Mike Turner’s “No” Vote Was Attempt To Boost His “Conservative” Credentials

I just wrote an extended response to an article posted by David Esrati, When Mike Turner and David Kucinich Agree, We Live In Extraordinary Times.

David. I enjoyed reading your post and I heartily agree with its conclusion:

“Wouldn’t it be great if we as voters, could just check each incumbent and each challengers site- to find out how they would vote, or why they voted the way they did- straight from the horses mouth? Neither Jane Mitakides or Mike Turner have had anything resembling an original idea on their respective sites about this critical issue.

“Of course, if I was still a candidate for OH-3, you’d all know exactly how I felt- and why. You’d also have the chance to discuss, debate and influence my position, because- believe it or not, it’s called the House of Representatives for a long forgotten reason.”

I just checked Turner’s web-site,  thinking maybe it would feature the press release he gave to DDN about his “No” vote on the $700 Billion bail out legislation, but nothing. Yesterday I called both Turner’s Dayton office and his Washington office and left my name and e-mail address and requested that the congressman send me a copy of any press release he would prepare for the news media. Nothing.

I’ve urged Turner’s challenger, Democrat Jane Mitakides, to make better use of the internet. Last week I interviewed Jane and wrote: “Effectively Using the Internet Is Key to Jane Mitakides Defeating Congressman Mike Turner”

How someone runs her or his campaign is a strong indication of how he or she will conduct themselves in office, if elected. As a person with a strong history of web experience, you made a convincing point in your campaign when you promised to effectively use the internet to communicate with and to be accessible to voters.

I need to comment also about your reaction to the Dayton Daily News article about Turner’s recent “No.” You quote the Dayton Daily News:

“Turner, meanwhile, said he voted against the bill because it fails to hold accountable those who got the financial system into trouble in the first place and because it does not prohibit the bad lending that led to this crisis. He said there were no guarantees that the bailout would work, and no plan for what to do if it didn’t succeed.  ‘Our entire financial system has been imperiled by the greed of the people that run some of these companies,’ he said. ‘The same people could continue to offer these same loans that caused all this trouble; this bill will not prevent it.'”

You are a long time critic of Turner, who sought the Democratic Party’s nomination to run against him, and I am surprised, in response to the DDN article, you wrote, “Turner scored major points in my book for taking this stand.”

To me, this “No” vote was not a “stand” at all.    It seems much more likely that it was simply a calculated political move. People are usually true to their established character and behavior.

I wrote, in my article, “Jane, made the point that because of the mess created by a Republican president and a Republican congress, and because Mike Turner has been overwhelmingly supportive of Republican policies, that Turner deserves to lose. Yes. But Jane needs to make the case.”

The reason Jane needs to make the case, to lay the facts out in stark terms, is because, amazingly, some voters, who have lost all confidence in George Bush and his policies, don’t connect the dots that it was Republicans, like congressman Mike Turner, who made the actions of George Bush possible.

Why did Turner vote 90% of the time, or so, to support the Republican agenda? I don’t believe he was making a “stand” in these votes.  I don’t believe that his votes were motivated by sound principles and careful reasoning. I don’t think his votes were motivated by his commitment to advancing the public good, or that he even used his best judgment. The motivation for Turner’s wholehearted support of the Republican agenda, it seems to me, was purely political. It doesn’t strike me that Turner sees himself as servant of the people. With Mike Turner, it seems, it’s all about securing and advancing the interests of Mike Turner.

The trouble is, the bill has come due.  Reality has smacked the Republican agenda and the Republican philosophy in the face. The trouble is, it’s time to pay up. Under Bush and Turner the national deficit has increased by over $3 Trillion. Staggering in its implications. We’ve engaged in a very expensive war and at the same time we’ve cut taxes. We’ve grown the size of government and and the waste in government at an alarming rate. We’ve allowed lobbyists to write our laws. And Turner didn’t make a peep.

This was politics. This was cronyism. This was gorging at the trough. This was all about winning and wielding power. Shouldn’t Turner have voted “No” to all this nonsense years ago when a “stand” from a real Republican Ohio conservative might have made a difference? The attitude and the actions of this wild Bush era were never “conservative” — in any twisted meaning of the term. Of course Turner in this conservative 3rd District, would like to run from this miserable anti-conservative record. And now, in the matter of this proposed Wall Street bail out,  is Turner’s big chance to resound with all of the conservatives in the 3rd District who are mad as hell at this proposed legislation. It’s Turner’s opportunity, now that the chickens are roosting, to make a conservative “stand” and vote “No.”  And hope that his conservative constituents will not notice the votes of his previous six years.

Turner’s “No” vote, in my judgment, is despicable — because, as I see it, his vote is purely political.

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7 Responses to Mike Turner’s “No” Vote Was Attempt To Boost His “Conservative” Credentials

  1. Stan Hirtle says:

    As Esrati said, these are interesting times. American conservatives have been an alliance of various movements with overlapping interests. Business and particularly the financial sector has been very much in charge of their own interests, but you also have the war party (military contractors, people in or identifying with the military, and personal or ideological hawks) , free market ideologues who despise taxes and big government, small business people and social issue conservatives. They have been fairly cohesive, but on the bailout issue the business party and the free market ideologues part ways.

    As a political matter of self preservation, Congresspeople have the example of the war vote and what has happened since. Post 9/11 anxiety and a driven Bush Administration sold people on the war which in hindsight hasn’t looked real great. Obviously the combination of anxiety and patriotism that overran the opposition on the war far exceeds the level of fervor that the US Public has for a bailout of Wall Street. And while America’s desire for victory in Iraq keeps on giving for the pro-War politician, the public is unlikely to keep voting for repeated bailouts. If in fact the voters that really count are those of the Chinese investors who choose to lend us money to pay for the war the bailout and the rest of the economy, the American Congress still has the US voters to pacify as well.

    Since the US economy will not starve to death tomorrow if there isn’t a bailout, an intial no vote is not necessarily a bad thing politically. It will temporarily satisfy all those angry phone callers, including the free market constituency, while Wall Street won’t care as long as they get what they want later. An early no vote will let the member argue that he held out for a better bill and, who knows maybe we will end up with a better bill. And Turner, who got early exposure to the predatory lending problem as mayor of Dayton, has actually supported the bankruptcy reform that is a deal breaker for the administration and many in his party. He could weigh in on the side of more homebuyer protections, particularly if there was a critical mass for doing so. And if it seems like the people are really against the bailout, or if the bailout turns out not to work, it could be survival-friendly not to have a lot of soundbites of you begging for fellow Congresspeople to support it. To some extent the bailout is like an assassination or gang murder where everyone in the gang has to join in stabbing the victim. To work politically there must be near-universal disarmament of deniability.

    McCain and the Rs can probably even imagine opposition to the bailout becoming the big issue to sweep them back into power, given that people have tired of the Iraq war and that immigration has not carried the mail as they had hoped. (They are split on that one too.) If they call Wall Street ‘s (or China’s) bluff and it works, they may regain the macho credibility that has eroded on the war. But if credit dries up long term or bunches of banks fail, it could be the political equivalent of Herbert Hoover.

    While we don’t know what politicians are thinking when they gamble to vote on these sorts of issues, it may not hurt to show that you are in control, to turn down the first offer, and to eventually balance the realities of power as you see them. That is what is likely to happen. In the meantime hopefully the best options to deal with the crisis, keep credit going, minimize foreclosures, prevent a large hit to the taxpayer and keep Wall Street from selling the public another bad mortgage, will emerge from the public debate and be sold convincingly to the Congress.

  2. Mike Bock says:

    Stan, thanks for the analysis. You write, “an initial no vote is not necessarily a bad thing politically.” Yes, I imagine that Turner will eventually support some type of bail out. My point is that his actions seem driven simply by political considerations. His six years of toadying to Bush was also a matter of working “smart” politics. He has missed his opportunity to show that he is a Representative that operates according to sound principles or sound reasoning or even that he operates to “represent” the best interests of his constituency.

    You bring out an interesting point when you write, “Turner, who got early exposure to the predatory lending problem as mayor of Dayton, has actually supported the bankruptcy reform that is a deal breaker for the administration and many in his party.” This is a positive. You probably have more insight into how Turner thinks than I. My point is simple: In his overwhelming support of Bush and the radical Republican agenda, Turner has failed this District and if our democracy had any teeth, he would be resoundly defeated. How can 70% of the electorate disapprove of Bush’s actions and at the same time return to Congress those representative who made his actions possible?

  3. Brian says:

    Turner had better vote “no” on the next bill if he wants my vote again. If a bailout passes I will stop paying my mortgage on time every month.

  4. Jake says:

    Exactly I havn’t looked at the vote roll yet, but I made it clear that if he voted yes I would be gone. The core principals of my republicanism is financial. I didn’t invest my future or that of my childrens so why should I pay

    Rewards for banks= taxes for my children

  5. BillS says:

    Whoa….lets look at how our government is set up before we start passing out blame for anything. First and foremost, it is a Constitutional requirement that spending bills originate on the House. Should the Senate offer such a bill, it must go to the house for their ratification and/or change and then back to the Senate. It is a shame that most bills are loaded with other issues as this prevents a simply vote on one matter at a time, but this is how things are done. The President can only request Congressional actions – he can spend nothing save for the funds in his disgressionary account. In other words, good people, if you have need to blame anyone for spending, look to your Congressmen or Senators. Now that the ‘bailout’ is passed, we need to be sure that those responsible for the mess are properly punished. Several literally cooked the books – that is fraud as investors relied on the figures they saw. Fraud gets people jail time and none involved here should escape penalty. Those on Capitol Hill whi did not do their proper job of watching over these matters for us ( as they are elected to do ) should also be punished severely. In short, the loan fraud matter need not have happened.

  6. JT says:

    On NPR this afternoon, ‘This American Life’ did an hour on the financial crisis. It was one the best analysis of the financial crisis I have heard. It is available on line or as a pod cast. I highly recommend it.

    Everyone from the most engaged to those who have only scratched the surface of this issue will find it very helpful in understanding the issues and what can and should be done. At the end, they give us all an issue to advocate for or against that I had never heard before…enjoy

  7. Steve says:

    Your quoting from the DDN – a highly liberal newspaper. So, take it all with a grain of salt.

    The liberal media is running Obama’s campaign for him, hopefully those able to think for themselves will see through this.

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