2010-03-06 / Editorials & Letters

Zack in the middle? Not really!

Last week, Rep. Zack Space touted his ranking in the National Journal as “among the most moderate and independent members” of the U.S. House of Representatives. The ranking is based on 92 votes cast in 2009 – 50 on economic issues, 22 on social issues and 20 on foreign policy.

We decided to take a closer look at his record on economic and social issues. The National Journal ranked Space as more liberal than 51 percent of the representatives on economic issues and 50 percent on social issues. He was ranked as more conservative than 48 percent of the representatives on economic issues and 49 percent on social issues.

At first glance it does look like Space is right in the middle, but in the middle of what? First consider that Democrats in 2009 held 59 percent of the House seats compared to 41 percent for the Republicans. So when Space is ranked as more liberal than 51 percent of the representatives, that means he is more liberal than all Republicans and some Democrats. Yes, he is in the middle, but it’s the middle of a House of Representatives dominated by very liberal Democrats.

The real Zack Space emerges when we look at specific votes. We reviewed 48 of the 72 economic and social issues listed by the National Journal including all those the publication highly weighted.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi often doesn’t vote and consequently isn’t ranked by the National Journal. When she did vote on these 48 issues, she and Space were on the same side 10 times. Only twice (17 percent of the time) did Space vote differently than ultra-liberal Pelosi. He voted against the $150 billion jobs package and to prohibit the use of federal funds for health insurance programs that cover abortion. But on the big three issues in 2009 – the $787 billion stimulus, cap & trade and health care takeover – he voted with Pelosi. On eight of the 48 issues reviewed (17 percent), Space voted with the majority of the Republicans. Seventeen percent is a long way from 50 percent or the middle.

By way of comparison, Rep. Steve Austria, who represents Fairfield County in Congress, is more liberal than 28 and 29 percent of the representatives on economic and social issues respectively. He is more conservative than 71 and 68 percent of his colleagues on economic and social issues respectively. He voted “no” on the big three issues in 2009.

We can expect to hear a lot more about Space’s so-called centralist ranking as he desperately tries to rework his record to win reelection this fall. He will soon have an opportunity to provide some substance to his claim that he is an independent voice not beholden to partisan interests.

After failing to push through the health care takeover when Democrats had a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, party leaders have now decided to try to jam it down our throats using a simple-majority reconciliation process reserved for budget issues.

While Space spent most of the summer avoiding his Ohio constituents, he’s certainly aware that poll after poll consistently show that most of us aren’t fooled by the incredible claims made by takeover supporters. It is simply not possible to give “free” health care to millions more while reducing the deficit and health insurance costs and maintaining our high quality of care. If that economic magic were possible, we could all work less for more pay and still enjoy a higher standard of living. Something will have to give– it will be health care costs first and then quality as federal bureaucrats desperately try to cut costs.

There is one constant that runs through all the bill variations to date and there may be another one this week. In everyone, the federal government, slower in some and faster in others, will be taking over our health care. That means we will be beholden to politicians for our health care. That’s been the goal of liberal Democrats for years and why some of them are willing to sacrifice some Democratic seats in Congress this fall. That’s just short term pain for the long term gain of expanding government control over our lives. In their minds, we are too stupid to take care of ourselves.

If Space, as he describes himself in last week’s press release, really is an independent voice not beholden to partisan interests, he will vote “NO” on the effort to ram through the health care takeover. President Obama himself said repeatedly throughout his election campaign that health care reform should require a super majority in Congress to legitimize the legislation. Unfortunately, that’s just one of many pledges made during the campaign that he has broken.

Pelosi and Company will be twisting Space’s arms hard to keep him in the “yes” column. We need to remind him that he represents Ohioans, not San Francisco and that we’ll soon have an opportunity to elect someone who does listen to us. You can call his Zanesville office toll-free at 1-866- 910-7577. Let him know that you don’t want your health care controlled by politicians and bureaucrats (think IRS, DVM etc.). It could be a matter of life or death for you or a family member.

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