DesJarlais has generally been handicapped since the beginning. He only won 37% of the vote in the 2010 primary, but thanks to the overall shift toward conservatism, he was able to win the general election against the then incumbent Democrat Lincoln Davis.
He has now had nearly four years in Congress to show us just how much of a limited government conservative he is. I've gone over his voting record and I have a few very serious questions about why voted the way has.
Voting Record Scores
Here are the scores issued by four different organizations.
According to FreedomWorks, his score for 2011 was 77%, during 2012 it was 55%, and for 2013 it was also 77%.
The New American gives him 77% for 2011-12 and 80% for 2013-14.
Heritage Action gives him 69% for 2011-12 and 81% for 2013-14.
Then there is his environmental score card from the League of Conservation Voters which gave him 6% in 2011, 3% in 2012, and 4% in 2013. For 2014 he seems to be on track for 0%.
DesJarlais voted for HR 1947, the 2013 Farm Bill. The bill not only includes vast amounts of subsidies (something he has publicly opposed before), but it will cost $940 billion over ten years. On top of spending, the bill gives the government more power to control the price of dairy products instead of the free market (producers and consumers). For the "Dairy Market Stabilization Program," private suppliers & distributors will have to pay an estimated $100 million in compliance fees.
DesJarlais voted against cutting $1.5 billion from government sponsored "alternative energy" research. (H.Amdt. 258 to H.R. 2609). Yet, just a month after, during an August 13, 2013 town hall, Rep. DesJarlais publicly denounced subsidies for such things.
He voted against the Republican Study Committee's "Back to Basics" budget reform which would have cut billions from discretionary spending, actually reformed Medicare and would have helped to make it solvent again. Remember, the Medicare fund will run out of money in a short 12 years. It would have also realigned the Social Security retirement age to match ever increasing lifespans.
He voted against Amendment #46 to H.R. 2379. The bill itself was to reauthorize the 2001 "Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against Terrorists." Our Founding Fathers never intended for us to be at war without end, and our government has continually failed to outline what exactly we're fighting against. Moreover, it has failed to outline how we plan on winning. "Terrorism" is a nebulous word that can mean just about anything, the job of Congress is to declare wars and to fund them, and if there is no actual deceleration it is their job to stop it. Simply allowing the President to use the military however, whenever, and for however long he wishes, is an abuse of war powers and a forfeiture of Congress' power. The amendment would have required Congress to properly define and authorize the military actions which place our young men and women at harm.
He voted against Amendment #12 to H.R.1960 which would have prohibited the indefinite military detention of anyone apprehended in the United States and would require them to be formally charged and face trial. The law doesn't end just because you're a criminal, nor does the Constitution stop applying just because you may have committed a crime - which terrorism is. Our laws provide that all persons arrested must be charged and face trial. We put Timothy McVeigh on trial, we put Saddam Hussein on trial, we put Hermann Goering and Albert Speer on trial - we can, and should, put anyone arrested in the United States on trial. How are we to defend our way of life and protect our moral standing if we turn our backs on one of the most important and sacred foundations of our country?
He voted for CISPA (Cyber Intelligence and Sharing Protection Act). We have known for years that the NSA and other federal agencies have been gathering personal data on Americans and on those whom we contact overseas. CISPA would have granted the federal government far reaching powers to collect, store, and share our electronic communications (e-mail, Internet searches, chat room contents etc.) and would have forced Internet providers and other companies to hand over that information to the government. There is zero reason for the government to know everything about us. Whether you have something to hide or not, the Constitution makes it very clear, the government is only allowed to search you if they have a warrant. Treating every American like a criminal is antithetical to freedom, to our Constitution, and it is an insult to the nearly 1 million soldiers who have died in wars fighting to defend our freedoms.
He voted for the FISA Re-authorization Act of 2012. This allows the government warrantless access to communications to American citizens by potential "targets". As we have seen with the NSA, this type of power can be abused. FISA is an incredibly secretive agency with little to no real oversight. They operate by a set of secret rules and ostensibly only answer to the President. The existence of "kill lists", the fact that the Administration killed a 16-year old American citizen the year before this vote, and the fact that the label "terrorist" could be pinned to nearly anyone - for all these reasons and more, it should make a so-called "Constitutionalist Congressman" reject giving the federal government any more power without looking at serious reform and demanding substantial oversight.
He voted to continue imposing countervailing duties on countries like China and Vietnam. While this is done to "punish" those countries for manipulating prices, it actually only serves as a form of trade-warfare and in the end, like always, it drives up the costs consumers must pay. These costs are always felt most by those who can least afford it.
On a related issue, he also voted to reauthorize the "Export-Import Bank", which is a completely obsolete federal bureaucracy. Founded in 1934, this "federal bank" provides loans to companies to help them export American-made goods to other countries. Specifically, the bank provides loans & guarantees for transactions that would most likely not take place from private-sector banks because they are unable or unwilling to take the risks (which sounds an awful lot like the federal mandate which directed banks to provide loans to high-risk home buyers, a mandate that caused the horrific 2007-2008 economic crisis). It also serves as another form of corporate welfare. In terms of dollars, 75% of the Ex-Im Bank's loans went to the country's 10 largest exporters, including GE and Boeing.
He voted against closing the "Economic Development Administration", which was established in 1965, and serves to "lead" the federal economic agenda by promoting various businesses. This is another completely obsolete and redundant program and is used by members of Congress to further their pet projects and agendas, and for 2014, cost taxpayers $247 million.
On May 18, 2012, DesJarlais voted against Rep. Adam Smith's amendment to H.R. 4310 (Amdt. 1127) which would have prevented the indefinite detention of American citizens without charge or trial. Because of this, any American citizen may be held for their entire life if the government desires without access to a lawyer, without knowing the charges against them, and without the ability to refute the charges and defend themselves. I cannot stress this enough, if we disregard our laws and Constitutional - God-given - rights, then we have become exactly the type of nation real terrorists want us to be.
He voted for increasing the Export-Import Bank's lending cap by $40 billion. That vote placed the American people at risk for an additional $40 billion if the loans are not paid back. Remember, the Ex-Im Bank's very purpose is to provide high risk loans.
He voted against House Concurrent Resolution #51 which would have required Obama to remove U.S. troops from Libya pursuant to the War Powers Resolution which requires that the President gains the support of Congress for any troop deployment (be it one soldier or one million) for periods greater than 60 days. During the Libyan crisis, Obama had time to consult the UN, the African Union and the Arab League, yet apparently didn't have time to consult Congress, in which the powers to declare war are vested. In other words, DesJarlais voted to allow Obama to violate the law and risk American lives for a conflict in which we had no real national interest to fight.
He voted for S. 990 of the PATRIOT Sunsets Extensions Act of 2011. According to The New American this,
"extended for four years three provisions of the Patriot Act that were set to expire: the "roving wiretap" provision that allows the federal government to wiretap any number of a suspect's telephone/ Internet connections without specifying what they will find or how many connections will be tapped; the "financial records" provision that allows the feds to seize "any tangible thing" that has "relevance" to an investigation; and the "lone wolf" provision that allows spying on non-U.S. citizens without a warrant. These provisions violate the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which requires that no warrants be issued "but upon probable cause" (a much higher standard than "relevance"), and that warrants must contain language "particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."
Franking is essentially "official mailings" which are paid for by taxpayers and it enables legislators to keep in contact with their constituents. Franking has been a part of our government since its inception and dates back much earlier. However, abuse and misuse has been a real problem over the years and franking has actually been abolished on several occasions. Since 1973, the rules governing franking have been refined and strengthened, but the fact still remains that there are loopholes and that these mailings are paid for out of taxes.
For someone claiming to be a fiscal conservative, one might expect that their franking bill would be on the low end. Unfortunately, Rep. DesJarlais is one of the largest users of franking. For all of 2011, his mailings cost taxpayers over $282,000 coming in at #4, meaning he outspent 431 other members of Congress! For FY 2012, Congress spent $24.8 million on mailings, and while this amount is small compared the entire Congressional budget, this is one easy area in which spending can be cut, especially since it is also an area which has seen lots of misuse.
It is more than apparent from his voting record, that he has violated his oath to uphold and defend the Constitution, that he has lied to us regarding his support for subsidies, and that he is not, by any means, a fiscal conservative. We can and must do better. I urge each of you to reject DesJarlais in favor of someone who isn't either a big-government spender or a career politician, and to support one who has a sound understanding of the Constitution, the role of the federal government and who doesn't think a bureaucracy can solve the problems facing us. There's only one candidate I can think of who genuinely believes in your ability to govern your own life and who is a strict Constitutionalist, and that is Steve Lane.