What's the Right Approach to Hold Fiscal Conservatives Accountable?

Jillian Bandes
|
Posted: Nov 08, 2010 8:35 AM
Some strong fiscal conservatives have been elected, but will they do what they say? We can glean a few bits of insight from their recent statements, and vow to examine every vote they take in the coming weeks. But where do you draw the line in terms of holding their feet to the fire?

Rightscoop writes about one specific instance of Rep. Michelle Bachmann being hounded by Anderson Cooper about her inability to name three specific cuts. Rightscoop is defensive of Bachmann's inability to do so:
I know they will start trying to remove waste from the system and cutting irrelevant programs, but we need to let them get in there and figure out what needs to be cut before we start hounding them on knowing exactly what they are going to cut. 
In other words... give them a break. Wait until the votes that count come up for consideration. I'm not sure that I agree — Bachmann has been in office for almost four years, and is one of the most outspoken members of Congress on fiscal conservatism. But Republicans get hammered far harder on issues about fiscal restraint than do equally outspoken Democrats, and we can't place that much blame on her for a "gotcha" type question.

My article today mentions an instance where Senator-elect Rand Paul was questioned by MSNBC host Joe Scarborough on whether he willing he was going to take on the “Republican establishment bulls” in the Senate. To this, Paul replied.  "You think they're going to listen to me, Joe?" It was disheartening, to say the least.

An astute reader emails me in response:
He should have said ""You think they're going to listen to me, Joe, when you guys keep talking about how extreme I am?"
Perhaps that's the biggest lesson to be learned. As long as fiscal conservatism is seen as extreme — as is making the hard choices about entitlements and public services — then there's no hope for these guys to stand up for their principles. It's up to constituents to make it clear that cutting those kinds of things is an acceptable thing to talk about on national television.