The class of 87 freshman Republicans who came in promising to be the most fiscally conservative bunch of congressman the Capitol had ever known have instead been sort of a letdown, one group is saying.
Club for Growth, a PAC committed to seeing strong fiscal conservatives in office, unleashed a report card that it hopes dispels the perception that the Class of 2010 was as pro-growth as it claimed to be.
"Actions should matter," says Barney Keller, the Club for Growth spokesman. "It is really irrelevant what you ran on as a candidate to us. What we have seen is the freshman Republicans are just like veteran Republicans. There is no difference between the freshman Republicans and the veteran Republicans except there are just more of them."
Sitting at the bottom of the Club for Growth list is West Virginia Rep. David McKinley, along with Illinois Rep. Robert Dold, and Pennsylvania Rep. Patrick Meehan.
But even Florida Rep. Allen West, who has been hailed a Tea Party darling, ranked 54 out of 87 on the list--for voting to increase the debt ceiling and failing to vote for cuts to the Department of Agriculture and the Department of the Interior.
"You have seen the Republican Party in the House pass legislation that hasn't been fiscally conservative," Keller says. "Most of the Republicans voted to raise the debt ceiling, voted for the import-export bank...I think it is apparent that Republicans haven't learned their lessons from 2006 when the voters cast them out for abandoning their promises that they were going to cut federal spending."
Keller argues that some in the freshman class have set the bar pretty low, patting themselves on the backs for merely spending less than Democrats.
Three freshman Republicans did, however, live up to their campaign promises, according to Club for Growth. Michigan Rep. Justin Amash, Kansas Rep. Tim Huelskamp, and Idaho Rep. Raul Labrador all earned perfect scores by voting to repeal the Affordable Care Act, voting against the rise in the debt ceiling, and voting to roll back spending to 2006 levels.
South Carolina Rep. Mick Mulvaney, who ranked in the top five most fiscally responsible freshman members, says he agrees with Club for Growth's assessment and has been frustrated with his fellow freshman Republicans in Congress.
"We are a cross-section of the overall conference, and I think that's been one of the biggest disappointments for me as a conservative coming in on that wave in 2010," Mulvaney says. "I thought I was coming in with a class of folks who shared a lot of the same fiscal concerns that I had, and it's evident by what we've done and evident by the voting records that that's not the case."