Upton's voting record belies his conservative claims

Michigan moderate GOPer Rep. Fred Upton is making some interesting claims in his push to become chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee in the 112th Congress. Unfortunately, his voting record doesn't square with his claims.

In a Nov. 15 colleague letter, Upton promised if he becomes chairman of the panel to pursue a “conservative agenda that focuses on cutting spending, removing the regulatory burden, restoring freedom, keeping government accountable through rigorous oversight, and jobs.”

But that's exactly the sort of lip service to conservative principles too many Republicans thought was enough to keep the congressional majority they gained in 1994. They talked the talk of conservative principles, but when they didn't walk it, the chickens came home to roost in 2006.

Upton's campaign now is an unpleasant reminder of the mind-set that led to the 2006 disaster. He says the right words, but his voting record in recent years speaks a different message. For example:

* Upton was one of only 16 GOPers who supported in 2009 House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's omnibus spending bill that increased spending 8.4 percent on top of the $787 billion stimulus program.

* Upton was one of nine GOPers who opposed in 2009 an amendment by Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., that would have substituted an array of tax cuts and credits for the Obama-Pelosi-Reid stimulus program.

* Upton was one of 43 GOPers who opposed in 2009 a Republican amendment to cut the Democrats' stimulus bill by $355 billion.

* Upton was one of 20 GOPers who opposed in 2009 a Republican amendment to cut Environmental Protection Agency funding to its 2008 level.

* Upton was one of 34 GOPers who voted in 2009 for the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act that removed millions of acres of federal lands from energy exploration and production.

* Upton was one of 19 GOPers who voted in 2009 for a Democratic amendment directing the secretary of education to establish an advisory council for “high-performing” green public schools, thus further entrenching environmental radicals in the public education system.

* Upton was one of 29 GOPers who voted for the Democrats' bill establishing the Santa Cruz National Heritage area along the U.S./Mexican border, which effectively prevents the U.S. Border Patrol from doing its work along the border.

* Upton was one of 26 GOPers who voted in 2009 for significantly increased funding for AmeriCorps.

* Upton voted for the Bush $700 billion Wall Street bailout twice in 2008.

* Upton voted for the Obama revision of the Bush bailout in 2009.

* Upton was one of 40 GOPers who voted in 2009 for the Democrats; doubling of the State Children's Health Insurance Program's budget.

* Upton was one of more than 40 GOPers who voted in 2007 and 2008 to override President Bush's veto of spending increases for SCHIP.

* Upton was one of 35 GOPers who voted in 2008 for Rep. Charlie Rangel's bill raising taxes on energy companies to provide tax subsidies for renewable energy special interests.

* Upton was one of 26 GOPers who voted in 2007 for federally mandated incandescent light bulbs.

* Upton was one of three GOPers who voted in 2005 against extending the Bush capital gains tax cut.

In other words, Upton voted frequently with a small minority of moderate House GOPers to support Democratic proposals for more federal spending, increased national debt, higher taxes, and more costly bureaucratic regulation, especially on environmental and energy issues.

Thanks to the tea party, merely talking like a conservative won't cut it anymore. House GOP leaders claim to have gotten that message. What they do with Upton will prove it one way or the other.

Mark Tapscott is editorial page editor of The Washington Examiner.

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