Responding to Americans For Tax Reform

This weekend, I posted about the absurdity of naming Rep. Don Young a "Taxpayer Hero".  To their credit, Americans For Tax Reform showed up in the comment section to argue their case.  I disagree with them, but it's admirable that they are willing to engage in the discussion publicly. 

We had one exchange - his comment, my response - but instead of carrying on the debate in a days-old comment section, why don't we open it up to the Next Right community to evaluate, discuss, defend or debate.  Here is the latest response of the ATR Tax Policy Director.

Since you took the time to respond to my argument, I thought I'd take the time to respond to your points.

--is a metric that judges Young to be a "Hero of the Taxpayer" a useful metric?

Is your issue here just with the title of the award, or the fact that he got one?  The fact is that Young was perfect on tax votes last year.  He was even pretty good on spending votes (farm bill, budget resolution), but this is a tax-based award.  We're not saying 435 Don Youngs would be good for the House.  We're saying Don Young voted right on tax votes.

In fact, Don Young has gone south on taxes in 2008.  He voted for a $54 billion income tax increase to pay for the Veterans' Education bill.  You can see the specific roll call below:

http://clerk.house.gov/cgi-bin/vote.asp?year=2008&rollnumber=330

As a result of his Pledge violation, Don Young is ineligible to receive the "Hero of the Taxpayer Award" for 2008 (the award in discussion is for 2007).  Like I said, we call em like we see em.  We've made it pretty clear to the people of Alaska that he's broken his Pledge.  But that doesn't change how he voted in 2007

--You can't be a taxpayer hero if you're also corrupt.

Sure you can.  If you vote for tax cuts and against tax increases, you're pro-taxpayer.  If you line your pockets, you're a crook.  Not mutually exclusive.

--You can't be a taxpayer hero if you're intentionally screwing taxpayers

True enough.  But the direct way that's measured is through tax votes.  In 2007, he voted against tax increases and for tax cuts.  In 2008, he didn't.  He qualifies in 2007, but not in 2008.

--You can't be a taxpayer hero when you're stuffing a bill full of pork.

Sure you can.  See the "corrupt" answer above.  It's hard to argue that wanting to have a puny earmark in a bill is an automatic disqualifier.  Even hundreds still add up to almost nothing.  Don't get me wrong--I'm for an earmark ban.  But do you really want support for earmarks to be a disqualifier for a tax award?  We'd be giving out the award to 50 Members each year, and no one would care about our tax keyvotes. 

This is a tax scorecard.  We score, by and large, on tax votes.  There are spending scorecards out there.  I'd never say that someone great on spending but iffy on taxes or guns should be disqualified from a spending scorecard.  It's insane.

--How much credibility should the ATR awards have?

Plenty.  First off, we had about 170 House winners out of 200 or so GOP Congressmen.  We had 50 fewer winners than last year.  We announce most of our keyvotes before they happen.  Transparency, hands on the table, etc.  It's clean.

Second, ask your average GOP Member of Congress what handful of scorecards they pay attention to.  I guarantee you he will say the ATR scorecard.  He won't rank any other fiscal group nearly as high.

So, we have a selective and transparent award which moves votes in Congress.  I'd call that credible.

--Does ATR want to be in the business of providing cover to guys like Don Young?

We're in the business (in this context) of scoring Members of Congress on (mostly) tax votes.  Sometimes our friends get screwed.  Sometimes bad actors on non-tax issues (like Young) get an award.  That's the numbers.  Would you rather that we set up the award, saw that Young won, and then manipulated it?  That's what it sounds like to me.

My final comment is a plea to everyone.  What would you have us do?  Would you have us spend a year sending keyvotes to the Hill (which causes Members to vote a certain way), compile the awards, and then throw the whole thing out the window when a Don Young slips in?  How do you think that would go over when we tell an office the next time that a keyvote really matters?  They'd laugh in our face because they'd know the system was rigged.

I understand that ATR's focus is on tax issues, but I simply don't see how you can distinguish between taxation and spending.  As Milton Friedman has pointed out, the burden on the public is not really the level of taxes, but the level of spending, and a tax cut is not a tax cut unless it is accompanied by spending reductions.  

A "Taxpayer Hero" award that ignores non-tax vote behavior just gives the villains a chance to look like a hero while they're robbing the bank.

But let's open this up to the NXR Community.  Debate, defend, disagree and suggest alternatives for Americans For Tax Reform.   They are willing to have the conversation publicly, so let's have it.

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Comments

ATR does make a signficant distinction

between taxing and spending. That's an ideological difference that you have with supply siders, not just ATR and this issue.

And don't get me wrong. I hope and expect that Don Young gets lead off in hand-cuffs. I just don't see what other options ATR really had on this issue. Perhaps they could have scored more earmarks related votes? That would have hurt a lot of leadership this cycle. That's not a bad thing, just reality.

Taxpayer hero vs. guy who votes against taxes

Given ATR's criteria for Taxpayer Hero, sure Don Young and 170 members of the GOP caucus. Whatever.

My beef is that the ATR's definition of Taxpayer Hero viz. guy who votes against taxes, is way too narrow and does not in fact serve the interests of the taxpayer. Refusing to manage government's balance of payments whether by spending too much or providing for sufficient revenues does not benefit the average citizen taxpayer. I think the Don Young example, while by ATR's standard he must be included, richly highlights the failure of their standard to provide a meaningful measure of legislative excellence even in their preferred category.

Only Useless if Only Metric

ATR's metric would only be useless if it was the only metric available.

For instance:

CAGW rates Don Young at 28% or Unfriendly for 2006.

ACU rates him at 65% for 2007

Taxes are the focus of ATR, where spending is where CAGW focuses their efforts.  That's just the way it is.

Which problem is ATR solving?

I can see ATR's point and Soren's. Grover has built a system based on objectively scoring tax-related votes. You can't just throw that out the window.

But if I could suggest a technical change to the award criteria, it would be that Young's "going south" on 2008 votes automatically disqualifies him from receiving the 2007 award. The fact that we are 6 months into 2008 and we are celebrating votes from as long as 18 months ago should strike us as a little off. Young will use this award to get re-elected in the primary when he is undeserving of it based on his *ATR scored* 2008 votes. This seems contrary to the spirit of the Pledge. Perhaps ATR will respond to this?

From a broader perspective, though, I think we need to step back and reassess the Balkanization of the movement into single issue groups. Not only are fiscal conservatives divided from social and national security conservatives. But all the fiscal groups are disconnected from each other. We now have 5 or 6 earmark pledges. And we have tax groups at odds with spending groups on what constitutes a true fiscal conservative.

I would submit also that this is no longer the 1980s. Supply siders have won the argument, to some extent -- just look the Bush Administration's tax and spending policies. There is no longer as much of a need to distinguish from green eyeshades balanced budget types, who were once ascendant in the party. In fact, I'd argue that the time has come to swing the pendulum back a little towards a focus to spending restraint for the sake of the movement.

I'm not going to argue Young vs. Parnell in this thread. I am going to argue for the need for a new model, though. And this is exactly the type of discussion The Next Right was founded for.

Spending restraint

I know there are people who think that earmarks and spending restraint are intertwined subjects. I think that is unproven. The defeat of the "bridge to nowhere" earmark did not restrain spending at all. The exact same amount of money was spent, but on different things.

I regard it as a corruption issue more than a spending one. Earmarks tend to go to big money donors, in a "pay to play" type system. But banning earmarks won't solve that problem. They are one symptom of the problem, not the cause. As long as people are willing and able to make large "donations" to politicians, there will be some sort of quid pro quo. That's the market in action.

 

 

 

After reading through these I

After reading through these I think the two real criticisms of ATR's awards criteria are of message and timing.  I haven't seen anyone take issue with the votes they chose to score or their methodology for determining that Young did in fact score 90% on them.

But if I could suggest a technical change to the award criteria, it would be that Young's "going south" on 2008 votes automatically disqualifies him from receiving the 2007 award. The fact that we are 6 months into 2008 and we are celebrating votes from as long as 18 months ago should strike us as a little off. Young will use this award to get re-elected in the primary when he is undeserving of it based on his *ATR scored* 2008 votes. This seems contrary to the spirit of the Pledge. Perhaps ATR will respond to this?

Since I'm no longer employed by ATR, I don't speak on their behalf, but I think what Patrick is getting at is that since 7 months have passed since 2007 ended, it appears as if he's receiving an award for his current behavior.  I for one again think it would be far too subjective to retroactively rig 2007's objectively scored awards because of one's 2008 behavior, but perhaps getting these awards completed in, say, January or February of 2008 would avoid this problem.  This is a big lift, since ATR has 535 voting records to score and an awards ceremony for 170 people, not to mention coordinating with the other organizations giving awards that day.  I can also tell you they spend a lot of that time fielding calls from congressional offices pressuring them to rig the awards for bad members, and they don't do it. - the numbers are law.  I think maintaining that level of credibility is just as important when granting an award as when withholding one.  But perhaps getting the awards done earlier in the year would be helpful.

I think the other gripe is with an award called "Hero of the Taxpayer" going to someone like Young.  Fair enough that we all know in our bones that Young is not exactly fighting the good fight when it comes to our tax dollars, but these awards are intended to highlight the records of the Republican members who in fact have behaved as heroes of the taxpayers.  As I said before, occasionally someone like Young is going to get lucky and slip in there, or a good conservative is going to vote the wrong way on some scored bills and be denied an award, but the price of intellectual honesty is that sometimes it produces results that we don't like. 

Just wondering

As a former ATR employee, do you know if they use the calander year or government fiscal year in their scoring?

Calendar year, because that's

Calendar year, because that's how Congressional sessions are scheduled.

Responding to Tom

1. I make an argument below for holding the award ceremony when we do.

2. You are definitely correct about squishy Rs wanting us to monkey with the awards.  We tell them to get bent.  The scores are what they are--for good or ill.

Here's a question for the group: would you rather live in world without the ATR Hero of the Taxpayer award?  This would be a world where Congressmen would feel under decidedly less pressure to vote against tax hikes and for tax cuts.  That's not a world I want to live in.

ATR Awards

Here's a question for the group: would you rather live in world without the ATR Hero of the Taxpayer award? 

If you are going to give the award to someone under investigation for corruption then the answer is a definite yes. Doing that overrides any good that the award could accomplish.

It is a simple matter to put in a good character clause. Becoming the target of one or more corruption investigations should automatically disqualify a candidate for the award.

And who decides on character?

We're not a court of law.  We score tax votes.  You're asking for a simple tax scorecard to do too much.

Re: And who decides on character?

Your organization would decide, of course.

I'm simply saying that character matters when awards are given. I don't think it's a great burden to be aware that one of your award candidates is the subject of a corruption investigation when it's been all over the news.

But, that's just me and maybe a few thousand other conservative Republicans. 

 

 

 

Corruption Asterisk

So if someone is later exonerated by authorities, do we give him the award later?  Someone being under investigation is not the same thing as being guilty.

The thought is good, but it's totally, absolutely impractical.  To the accused later found innocent, it's even cruel.

In the real world, we need to make distinctions like "under investigation" and "under house arrest with an ankle bracelet."  It's easy to shoot from the hip inside of a comment box.  It's a bit harder when you have to do actual work with human beings.

Re: Corruption Asterisk

Thanks for explaining your reasons, DC. I appreciate knowing how these awards are decided and I can see you are firm on your award to Don Young.

Good to know where ATR stands. I found out where Huck Pac stands on Young yesterday. Very informative here.

 

 

Well you know Lynn,

It really is very informative here!  There's no place else quite like it, is there?  I think The Next Right is actually on to something. 

Our Award Is Not Based On Young

It's based on objective votes, as anyone would see here.

Huck PAC can do their thing.  We will do ours.  I'm thrilled Huck PAC exists.  Any sane conservative should be glad ATR does, unless you are o.k. with a 50% tax rate. 

I hope that the people of Alaska will listen to ATR when we tell them that Young has broken his Pledge in 2008.  I really, really hope.

If that's not integrity combined with realpolitik, I don't know what is.

Yes, I, too, see ATR's position more clearly.

Perhaps ATR, along with recognizing Republicans cutting taxes, should also have a "fleecing" of the taxpayer award to be announced during every primary season so the voting public can be informed.

ex animo

davidfarrar

Which Problem Is ATR Solving?

1. You suggest having Young's 2008 Pledge violation (which will disqualify him from receiving the award in 2008, incidentally) also serve as a disqualifier from the 2007 award.  That's simply unfair.  The 2007 award needs to be siloed for 2007.  It would be a bait and switch to tell Members that something they do in the future will affect their past behavior.

We also debated that in the Constitution.  It's called an ex post facto law.

As a counter-example, let's look at Cong. Phil English.  He, like Young, is a 2007 winner.  He, like Young, broke his Pledge in 2008 and won't be getting an award in 2008.  Unlike Young, he's been a top-ten leader on tax issues for years.  Do we punish him backwards, too?  How about to the beginning of his career?

No--each year must be siloed for the sake of fairness.

2. Being too late in the year.  Let's look at this from the perspective of your typical RSC member.  He's great on taxes, spending, and everything else.  Do you think he'd rather get his 2007 award in January 2008, or June 2008?  I'd venture a guess on June.

So you want to screw over the dozens of good guys just because Don Young might get a small boost?  Where are your priorities?

3. I think diversity is good for the movement.  We have a tax scorecard.  Our affiliate group ASA has a shareholder scorecard.  Our affiliate group AWF has a labor scorecard.  NTU has a spending scorecard.  CAGW has a Pig Book.  AFP has an energy pledge.  AFBI has a death tax pledge.  The Club has a "swearing off earmarks."

Let a thousand flowers bloom.

4. Not the 1980s.  Maybe.  We're certainly for spending restraint and hate earmarks.  But ATR is a tax organization.  We certainly haven't "won" the tax fight by any stretch of the imagination.  The last time I checked, we're still looking at a $2 trillion tax increase starting in 2011.  We don't have a flat tax.  We don't have Social Security personal accounts.  Grover and we are not ready to go home just yet.

I agree with ATR.

A "Taxpayer Hero" award that ignores non-tax vote behavior just gives the villains a chance to look like a hero while they're robbing the bank

What does that mean? That ATR should mark somebody down for not toeing the conservative line on guns or abortion? Or the Iraq War?

This site supports John McCain, a man whose transgressions against conservatism (including fiscal conservatism) exceed those of Young. A little consistency is in order.

 

Transgression?

There is no question that McCain has strayed on issues like immigration and speech (McCain-Feingold).  That doesn't explain how his "transgressions against conservatism (including fiscal conservatism) exceed those of Young". 

McCain has an excellent record on spending and tax issues.  His problem on taxes was that he allowed his rhetoric to get ahead of him and he started preaching like a "class warfare Democrat".  Admittedly not his best moment.  Do you recommend that we go to a 0% marginal tax rate?

You do a disservice to McCain AND yourself to even put Young in the same sentence as our presidential nominee.

Disagree.

McCain is a big government Republican who has little problem with increasing the size and scope of the Federal government. The WSJ called his global warming bill the biggest expansion in the size of the regulatory state since FDR.  And I don't think they were exaggerating.

As for his excellent record on tax issues, do you include his opposition to the Bush tax cuts on the grounds that they were "tax cuts for the rich"?

The Club For Growth scorecard for 2007 gives McCain an "n/a". He did not even vote on the legislation they were marking. And they were marking on twenty-six different votes.

 

 

 

 

"This Site" supports

"This site supports John McCain"

I wasn't aware that "this site" endorsed anyone, or supported anyone.  I know a lot of people here support McCain, some from no other position then it's the lessor of two evils.  I might be mistaken about this and missed some post by the founders endorsing McCain.

From a broader perspective, though, I think we need to step back and reassess the Balkanization of the movement into single issue groups. Not only are fiscal conservatives divided from social and national security conservatives. But all the fiscal groups are disconnected from each other. We now have 5 or 6 earmark pledges. And we have tax groups at odds with spending groups on what constitutes a true fiscal conservative.

The thing that historically bound those groups together was anti-Communism.  Now that that's a done deal, there needs to be some new, great unifiying cause.  Something so urgent and important that other issues can take a back seat to it.  And then we need a simple message, and a charasmatic spokesperson to articulate it to Republicans, and the general public.

Loss of respect for ATR

Had ATR simply given a simple "Don Young scored well on key tax votes in 2007" award, I would accept that. 

But the glowing letter from Grover Norquist praising Don Young for all he has done to protect the taxpayer's "hard-earned money" (which Don Young calls "my money") is just too over the top for me.

Furthermore, ATR defending their award based on the "170 winners" in the House does not show how meaningful their award is.  As bad as the House has been in misspending taxpayer money, increasing government regulation, raising the minimum wage, et. al., giving almost every Republican an award is a joke.  Yes, I would rather see ATR give only "50 Members each year" the Hero of the Taxpayer award, since only 50 or so members deserve it.

I am equally curious about the praise from the Alliance for Worker Freedom (which is affiliated with ATR), given Don Young's active support for the card check legislation and more of the AFL-CIO's agenda.

Combined with Grover's active fundraising for Arlen Specter and his ties to Jack Abramoff, I have very little respect left for ATR's head honcho.

Loss of Respect?

Why?  Let's examine your reasons:

1. Intensity of the praise.  It's a form letter.  Give me a break.  These things use glowing adjectives.  Seriously, did you want us to yank Young's press release and give him a less glowing one?  I never even thought about Don Young until this past weekend.

2. 170 winners.  Believe it or not, most House Republicans are solid on taxes.  Most have never voted for a tax increase.  Most have consistently voted for tax cuts.  Most are signers of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge.  Considering this is a tax scorecard, I'd be shocked if any fewer than 75% or so of the House GOP receive the award in any given year.  This is a baseline issue at this point.

3. Specter got a 65 in 2007, and was not an award recipient.  He has won it from time to time in the past, when he voted right most of the time.  Didn't happen in 2007.

4. I won't dignify the Abramoff remark with a reply since it's a cheap shot, not relevant to the discussion, and beneath the dignity of the commenter.

Setting the Worker Freedom Record Straight

As Executive Director of the Alliance for Worker Freedom, let me assure all of you that Don Young (R-AK) DID NOT receive a "Guardian of Worker Freedom" award with a score of 18.18% out of our ranking 11 votes.

However, Rep. Bill Young (R-FL) did receive the award with a score of 81.82%.

If you visit www.workerfreedom.org and goto our "Congressional Awards" page, you will see that only Members with 80% or higher get the award. You will also be able to view the data and the votes and the calculations.

The original link that was posted from Don Young's website even referred to the winner as Rep. Young (R-FL) which should now have been removed.

I willingly admit that a picture was taken with Rep. Young (R-AK) at the awards ceremony in the midst of all the chaos and confusion, he was ushered towards me and we did take a picture together. However, the press release his staff was given was clearly the release for Rep. Young (R-FL). At an event like that, where there are 20+ Congressmen in line for a photo, mistakes are sometimes made.

A letter was sent to both Congressman explaining the mix up. A copy of which can be seen here. Congratulations to Rep. Bill Young (R-FL).

Responding to Jon, Part Deux

Jon:

I didn't want my serial commenting to go on too long without responding to your main post.

1. Distinction between taxes and spending.  First off, we're concerned about spending and the cost of government.  In fact, "Cost of Government Day" is coming up in a couple of weeks.  Stay tuned for more on that.

Are spending and taxes inextricably related?  Yes.  Are they identical?  No.  Taxes are what the government takes from the people.  Spending is how the govenment allocates the stolen loot.  Related, but not identical.  Distinctions matter.  We're a tax group.  We rate on the tax side of the equation.

2. A tax cut is not a tax cut unless it's accompianied by spending reductions.  Tell that to Ronald Reagan.  He cut the top rate from 70% to 28%, and government spending went up.  I'd still call him a tax cutter.

3. Looking at non-tax voting behavior.  It's a tax scorecard.  If someone wants to get a good conservative profile of a member, they should combine the single-issue scorecards.  ATR.  Right to Life.  NRA.  Etc.  There are a few comprehensive scorecards out there (ACU comes to mind), but that's only one way to do it.  We're a tax group.

Again, Setting the Worker Freedom record straight

As Executive Director of the Alliance for Worker Freedom, let me assure all of you that Don Young (R-AK) DID NOT receive a "Guardian of Worker Freedom" award with a score of 18.18% out of our ranking 11 votes.

However, Rep. Bill Young (R-FL) did receive the award with a score of 81.82%.

If you visit www.workerfreedom.org and goto our "Congressional Awards" page, you will see that only Congressmen with 80% or higher get the award. You will also be able to view the data and the votes and the caluclations.

The original link that was posted from Don Young's website even referred to the winner as Rep. Young (R-FL) which should now have been removed.

I willingly admit that a picture was taken with Rep. Young (R-AK) at the awards ceremony in the midst of all the chaos and confusion, he was ushered towards me and we did take a picture together. However, the press release his staff was given was clearly the release for Rep. Young (R-FL). At an event like that, where there are 20+ Congressmen in line for a photo, mistakes are sometimes made.

A letter was sent to both Congressman explaining the mix up. A copy of which can be seen here. Congratulations to Rep. Bill Young (R-FL).

Funny stuff ..

You guys are hilarious.  Don Young a hero of the tax payer?  What's next, George Bush is a fiscal conservative?  How about some consistency here!!

We are being consistent

There are a finite number of votes on taxes that we scored on last year.  About 170 Congressmen qualified based on their voting.  One of them was Don Young.  Weird, but that's how he voted.

Consistency is following through when it might be easier to fudge the numbers and get a more palatable result.

Maybe next year you can do your own scorecard.  I encourage you to.  After a few years, Congressmen might take your phone call like they take ours.  The point is, you have to work at this for years and have integrity.  We can't do to Congressmen what Lucy did with the football.

No one's asking you to cook your books

We get it.  You're kind of a big deal.  You have many leather-bound books and your office at ATR smells of rich mahogany.  But I think most of us have two concerns:

1) Any rating system that allows you to give awards to 85% of the House GOP caucus has probably outlived its usefulness.  You disagree, which is your right.  After all, you get to talk on the phone with Congressmen, while I blog in my pajamas from my Mom's basement, etc.

2) Giving Young an award pre-primary is unspeakably bad timing.  There's nothing you could have done differently to give Sean Parnell some cover?  Really?  No one is asking you to fudge the numbers; give Young his silly little plaque, but make a point of disinviting him from the awards ceremony.  Or add a paragraph to your press release noting your disappointment that Young has already broken his pledge in '08.  But do something.

Don Young is corrupt, not a conservative, and will not be able to hold the seat if he makes it to the general.  If ATR can't be bothered to help Sarah Palin's people in Alaska under those circumstances, then you guys may as well fold up shop.

Lot's of loons on this site.

Don Young is corrupt

I've seen other people saying he is a thief. This site seems to attract the GOP equivalent of moonbats.  Now, he may be corrupt. As a member of Congress that is always a distinct possibility. But there's no reason to think that he's done anything different from, say, Harry Reid. And I don't see the Dems trying to get rid of Reid.

 

Perhaps we could hold our candidates to a higher standard

than, say, the Democrats are holding Harry Reid, or William Jefferson. 

Rewarding ethical conservatives like Sean Parnell and Sarah Palin is hardly what I would call engaging in moonbattery.  On the other hand, promulgating kudos to legislators such as Don Young seems to be the same kind of good old boy business as usual that comes under the category of "let's do the same thing over and over again, only this time we'll expect different results."  I believe that's the definition of insanity. 

It's well known that conservatives are resistant to change.  Engaging in cautious, proven, traditional methods are not necessarily negative traits.  But when the house is on fire and the residents decide to climb back in bed and pull the covers over their heads because it's more comfortable than adopting a new strategy, that's simply wrong-headed, stupid and extremely risky.  By fervently hoping to avoid risk, the change-averse can in fact precipitate a very unintended dose of it.  Managing change is always a better option than trying to avoid it altogether.  There is a light at the end of the tunnel for the Republican Party, and in this post it looks a bit like a freight train. 

Higher standards

I can't help but notice that the net effect of Republicans getting all holier-than-thou with their "higher standards" is to allow the election of many more Democrats with distinctly lower standards than the supposedly "corrupt" Republicans they replace.

As an exercise in good government the whole thing is counter-productive. But I'm sure it makes the people involved feel very good about themselves, and that seems to be the main idea here anyway.

I don't see anything wrong with people opposing earmarks if that's what floats their boat. It strikes me as about twenty-fifth on the list of the countries pressing problems, but that's a judgement call I guess. What is not a judgement call is that the way it's conducted, as a moral crusade against the Republican Party alone, is a gift to the left.

 

Whining Is Not Work. Work Is Work.

1. I love the Anchorman reference.  However, I have to point out that doing hard, real world work beats whining any day.  If you have a problem with how an organization does something, then be proactive.  Start or help out a group you like better.   Whining is not work.  Work is work.

Over the past 20 years, ATR has worked day in and day out for pro-growth tax policy.  We've prevented more tax hikes and gotten more tax cuts passed than most people realize.  That's not tooting our own horn.  That's a testament to the fact that these awards are taken seriously and do a hell of a lot of good.

2. You seem to be saying that if most of the House GOP gets the award, it's watered down.  Fair enough.  Awards can drift over time.  Here's my challenge to you, since you seem to think you can do this better than ATR.  Go to our scorecard.  Take a look at the votes.  Remove those that you think are too squish.  Then, go to Thomas and pick out some roll calls to replace them with.  Re-run the numbers.

Until you actually do some real work, your whining lacks credence.

The bottom line is that we score every major tax vote that happens.  Taxes (along with guns, abortion, and a select few other issues) have near-unanimous buy-in from the House GOP.  Of course most of them score highly--most of them are great on taxes, thanks largely to us (including this award, which is taken seriously).

3. Under tax law, we can't coordinate with campaigns, nor can we engage in electioneering.  However, I can assure you that we will be aggressively educating the people of Alaska before August 26th that Young broke his Pledge in 2008.  That has nothing to do with the fact that he voted fine on tax votes in 2007.

This is the "something" that we're doing.  And we can't disinvite an award winner.  You may as well not give him one.

We don't set the timing of the awards based on one damned primary.  We set the timing of the awards in order to help the most conservative members get the most credit for their good tax votes.

What I appreciate

is the fact that you're willing to come online and have the discussion with us at all.  It's really interesting to get your perspective and find out what it's like "in the trenches" as opposed to being a voter who just wants everything and everyone to be ideal (which of course is rubbish but as Sandor says, it does make me feel good to say so at any rate). 

Somewhere between my idealism and your hard work there is probably an improvement that can be made, a better metric.  I work in an area where I analyze critical success factors and promote some of them into key performance indicators which can be measured.  We capture the data, display it in a dashboard for executive decision making, and use the feedback loop to indicate whether we're meeting our objectives.  This can be very challenging on two levels:  getting the right set of requirements, and collecting the right data.  So on a professional level, I do share your pain.  But think about who your clients are (the American people) and don't take what I think is meant to be constructive criticism personally.  Obviously you're a hard working analyst who knows this business inside and out.  Maybe there's an opportunity here to reevaluate the requirements and recalibrate.  If the American people require a different measurement of accountability, and we serve them, then we must make it so. 

Thanks for your service, for your candor and willingness to expose yourself to the debate.  For that alone, I think you're kinda awesome. 

Making a Better Widget

We try to get a better and better scorecard each year.  I like to think it's more and more accurate each year.

Maybe one thing to do is have a beta version of the scorecard (no results, just inputs) and have the conservative blogosphere weigh in.  If they think we should have done a final passage instead of a motion to recommit, we can take a look at that.

But mere griping is insufficient.  Contribute.

re: Don Young is corrupt

"Don Young bribery investigation" yields about 1.2 million hits on Google.  From Rep. Young's Wikipedia page ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don_Young ): 

"On July 24, 2007, the Wall Street Journal reported that Young was under federal investigation for possibly taking bribes, illegal gratuities or unreported gifts from VECO Corporation, an Anchorage-based company. The top two executives of that company have already pleaded guilty to bribing members of the Alaska legislature."

My understanding is that the FBI and the Justice Department are still investigating this.  If their investigation clears him of any wrongdoing, I will happily withdraw the corruption charge.

Stalinist.

 If their investigation clears him of any wrongdoing, I will happily withdraw the corruption charge.

And if an investigation clears you of kidnapping the Lindberg baby, I'll be quite happy to conclude that you did not do it.  Until then, you remain under a cloud of suspicion.

 

LOL

Ok, sometimes I think you are simply a contrarian, other times you really do get in a good zinger now and then, and that was pretty funny.  Heh. 

As for being a contrarian, for someone who (I believe) claims not to have a law degree, I've seen you play the Devil's Advocate more often than not.  Perhaps your mission is not so much to create content, but to test it for quality assurance.   ;-)

+1, Mr. Sandor

...although my ability to use the Justice Dept. to conduct Moonbat Show Trials is sadly limited.

+1 newlondoncalling

Well played!  Plus, you get the best punk rock moniker of the Right nod, but then again I am biased:

The ice age is coming, the sun is zooming in
Engines stop running and the wheat is growing thin
A nuclear error, but I have no fear
London is drowning-and I live by the river

"We will deal with your Rebel Friends soon enough." ~ Grand Moff Tarkin

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