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Michele Bachmann

2012 Presidential White Paper #7

Congresswoman Michele Bachmann


INTRODUCTION


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Congresswoman Michele Bachmann was first elected to Congress in 2006 after serving in the Minnesota State Senate from 2001 to 2006. If elected President, she would be the first woman President and the second person elected directly from the U.S. House of Representatives since James Garfield. Congresswoman Bachmann received a 100% score in the Club for Growth’s 2010 scorecard and has a lifetime score of 94%. The average house Republican score from 2007-2010 was 78%. Congresswoman Bachmann also has a lifetime score of 94% from the Minnesota Taxpayers League during the time she served in the State Senate. The average score for Republican State Senators during that time was 76%.
 
TAXES
 
The Club for Growth is committed to lower taxes – especially lower tax rates – across the board.  Lower taxes on work, savings, and investments lead to greater levels of these activities, thus encouraging greater economic growth.
 
Congresswoman Bachmann has a generally good record on taxes. She has consistently voted in favor of pro-growth tax policies aside from an indefensible vote as State Senator to put a sales tax increase know as the “Legacy Amendment” on the ballot in 2002. She also broke a pledge to vote against all tax hikes.
 
As a candidate for Congress, Bachmann called for “cutting taxes across the board,” and ticked off support for making the Bush Tax Cuts permanent, income tax rate reductions, permanent repeal of the Death Tax, reduction of the Marriage Penalty Tax, elimination of the Alternative Minimum Tax, reduction in the capital gains tax, and a general simplification of the tax code.  As a member of Congress, Bachmann followed through. Pro-growth tax votes include:
Voted YES on permanent Death Tax repeal 
Voted NO on increasing energy taxes 
Voted NO on extending tax cuts offset with tax hikes 
Voted NO on a Farm Bill rule with a $4 billion tax hike 
Voted NO on raising the Death Tax rate from 35 to 45% 
 
In addition, Bachmann made many pro-taxpayer votes as a member of the State Senate, including:
Voted NO on a half-cent metro sales tax increase worth $13.5 billion to fund new stadiums for the Twins and Vikings 
Voted NO on increasing taxes on Minnesota-based foreign-operating corporations 
Voted NO at least two times on increasing the gas tax 
 
We should note that as a State Senator, Bachmann broke a “Taxpayer protection pledge” in 2005 by voting in favor of a 75-cent per pack cigarette tax increase worth $400 million dollars proposed by then-Governor Tim Pawlenty.  In 2006, State Senator Bachmann voted against a bill  similar to the notorious 2008 “Legacy Amendment”, which enshrined a 3/8ths of one percent sales tax increase in the State Constitution to pay for “arts and the environment,” but in 2002 she voted in favor of a similar bill with a 3/16th of one percent sales tax increase. 
 
In 2011, at a public forum in New Hampshire, Bachmann called for a Flat Tax with a single 20% tax rate.  "We could scrap [the tax code] altogether as far as I'm concerned," Bachmann said at the time. "Fair tax, flat tax, whatever you want to call it. Let's get rid of what we've got and start over."  Bachmann has been open to a flat or fair tax on the federal level since at least October of 2006, when she called the idea “worthy of debate.”  
 
 
SPENDING
 
The Club for Growth is committed to reducing government spending.  Less spending enhances economic growth by enabling lower taxes and diminishing the government’s economically inefficient allocation of resources.
 
Congresswoman Bachmann’s record on spending is significantly better than most Republicans, but her overall record declined in 2010.  National Taxpayers Union publishes a rating of Congress that includes every spending vote, and she earned “A” grades and was in the top 10% of the House for 2007 and 2008.  She slipped to “B+” grades and her ranking fell to 93rd in the House in 2010, near the median for all Republicans. 
 
In the 110th Congress, Bachmann sponsored or cosponsored 21 bills to increase spending and only 3 bills to cut, for a net spending agenda of $11.7 billion on top of current spending.  Ninety four representatives sponsored less spending or proposed cuts in their sponsorships. 
 
Bachmann has an excellent record of voting against pork projects -- she received a 96% in the Club for Growth’s 2007 “RePork Card” and a 98% in 2009  for her votes to strip pork projects from appropriations bills. 
 
Overall, Bachmann has been good on voting against expanded government spending. Examples of spending that she voted against include:
Voted NO on the 2007 Farm Bill  and NO on the veto override 
Voted NO on the FY08 Omnibus 
Voted NO on TARP 
Voted YES on the FY09, FY10, and FY12 Republican Study Committee (RSC) budgets . Congresswoman Bachmann also co-sponsored the RSC budget in FY11 which never came to a vote.  
Voted NO on the Stimulus 
Voted NO on Cash for Clunkers 
Voted NO three times to extend unemployment benefits 
Voted NO on Head Start reauthorization 
Voted YES on cutting funding for AMTRAK.  Voted NO on AMTRAK reauthorization. 
Voted NO on S-CHIP at least four times 
Voted NO on expanding FHA lending and authority  
Voted NO on a congressional pay raise 
Voted NO on establishing an affordable housing trust fund 
 
Bachmann also opposed bailing out Detroit, saying “Throwing taxpayer money at Detroit's spiraling problems will not fix their long-term management and productivity troubles and they will only be back for more time and time again.” 
 
However, Bachmann has voted for some questionable spending bills. Examples include:
Voted YES on National Science Foundation reauthorization 
Voted YES on the 2008 mini-stimulus bill and more FHA loans 
Voted YES on unemployment benefits extension in 2009 
 
While Congresswoman Bachmann did vote against the 2008 farm bill, criticizing it as “loaded with unbelievably outrageous pork and subsidies for agricultural business and ethanol growers,” the Los Angeles Times noted that “…a year later, however, Bachmann wrote to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, praising the federal government for helping prop up the prices of pig products and dairy by directly buying the commodities, a move that benefited her constituents.” 
 
Furthermore, Congresswoman Bachmann does not have a consistent history when it comes to requesting earmarks. According to The Daily Caller, “from 2001-2006, then-state Senator Bachmann proposed more than $60 million in earmarks, including a $710,000 ‘Bond For Centerville Local Improvements Around Highway 14’ and a $40,000,000 ‘Bond for Lino Lakes And Columbus Township Highway Interchanges.’”  As a member of Congress Bachmann sponsored earmarks worth $803,600 for “Replacement Small Buses” for the St. Cloud Metro Bus and $490,000 for improvements to Highway 241, and then voted against striking all earmarks from the 2008 Energy  and Labor, Health and Education  Appropriations bills, which contained at least four of the seven earmarks requested by Congresswoman Bachmann.  
 
Congresswoman Bachmann took a pledge to not request earmarks in 2008, 2009, and 2010 and she deserves praise for doing so.  
 
Congresswoman Bachmann’s vote against President Obama’s stimulus and her subsequent criticism of the bill must be weighed against an atrocious vote: during the debate over the stimulus bill Congresswoman Bachmann joined 43 of the more fiscally liberal Republicans such as ex-Reps. Mike Castle and Mark Kirk in voting against an amendment by Rep. Randy Neugebauer to “strike the $355 billion in funding for discretionary programs in the bill.”  In other words, Congresswoman Bachmann voted against eliminating the spending in the stimulus. Congresswoman Bachmann also wrote six letters after the passage of the stimulus to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood requesting stimulus grants for infrastructure projects in her congressional district. 
 
As a member of the State Senate, Bachmann was generally good. She opposed bailing out the Minneapolis Teacher’s Retirement Fund  and she voted to allow state government to outsource some jobs to the private sector. As noted earlier, Congresswoman Bachmann received high marks in the Minnesota Taxpayers League legislative rating. 
 
As recently as April of 2011, Bachmann proposed a 25% cut in federal government discretionary spending, cancellation of outstanding stimulus and TARP funds, a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution, a spending cap, and no more bailouts.  She is also co-sponsor of legislation which would authorize a line-item veto. 
 
 
ENTITLEMENT REFORM
 
America’s major middle-class entitlement programs are already insolvent.  The Club for Growth supports entitlement reforms that enable personal ownership of retirement and health care programs, benefit from market returns, and diminish dependency on government.
 
Congresswoman Bachmann has a very good history of supporting pro-growth entitlement reform. Examples of votes on entitlement reform made by Congresswoman Bachmann include:
Voted NO (repeatedly) on expansion of SCHIP 
Voted NO on ObamaCare 
Voted YES on defunding ObamaCare 
Voted YES on defunding ObamaCare’s exchange 
Voted YES on defunding implementation of ObamaCare’s individual mandate 
Voted YES on the Republican Study Committee substitute to the GOP Budget Plan 
Voted NO on a one-time $250 payment to Social Security recipients 
 
On Health Care, Bachmann has opposed the onerous policies that ultimately made it into ObamaCare since she was a candidate for Congress in 2006. During her first campaign she was in favor of making health care expenditures deductible, eliminating mandates from health insurance plans and from employers. She also opposed expanded subsidies and said she would have voted against the Medicare prescription drug benefit. 
 
In the past, Congresswoman Bachmann has favored the policy of allowing younger workers to invest a portion of their Social Security in personal accounts.  And while she doesn’t appear to want to change benefits for current retirees, she has said that she wants to “wean everybody off” Social Security.  In an interview with Fox Business Channel, Congresswoman Bachmann said “What we need to do, like you said, people who are currently on Social Security need to have the promise kept to them. Also people within 10 years of receiving Social Security are in a very difficult age. But people that are younger than those ages, they need to have options in their life so going forward they can have an ownership of their own retirement, something they can keep and pass on to their beneficiaries of their choice.”  In response to a 2006 AARP questionnaire, Bachmann ruled out increasing the retirement age. 
 
With a nearly perfect pro-growth record on entitlement reform, it’s surprising that Congresswoman Bachman voted against blocking new rules proposed by the Bush Administration to reduce Medicaid spending in 2008, including a ban on reimbursements for dental and vision coverage.  Overall, however, her record deserves praise.
 
 
REGULATION 
 
Excessive government regulation stymies individual and business innovation necessary for strong economic expansion. The Club for Growth supports less and more sensible government regulation as a critical step toward increasing freedom and growth in the marketplace.
 
Congresswoman Bachmann has a very good record on regulation in Congress, but as with her spending record, there are still some questionable votes in her past that she should explain.
 
Congresswoman Bachmann has a very good record on opposing excessive Government regulation in Congress, including:
Voted NO on increasing the minimum wage 
Voted NO on the Employee Free Choice Act, otherwise known as “Card Check” 
Voted NO on implementing Davis-Bacon wage requirements 
Voted NO on the Dodd-Frank regulatory reform act 
Voted NO on Cap and Trade 
Voted YES on barring implementation of “Net Neutrality” 
Voted YES on striking an anti-offshore drilling provision from a 2008 appropriations bill 
 
Congresswoman Bachmann also rightly voted against the 2007 energy bill, calling it a “recipe for recession” and criticizing the increased CAFÉ standards and the mandated ethanol requirements. “Ethanol has had mixed results in terms of efficiency and costs,” Bachmann said at the time.  However, in 2007, Bachmann voted to direct the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to curb “excessive speculation” in oil futures trading.  
 
As a member of the State Senate, Bachmann rightly voted against penalizing gas stations that allegedly “price gouge[d],”  and she voted against a proposal that mandated that 20% of electricity in Minnesota come from renewable sources by 2020.  But Bachmann voted to mandate the doubling of ethanol content in gasoline to 20 percent in 2005  even though she voted against mandating the addition of vegetable oil in 2002.  Bachmann also voted against increasing Minnesota’s minimum wage in 2004 
 
In 2001, Bachmann bizarrely voted in favor of implementing a mandatory minimum markup law in Minnesota,  which forced gas retailers to sell gasoline at prices for at least 6%, or eight cents per gallon, above wholesale prices, whichever was cheaper. Then in 2005 she flipped and voted to repeal the price markup requirement.  A 2008 study by the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute about a similar law in neighboring Wisconsin stated that “minimum markup is one of the most overt examples of select businesses reaping the benefits of government-mandated profits at the expense of the consumer.”  
 
 
FREE TRADE
 
Free trade is a vital policy necessary for maximizing economic growth.  In recent decades, America’s commitment to expanding trade has resulted in lower costs for consumers, job growth, and higher levels of productivity and innovation.
 
Again, Congresswoman Bachmann’s record on trade policy is strong overall, but she does have a bad vote in her record against free trade.
 
Pro Free-Trade votes include votes for the Peru Free Trade agreement in 2007  and against blocking the Colombia Free Trade Agreement in 2008.  She voted to extend Andean trade preferences in 2007  and also against reauthorization of Trade Adjustment Assistance. 
She supports the free trade agreements currently pending with Panama, South Korea, and Colombia. 
 
However, Bachmann did bizarrely vote for the Congressional Made in America Promise Act of 2010, which applies “Buy American” requirements to the Congress. 
 
As a State Senator, Bachmann voted to reject a ban on overseas outsourcing by Minnesota state government. 
 
 
SCHOOL CHOICE
 
The Club for Growth supports broad school choice, including charter schools and voucher programs that create a competitive education market including public, private, religious, and non-religious schools.  More competition in education will lead to higher quality and lower costs.
 
Congresswoman Bachmann not only has a strong record on school choice, she is the first major presidential candidate to actually found a charter school. In fact, Congresswoman Bachmann co-founded the first K-12 charter school in the nation, New Heights Charter School back in 1993.  Her record on school choice has, predictably, been flawless since then.
 
In 2011, Bachmann voted to re-establish the DC school voucher program.  As a member of the State Senate, Bachmann voted to prohibit teacher strikes during the school year.  She also voted to allow parents to use education tax credits for tuition at private schools.  She’s introduced legislation to make foster children eligible for education vouchers. 
 
As far back as 2003, Bachmann was fighting the No Child Left Behind Act, filing a bill in the Minnesota legislature that would have prohibited the Dept. of Children, Families and Learning or any other state agency “from entering into a contract or other agreement under the provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, unless the financial consequences to the state and each school district have been identified.”  Another bill, S.F. 1921, “requires all state plans, agreements and contracts associated with NCLB compliance to be nullified and revoked on June 1, 2004, unless the Legislature specifically affirms implementation of the federal law by that date.” 
 
 
TORT REFORM
 
The American economy suffers from excessive litigation which increases the cost of doing business and slows economic growth. The Club for Growth supports major reforms to our tort system to restore a more just and less costly balance in tort litigation.
 
As a State Senator, Bachmann voted to require that a defendant in a lawsuit must be more than 50% at fault in order to be held liable for 100% of the damages.  She also voted against the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which makes it easier for employees to file “wage discrimination” lawsuits.  She co-authored a law that removed statutory damages for a credit card receipt printing glitch.  She co wrote an op-ed in 2009 stating that as part of health care reform “real tort reform would cut down on the costs of defensive medicine and frivolous malpractice suits.” 
 
 
POLITICAL FREE SPEECH
 
Maximizing prosperity requires sound government policies.  When government strays from these policies, citizens must be free to exercise their constitutional rights to petition and criticize those policies and the politicians responsible for them.
 
Bachmann voted against eliminating donation limits in 2010  but she did vote against the liberal DISCLOSE ACT.  She voted to block the so-called “Fairness Doctrine” in 2007. Bachmann favored repealing the ban on non-profits and churches from endorsing candidates.  Bachmann also voted for blocking the Department of Justice from enforcement of the so-called criminal penalties provisions of McCain-Feingold. 
 
 
POLITICAL ACTIVITY & ENDORSEMENTS
 
Robust political activity is essential to producing a federal government that is more respectful of free markets and produces more pro-economic growth policies. The Club for Growth’s PAC has been active in some of the more central battles within the Republican Party nominating process in recent years, supporting pro-growth candidates over pro-government ones.
 
Congresswoman Bachmann was the first Republican member of Congress, and the first of any major 2012 Republican Presidential candidate, to publically endorse pro-growth conservative Doug Hoffman over RINO Dede Scozzafava in New York’s 23rd Congressional District. 
 
Congresswoman Bachmann also expressed support for Marco Rubio in Florida’s Senate primary on April 11th, 2010 in an appearance on Fox News Sunday, more than two weeks before Governor Crist announced that he would drop out of the Republican primary and run as an independent. 
 
 
SUMMATION
 
With very few exceptions, Congresswoman Bachmann has supported pro-growth policies throughout her career. She especially deserves praise for her consistent defense of school choice. After reviewing her record, we are confident that Congresswoman Bachmann would be a pro-growth President.

 
Club for Growth is a national network of thousands of Americans, from all walks of life, who believe that prosperity and opportunity come through economic freedom. We work to promote public policies that promote economic growth primarily through legislative involvement, issue advocacy, research, training and educational activity. Join today!