Right Watch: Don Young is a hero?

This is just dumbfounding...

Recognized for Hard Work in Congress Alaskan Congressman

Don Young attended a reception last night where he received an award from each of the following groups: Americans for Tax Reform, American Shareholders Association, Alliance for Worker Freedom, and the 60 Plus Association.

What the hell is wrong with the Right?  Don Young.....

Oh, and Don Young has said he would support a tax hike "to pay for even more projects".  Rob Bluey has more at Red State.  

This is the guy we're giving awards to? Is there anybody the Right will not decorate and applaud so long as they vote for tax cuts? 

Eric Hoffer once said that “Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.”    The Right is reaching the latter stages of that cycle.  It needs a purge.  We should start with people like Don Young, and those who enable them.

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This is indeed outrageous. It

This is indeed outrageous.

It seems that some conservative "leaders" think they can transfer conservative street cred simply by virtue of their endorsement. Remember when David Keene endorsed Arlen Specter?

Conservatives outside the beltway have long known that it doesn't work that way, and because of the Internet, they have the tools they need to cast aside the old gatekeepers, auguring in an era of DIY conservative politics.

You're kidding

Is there anybody the Right will not decorate and applaud so long as they vote for tax cuts? 

McCain won't even vote for tax cuts, and he's sure been "rewarded" by the right. He supports all sorts of left-wing legislation wth a cost to the tax payer of several trillion dollars, and people "on the right" act as if he's God's gift to fiscal conservatism.

This obsession with earmarks is unproductive, to put it mildly. Could we please move the discussion to real fiscal responsiblity?


How do we define real fiscal responsibility?

Is it defined by a balanced budget?  Full employment?  More jobs?  More consumption?  More investments?  Lower taxes for business and the wealthy who are able to provide more jobs?  Lower taxes to the middle class who are the biggest consumer group?  Lower taxes to the poor, who are living from pay check to pay check?    Simpler taxes for everyone?  What about the deficit - does the government get involved in increasing aggregate demand, or should the market operate free of state intervention? 

If the earmarks are actually being used to provide jobs, or trigger investments, or create more consumption then perhaps there are some earmarks which should be promoted.  But is scrutiny of wasteful spending "unproductive"?  I think not, and I think that Adam Smith would think not as well, based on The Theory of the Moral Sentiments. 

It seems that Keynes, Hayek, Smith and a host of others all defined very diverse perspectives on what they believed to be "fiscal responsibility".  For purposes of these discussions, it would be interesting to know how you defiine it as well.  ;-)

Defining fiscal conservatism

As Ruffini already pointed out, we don't have a definition of what it is. Using the definition employed by many people here I suspect that Ronald Reagan was not a fiscal conservative. He certainly was willing to tolerate big deficits, and he put tax reduction ahead of cutting spending. I get the impression that some people here would accept a doubling in Federal spending if they could get a balanced budget.


I don't know that it's up to me to define it. But to me, it means smalller government. In getting to that goal I'm quite willing to give sixty Senators their very own juicy earmark, if they vote for serious entitlment reform. Too many people are arguing over nickels and dimes while the country goes bankrupt.




This obsession with earmarks

This obsession with earmarks is unproductive, to put it mildly.

Did you miss the part about him being investigated by the FBI for bribes?

Earmarks themselves are a symptom that an individual is governing not by conservative principles (or, really, any principles) but soley to get reelected. Corruption and misbehavior are probably not far away.


Earmarks themselves are a symptom that an individual is governing not by conservative principles (or, really, any principles) but soley to get reelected. Corruption and misbehavior are probably not far away.


Using that logic you have just called virtually every Republican in Congress corrupt, including some of the most fiscally conservative members. And John McCain, that FDR Democrat in Republican clothing, is magically transformed into the champion of flinty eyed fiscal prudence and moral righteousness.


Speaking of moral righteousness, it's a quality the earmark crusaders have in excess. They seem to be the modern descendants of the abolitionists and Prohibitionists. You guys are the new Moral Majority.


To be fair to Grover

He gives awards based on scored votes.

Giving them, or withholding them, based on other criteria damages the credibility of his project.

As an ATR alum who was

As an ATR alum who was involved with these awards for several years, I can tell you Soren is right.  They are based on numerical scores on the votes the organizations have selected over the year to score.  Those decisions are made before the votes take place, so that members of Congress are well aware that a given vote will affect their rating with those groups.

There are always some painful results, either in giving someone who isn't particularly conservative an award because he happened to vote the right way, or in withholding an award from a member we all know is on our team, because he voted the other way due to home state politics, etc.  But it's the only way to do it and remain legitimate and fair.

Tom and Soren Are Right

I'm currently the Tax Policy Director at ATR, and heavily-involved in these awards.  There is no massaging or favoritism involved whatsoever.  Nor do we arbitrarily remove people who are weak on spending (as Cong. Young undeniably is when it comes to earmarks).

In case you didn't notice, the "T" in "ATR" stands for "Tax."  Our scorecard is heavily-weighted toward tax votes, while still trying to incorporate votes of interest to taxpayers (including spending, incidentally).  We announce most of these votes prior to the roll call.  This is extremely helpful to the RSC and the Republican Congressional leadership, who can use these keyvotes as leverage to keep squishy Rs in line. 

Congressman Young, quite simply, voted the right way on our scorecard.  Would you rather that we set up the scorecard, and then arbitrarily yank someone after the fact?  The Hero of the Taxpayer Award would lose all credibility from that point forward.  It's not intended as "Grover's Favorite Guys."  It's a scorecard based on hard, verifiable facts.

The same is true for American Shareholders Association and Alliance for Worker Freedom.  There is a set of votes, and the chips fall where they may.

If anything, detractors on this board ought to be praising ATR for having some integrity.  It was a surprise to see that Don Young got a score of 90%, but we're glad he did.  To see the full scorecard, click on the link below:


Look at some of the votes that went into getting that 90%:

  • Voted against a tax hike to "pay for" a one-year AMT patch
  • Consistently and repeatedly voted against tax hikes on energy
  • Voted for the Peru FTA, a tax cut on exporters
  • Voted for the GOP alternative to S-CHIP expansion
  • Voted against the Farm Bill
  • Voted against the FY 2008 budget resolution, and for the Paul Ryan budget
  • Most importantly to us, he has signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge and didn't break it in 2007

In fact, Young would have received a perfect score had he signed onto letters circulated by Cong. Feeney (on taxes) and Campbell (on spending) pledging to uphold a presidential veto.

We call em like we see em.  Should Don Young get less than an 85% in 2008, he will certainly not get the award.  We'll see.  It's up to him and how he votes this year.

Oh, I understand why he might

Oh, I understand why he might qualify under a scored-vote-only scoresheet.  But perhaps you should consider whether a metric that judges Don Young as a "Taxpayer Hero" is really a valuable tool.   This is like giving 2002 CEO of the Year award to Bernie Ebbers, because, hey, he got his company a lot of media attention.   

You can't be a taxpayer hero if you are also corrupt.  You can't be a taxpayer hero if you are intentionally screwing taxpayers.  You can't be a taxpayer hero when you try to "stuff [a bill] like a turkey" with pork. 

  • If ATR's awards don't account for things like that, just how much credibility should they really have? 
  • Does ATR really want to be in the business of providing cover to guys to Don Young? 

Don't get me wrong. I'm very sympathetic with your goals.  I think the idea of a "Leave Us Alone" coalition is absolutely imperative.  But in the meantime, things like this do not help.   It just enables the bad guys.


What exactly would you have the solution be? How does an organization go about keeping a completely transparent decision making process and avoid the appearance of picking sides or playing favorites with their awards? Doesn't an award lose its integrity if it is clear the decision has been rigged?

Responding to Jon


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:


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'm not surprised they'd honor a borrow & spend porker. Young is a hero only if you don't count the taxpayer's kids/grandkids in the bargain.

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).

WorkerFreedom, Thanks in

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