Monday, January 06, 2020


Retiring Texas congressman Will Hurd just gave an interview to The New York Times Magazine. He was asked about his reputation as a moderate.
You’re a moderate conservative, but your voting record in the House aligns with President Trump’s position about 80 percent of the time. No one would call him a moderate anything. So what does “moderate” mean to you? I believe that Americans agree on 80 percent of stuff. I try to focus on those things. That’s separate from my voting record.
He later sought to expand on these remarks.
And can I take a second to clarify your question about the Trump score?

Of course. It oversimplifies votes. The president doesn’t write laws; Congress does.... The question also presupposed that all of the president’s positions are wrong. I voted to keep the government open, give disaster relief, for the First Step Act and criminal-justice reform.

When you say that your focus is on the 80 percent of things on which Americans agree, I wonder if that way of looking at things isn’t slightly — Pollyanna-ish?

I was going to say distorting. Isn’t the 20 percent on which people disagree what constitutes the key differences between politicians and the crucial issues for voters? I’m not saying the 20 percent is unimportant. But you have a political system in which you win in November by creating contrast. So you’re always creating contrast. That is the structural system. The difference with a district like mine is that when you solve problems and work across the aisle, you’re rewarded because people on both sides, and independents, ultimately end up voting for someone like me. That’s the kind of system we should have. The only way big things have ever been done in this country is in a bipartisan way.
There's a bit of bamboozlement here. Hurd suggests that he can be a moderate while voting with Trump 80% of the time because, heck, we all agree on 80% of stuff. (Although he also suggests that this 80% agreement doesn't relate to his voting record. I'm confused.) As for the 20%, hey, it's just "creating contrast" for electoral purposes -- although it would be wrong to say it's "unimportant." Whatever he's trying to say, he thinks he should work across the aisle to solve problems for people in his district, because that's good for his constituents, and we all know that only bipartisanship gets important stuff done, right?

FiveThirtyEight has tracked Hurd's votes. Here are a few bills that were voted on in the Democratic-led House in 2019 for which Trump wanted a no vote, and Hurd complied. These are issues on which a little bipartisanship might have gotten things done for Hurd's constituents, as well as the rest of us -- but I guess these are among the 20% of issues on which Hurd is "creating contrast" in the interests of his future electoral viability as a Republican:
Feb. 28: Giving law enforcement agencies more time to conduct background checks for gun sales

May 2: Blocking President Trump from withdrawing from the Paris agreement on climate change

May 16: Lowering prescription drug costs and reversing changes to the Affordable Care Act

July 18: Raising the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour

Dec. 6: Restoring parts of the Voting Rights Act
Trump opposed all these bills, and so did Hurd. But it's just creating contrast, right? He's still a moderate, right?

Prior to this, when Republicans controlled the House in the first two years of Trump's presidency, here were some of the bills on which Hurd voted with his party and his president:
Jan. 13, 2017: Budget resolution to repeal the Affordable Care Act

Jan. 24, 2017: Permanent ban on the use of federal funds for abortion or health coverage that includes abortions

Feb. 1, 2017: Repeal of the stream protection rule

Feb. 2, 2017: Repeal of a rule requiring some federal contractors to report labor violations

Feb. 3, 2017: Repeal of a rule requiring energy companies to reduce waste and emissions

June 8, 2017: Dismantling financial regulations put in place by the Dodd-Frank Act

June 29, 2017: Penalizing states and localities that have “sanctuary” laws on immigration

July 18, 2017: Delaying implementation of ozone standards

Oct. 3, 2017: Banning abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy

Nov. 16, 2017: Overhauling the tax code (House version)

Dec. 6, 2017: Making concealed-carry firearm permits valid across state lines

Dec. 19, 2017: Overhauling the tax code (conference committee version)

Dec. 20, 2017: Overhauling the tax code (final version)

April 12, 2018: Constitutional balanced budget amendment

May 8, 2018: Repeal of guidance meant to protect borrowers from discriminatory markups on auto loans

May 22, 2018: Rolling back some bank regulations put in place by the Dodd-Frank Act
But remember, he's still a moderate> He still agrees with the rest of us on 80% of everything. He was just creating contrast with all these votes.

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