News Story

Two Democrats Join Republicans at Top of Tea Party Scorecard

Ratings shows bipartisanship on issues like fee increases, corporate welfare

The tea party movement is largely seen as part of the conservative plank of the Republican Party, but on one yearly scorecard, a Michigan tea party group rates two Democrats and two Republicans at the top of the list for voting in line with its ideals.

The Clarkston-based Independents for Responsible Government focuses on the "three goals of fiscally responsible government, limited government, and private sector job growth" and has been around since 2010. On its most recent scorecard, four representatives in the State House tied for first, voting 64 percent with bills the group selected to score: Rep. Scott Dianda, D-Calumet; Rep. Doug Geiss, D-Taylor; Rep. Ken Goike, R-Ray Township; and Rep. Tom McMillin, R-Rochester Hills.

Rep. Geiss said he doesn't take notes on pleasing people outside his district, but the votes cited by the group have crossover appeal.

"I may not align with them on always voting 'no taxes,' " Rep. Geiss said, adding that there is a balance on revenue for government and funding programs. "It looks like I agreed with their viewpoint on pension issues and [select corporate subsidies]."

The most recent scorecard focuses on areas like corporate welfare, education choice, pension double-dipping, fees and Medicaid expansion.

Ray Hamman, the leader of the group, said that previous legislative sessions normally have Republicans at the top of the card, but this time in the Senate the five lowest scores were from the GOP.

Because of the current importance the group placed on Medicaid expansion, which is a key component of implementing Obamacare, Hamman said the group scored two votes on the issue.

"In Michigan, the issue getting the most attention is the Medicaid expansion, which is strongly opposed by most conservative groups," Hamman said. "Obamacare is a major reason that tea parties were started, and we have an opportunity to send a message by not volunteering to build the health care exchange in Michigan and not accepting the bribes for a costly and ineffective Medicaid expansion. Obamacare is a disaster for both deficit spending and effective health care, and we must do everything we can to replace it with an effective, market based solution for providing health care services."

He said other areas like fee increases and select subsidies should not be overlooked, and that recent votes showed most Republicans supporting fee increases with most Democrats opposed.

"Until the Legislature takes serious actions to actually stop wasteful and unnecessary spending, there is no justification for any tax increases, for anything," Hamman said. "Corporate welfare like the movie and green energy subsidies are an obvious place to start. Unfortunately corporate welfare is probably the best example of bipartisanship — both parties love giving taxpayer money to favored businesses. This practice is so harmful that we publish a special extract of the scorecard focused on corporate welfare, and the scores are consistently abysmal — most legislators in both parties score zero."

Hamman praised the Legislature for the past session when the GOP had a "historic" vote and passed the state's right-to-work law. But, he added, "I hope they don't think that gives them a free pass on fee and tax increases, or continuing the ultimately corrupting practice of corporate welfare."

Rep. Geiss said there are many ways to find common ground between the political parties.

"When you take individual issues, none of us are predetermined," Rep. Geiss said. "I can agree with people in the Republican Party and they can agree with my position, that's the reality of government. We have to represent our districts. I think people want to paint both parties as having this animosity. That has not been the case in my four-and-a-half years there."

Citizens interested in tracking how their legislators vote can do so easily at:

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.