Monday, February 21, 2011

Congressman Jim Jordan

George Will features Jim Jordan in yesterday's column:
The wrestling room at Graham High School in St. Paris, Ohio, where Jim Jordan, now 47, began the athletic career that took him to the University of Wisconsin and two NCAA wrestling championships, contains this sign: "Discipline is doing what you don't want to do when you don't want to do it." Today, as a third-term congressman from Ohio and chairman of the Republican Study Committee, Jordan leads what looks like an ongoing insurgency to discipline his party's leadership in the House of Representatives.
further into the story:
Michael Tanner of the libertarian Cato Institute notes that 24 of the RSC's members are on the House Agriculture Committee and that farm income in 2010 was $92.5 billion, 34 percent higher than in 2009. Even subtracting government payments, farm income was 28.8 percent higher than the average of the preceding decade. And 73 percent of all farm subsidies go to the wealthiest 10 percent of recipients. Jordan's district in west-central Ohio receives $30 million in direct payments, putting it among the top 50 beneficiaries of such subsidies.
Asked about this, Jordan smiles like Albert Pujols watching the approach of a hanging curveball. He says that he recently met with some corn growers who were in Washington to try to protect their programs, including the ethanol fiasco, and he told them, in the nicest possible way, that he is all for ethanol - to the extent that the market pronounces it viable. But, he says, the government subsidizes its production, protects it with tariffs and mandates the use of it - and still it cannot thrive in this rigged market.
How did the corn growers take this? Jordan laughs: "They know I'm just one of those crazy conservatives."
His explanation of why he got into politics is a verbal shrug: "You get married and have kids" - he has four - "and you get sick of having the government take your money and tell you what to do. I'm just a conservative guy." And an athlete looking for a surrogate sport.
All of this is well and good, but I have to ask, why doesn't paying taxes qualify as "doing what you don't want to do when you don't want to do it."  How come Congressman Jordan insists on other people making sacrifices while the weathiest among us pay a lower percentage of their income in taxes than almost any time in the past 60 years?

Since he was a local politician, I've had the opportunity to watch Congressman Jordan's career from some distance.  This has provided a couple of anecdotes.

 He always talks about the need for lower taxes and less regulation to strengthen our middle class families.  Over several difficult budget years when he was in the Ohio House and Senate, he consistently voted against the Budget which his Republican majority put forward, knowing that it would pass anyway, but leaving himself to take the position of standing for lower taxes and lower spending without actually having to put forward a workable and realistic budget of his own.

In my previous occupation of civil engineer, I was meeting with city and county officials in Champaign County on the proposed new Walmart.  My job was to sit in with the city engineer and make sure the developer was meeting city requirements for stormwater management.  We proceeded to the roof of the YMCA, where we were meeting, and which overlooked the site of the Walmart.  While up there, the county Economic Development director began to discuss with the city engineer a new outdoor restroom which was to be constructed at the terminal point of a bikepath just north of the YMCA.  He indicated that something like $25,000 had been appropriated by the state thanks to at-the-time State Senator Jordan's intervention, so that users of the bike path wouldn't come in to the YMCA to use the restroom.

I said something along the lines of, "wait a minute, Mr small government Jim Jordan got you $25,000 for a bathroom so people wouldn't come in here and use it.  I thought he felt if people wanted to do something they could pay for it themselves."

He laughed and said something like, "Jim talks a good game, but he got us $3 million to build this Y building.  You just have to know how to frame it.  I tell him, 'Jim, this will benefit families, plus it instills Christian values.  Anyway, look at all the money that's going to Cincinnati and Cleveland for stadiums, we need to get our share.'"

I just laughed.  In one tough budget, Jordan was attacking Bob Taft for raising taxes to fill in deficits, saying he would oppose the budget bill.  Taft soon announced that one of the state prisons in Lima, in Jordan's district, would be closed to save money.  Jordan raised holy hell, tried to save the prison, but never came up with another way to save money so the prison wouldn't be closed.  He eventually voted against the budget because of the tax increases, and the prison closed.  I would guess that Jordan will continue to work hard to get projects slated for the Lima tank plant while he is in Congress, even though when it comes time to support whatever budget is adopted, he'll vote against it.  It is easy to pontificate while never actually taking any responsibility.

Finally, Congressman Jordan used to appear at all kinds of local events, where he would be introduced as soon as the event commenced, give a quick speech and then bail to hit another one.  At one township association dinner, he gave a speech about how he was going to fight against a proposed Indian casino near Botkins.  Now keep in mind, within  35 miles of Botkins is one of the highest percentages of Catholic residents in the state of Ohio, and these people love to gamble.  The State Senator was opposed to the casino, and any casinos in the state of Ohio, because he had heard testimony from Art Schlichter's mom about the dangerous effects of gambling.  Now this area of Ohio is also Ohio State phsyco fan zone, and every person knew about Art Schlichter and his myriad problems.  It wasn't going to take away from their desire to have a nearby casino, so they didn't have to drive 100 miles to Indiana to partake of the fun. These people personally know large numbers of people who have had their lives destroyed by alcohol, but they still don't favor prohibition.

When it comes to social issues, Jim Jordan has not met a regulation he doesn't like.  He didn't attend the CPAC convention because a gay Republican group was going to be there.  I can't find him taking a position on the "Ground Zero Mosque," but I can guess where he stands.  Businesses have rights and need more freedom, but people who don't conform to Jim Jordan's standard for real Americans don't.  Regardless, Jordan probably has a job for as long as he wants it, since his winning margin has been at least 20% in each Congressional election, winning by 47% in the last election.  The only threat to his seat is redistricting.  Ohio is losing 2 seats, and his district, which is rabidly Republican, may get split among several other districts to make each of them more conservative.  My guess is that Jordan will run in whatever district Champaign County will end up in, and he'll win.

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