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Roger L. Simon

Notes for the Day After: Who Is Fred Upton?

October 29th, 2010 - 12:01 am

Even if their victory is as big as predicted November 2nd, Republicans and Tea Partiers had better not waste one second gloating. Their work will have barely begun.

Complicating the matter, those two groups do not necessarily have the same goals. At this moment, it’s pretty clear who the Tea Party is. But who are the Republicans?

We will learn a lot about that quickly after the election. The House leadership, John Boehner and Eric Cantor, in whatever order, will have to choose committee chairmen. There are land mines.

One of those is Fred Upton. Who is Fred?  Well, he is the Republican representative from Michigan’s 6th who has served in Congress since 1987.  More interestingly, he is in line to be chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee (not the Ways & Means Committee, as Eleanor Clift assumed.)

No matter there.  Yet more interesting is Upton’s voting record, which might be of concern to Tea Party supporters.

To begin with, Upton was one of the tiny number of Republicans to oppose the surge in Iraq. And it wasn’t just routine opposition.  Upton spoke on the House floor on behalf of the resolution opposing the increase of troops that eventually won the war.

And it’s not just that he was on the wrong side of history (others were); he has been on the wrong side of the economy as well. Upton has voted “yes” on bailing out Wall Street and “yes” on almost all Obama-Pelosi spending, including the $409 billion Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009, which gave Obama $19 billion more than he asked for and contained $7.7 billion in earmarks. He also voted “no” on tax cuts, being one of only three Republicans to oppose Bush tax cuts back in 2005.

But wait, as they say, there’s more. Much more — especially in areas that relate specifically to the critical House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Perhaps most importantly, Fred Upton is a “climate change” true believer.  Although the congressman has no discernible science background  — he has a B.A. in journalism — he told the Subcommittee on Energy and Environment as late as early 2009 re: global warming, “I have said at nearly every climate change hearing that for me I don’t dispute the science. Right or wrong, the debate over the modeling and science appears to be over.”

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