November 6, 2015
Freedom Caucus Effects
In 2011, there were 87 new Republicans elected to the House. Many were elected in the wave of Tea Party sentiment that wanted to shake things up in Washington. Many wondered whether they would temper their views over time in Washington or whether they would move Washington more to their point of view.
Bending Washington to Their Will
They don’t seem to have changed their views at all, if anything have hardened their opinions and are less willing to compromise if they ever were. The Republican majority has been helped by the increasing influence of conservative media as well as gerrymandered districts. (Although gerrymandering has helped Democrats in other states. It is unfortunate because it makes states redder or bluer and less purple which might cause people to move to the middle instead of going to the edges of the spectrum.)
Their original target was discretionary government spending but they have had a number of major impacts:
- Discretionary spending has dropped to 6.5% from 9.1% of the economy in just 5 years, 2010 to 2015.
- Social issue fights have been resurrected and are in full swing
- Gridlock – It is much harder to get things done.
- The government shutdown in 2013
- They almost closed Homeland Security
- They forced John Boehner to resign
Out of the group, there are about 40 who are part of the Freedom Caucus. They originally found common cause in reducing the size of the federal government. Now they are targeting all sorts of Obama policies. They have really honed in on funding for Planned Parenthood.
More than these other things though, they seem to want power. They don’t seem to realize or care that they are a distinct minority within the Republican Party much less the United States. They want a greater say in how the House of Representatives is run and in how legislation is written and the process that it makes its way through the House. They figure that by changing the rules by which the House operates that they can get more power and influence.
They are being supported by their constituents at home. At least they think they are. Of course, the constituents who really like what they are doing are giving them positive feedback. Even though these people are a minority just as these Congressmen are in the minority. But it creates an echo chamber of self reinforcement and congratulations.
They tend to come from rural areas in the south and the west.