elected officials to the standards Justin Amash continues to set

bookJustin Amash, US Representative from Michigan’s third congressional district, has become a superstar in the liberty movement within the Republican Party. Not only does he dare speak up about issues with a libertarian bias, he actually votes as a fiscal conservative. This quite often puts him at odds with the crony-capitalist rampant within the Republican Party. However this is not the only reason people should be watching Rep. Amash’s actions. The real reason to keep an eye on this elected official that he publishes the reason for every vote casts on Facebook.

If you look at his Facebook page you will see his brief thoughts on every vote along with how he voted. Here is an example for HR807 (which I blogged about previously) :

I voted no on H R 807, Full Faith and Credit Act, which effectively raises the debt ceiling by exempting certain items from its calculation. I cosponsored the original text of this bill, which required the Department of the Treasury, in the event we reached the statutory debt limit, to simply prioritize its spending and use daily revenues to pay the principal and interest due on the national debt. This type of prioritization is appropriate and would prevent a sovereign default.

The Committee on Ways and Means decided to strip out this language and replace it with a partial debt ceiling elimination bill. Under the amended bill, when the debt limit is reached, the Treasury *must* continue borrowing and increasing the national debt to pay debt service and Social Security, even though revenues are more than enough to cover these items. And this borrowing—more than $300 billion in 2013 and over $800 billion (estimated) by 2021—would be *exempt* from the debt limit. In short, this bill eliminates the debt ceiling with respect to two large (and growing) areas of the budget, and it’s the first step toward eliminating the entire debt ceiling—the most important structural restraint we have on government borrowing.

Unfortunately, House Rules prevented me from removing myself as a cosponsor of this legislation, despite my opposition to the Committee-amended version. (Cosponsors may not be changed after a bill is reported from Committee.) And my amendment to mitigate some of the problems with this bill was (inexplicably) ruled out of order by the Republican-controlled Committee on Rules.

It passed 221-207.

He then posts a followup link showing how everyone voted. The above post has a follow-up link of http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2013/roll142.xml.

The pure amount of information he has in this post is great. He explains his understanding of the bill. In this case also explained why voted no, despite the fact he was originally a co-sponsor of the bill. I would love to see the explanation of other elected officials and why they voted yes or no on it. If I had not read his comments I wouldn’t have realized how much the bill had changed from its original form.

In addition to posting his votes he will also reply to questions in regards to those votes. Here is a post about an amendment he voted yes for on HR807:

I voted yes on the Camp of MI Amendment to H R 807, Full Faith and Credit Act. Comically, the amendment prohibits any of the debt obligations that the bill requires to be issued to pay principal and interest on the debt or Social Security from being used to pay the salaries of Members of Congress. There’s nothing in the underlying bill that allows such obligations to be diverted for this use, so this part of the amendment makes no sense.

The amendment also clarifies the Department of the Treasury’s reporting requirements under the bill. The amendment passed 340-84.

When looking in the comments of this post someone asks “So… why did you vote yes then?”. Here is his reply:

The second part is good. The first part has no legal effect. That means there’s a marginal improvement to the bill.

Can you imagine? A politician actually taking time to answer questions. Especially since Justin has no idea if a person asking the question will/won’t vote for him. He simply posts every vote and answers questions (within reason) because it’s the right thing to do.

No matter how people feel about Rep. Amash’s political views they should be applauding his voting record communication. There is no doubt as to why he votes yes or no. He has done this since first elected as a state legislature years ago and continues to do so now that  he is in the House of Representatives.

The only question I have now is: Why don’t more elected officials do this?

 

PS. I left this post with a highly rhetorical question. I understand why politicians wouldn’t want their voting records posted along with the reasoning.  That’s exactly why voters should be hounding elected officials to do so!

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