Tuesday, August 11, 2015

A Twofer in South Florida

     We’re doing two poster children this time because they’re similar in many respects --besides having hyphenated names. Both Cuban-American Republicans, 14-term Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Dist 27) and 7-term Mario Diaz-Balart (Dist 26) have similar voting records down there with the Dems on the conservative and libertarian scorecards and that means big spending, taxing and regulating.  We could include Carlos Curbelo (Dist 25) with the other two except that he is just in his first term but suffice to say that his voting record is in the range that causes conservative Repubs to call him a RINO –Republican In Name Only.  The three districts are the southernmost districts in Florida.

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen was born in Cuba and came here when she was seven. She earned a Ph. D. in education from the University of Miami and then taught and operated a private school in Miami.  She served in the Fla. House from 1985 to 1987 and in the Fla. Senate before being elected to the U.S. Congress when Claude “Red” Pepper died in 1989. Interestingly, she was succeeded by Mario’s brother, Lincoln Diaz-Balart, in both the Fla. House and Senate. Lincoln went on to serve in Congress for four terms. The Diaz-Balart family were all Democrats until about 1985 when they switched to Republican. Ileana’s husband, Dexter Lehtinen, was a Democrat who served with her in both the House and Senate –he switched to Repub when they married. You’ll see Dem characteristics in their voting records.

     Mario Diaz-Balart studied political science (what else?) at the University of South Florida and at age 24 began his political career as an aid to Miami Mayor Xavier Suarez –that’s when he switched his political affiliation.  He served in the Fla. legislature from 1988 to 2002 with terms in both the House and the Senate before being elected to the U.S. Congress in 2002 succeeding his brother, Lincoln. It is more complicated than it sounds as there were district changes involved in all of these tenures.  Mario’s (and Lincoln’s) father was an anti-Castro politician in Cuba; their aunt Mirta was Fidel Castro’s first wife.

     Both Ros-Lehtinen and Diaz-Balart opposed ending the Cuban embargo and objected to the recognition obama is giving the Castro regime. They see it as providing hard currency strengthening the regime weakened from factors such as losing Venezuela’s support due to that dictatorship’s failing economy.  

     Both of these Reps have some good qualities but, on balance, they have not been helpful in getting government spending, taxing and regulating down to the point that the economy can be restored and debt brought under control. I use the various scorecards of reliable free market, conservative and libertarian groups to judge them.  I take my cue from Mathew 7:20 rewording it as “By their votes ye shall know them.”  It is not what they say; it is what they do that affects our daily lives.  And the career pols don’t have to live under the results of their votes as long as they stay in Washington, D.C. (District of Corruption). So, reelection, to them, is Job One. 

     My current favorite scorecard is by conservative Heritage Action –go there to see the individual votes explained succinctly. That card scores Ros-Lehtinen at 35% and Diaz-Balart at 39% --the only Repub lower is Curbelo at 27% with the highest rated Florida Dem at 19%.  Notably, both favored renewing the Export-Import Bank to continue corporate welfare to huge companies like Boeing and GE as well as other vote-buying programs.  

     The American Conservative Union (ACU) is the nation’s oldest grassroots conservative organization and their latest report says that the lowest-ranking Florida Republicans were Mario Diaz-Balart, David Jolly and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. ACU Chairman Matt Schlapp observes that, “… the liberals in Congress tend to vote together as a block…The Left does a great job of enforcing lockstep orthodoxy, to the detriment of the constituents they represent.”  You’ll find a wide spread among Repubs but a close bunching of Dems on all of the scorecards.

     The liberal Americans for Democratic Action selects certain votes that limit the picture one gets from their ratings. One would expect the ADA ratings to be the opposite of the conservative ratings but their limited selective bills to rate upon do not give that result.  In fact, both of our posters got very low ratings. *** click on the name of the organizations to link to their ratings pages for details.

     The non-partisan Club for Growth rates on economic growth issues and finds Ros-Lehtinen at 40% and Diaz-Balart at 39% --again, not exactly pro-growth among the lowest ranked Repubs.  Without a growing economy and with continued deficit spending our children are in for a rough time in the job market.  The non-partisan Citizens Against Government Waste calls Ros-Lehtinen and Diaz-Balart “friendly” to taxpayers in 2014 –in between Taxpayer Hero and Hostile to Taxpayers—not real good and not real bad. Lukewarm.

     There are other ratings that help fill in the picture but our point here is that we desperately need turnover in congress if we’re going to get fresh ideas from citizen legislators who run as public servants and not career pols. The latter make decisions that advance their careers with judgments not always consistent with their oaths of office and rarely consistent with the common good. How else could we have the astronomical debt? To help in the cause please sign the petition for a congressional term limits amendment at www.termlimits.org

     Caution: don’t think that the three cited here with low-mediocre ratings are the rule with Cuban-Americans –Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio both score close to 100% on conservative/libertarian scorecards most of the time.

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