Despite His Conservative Record, NRCC Absurdly Suggests Minnick Is Rampantly Liberal

October 29, 2010 2:46 pm ET

In a new ad attacking Rep. Walt Minnick (D-ID), the National Republican Congressional Committee all but outright lies when it says that Minnick is "part of the problem" with "out of control spending, national energy tax, government takeover of health care." You see, Rep. Minnick, who can lay claim to the title of most conservative Democrat in the House, voted against the Recovery Act (and all other forms of fiscal stimulus), clean energy legislation, and health care reform. Furthermore, holding up the statistic that Minnick votes with Speaker Pelosi 70 percent of the time as evidence that Minnick votes the party line is absurd: Minnick bucks his own party more often then any of the 435 House members, Republicans included. 

NRCC: "Put The Brakes On Walt Minnick"

In Washington, one party has absolute power. Out of control spending, national energy tax, government takeover of health care, and Walt Minnick is part of the problem. Walt Minnick votes the Pelosi party line on seven out of every ten votes he casts. Too far, too fast, in the absolute wrong direction. Put the brakes on Pelosi. Replace Mark Schauer. The National Republican Congressional Committee is responsible for the content of this advertising.

See our fact checks of nearly identical ads going after Reps. Schauer and Markey HERE and HERE.

Minnick, The Most Conservative House Democrat, Voted Against Most Major Dem Legislation

Minnick "Bucked His Party" On Almost All Important Legislation. According to "A Democrat with the most conservative voting record in the House, Minnick has bucked his party on nearly every marquee piece of legislation since taking office." [, accessed 10/29/10]

Minnick Voted Against All Stimulus Spending. From "Minnick voted against all versions of the $787-billion economic stimulus package that passed in February 2009. The bill, he said, permitted excessive, inefficient spending. In February 2009, Minnick authored his own stimulus plan, a $174 billion proposal that sought to cut taxes by $100 billion, direct $70 billion to infrastructure projects and create a $4 billion job-training program." [, accessed 10/29/10, internal citations deleted]

Minnick Voted Against Health Care Reform. From Boise ABC affiliate KIVI-TV: "It came as no surprise, but both Representative Mike Simpson and Walt Minnick voted against health care reform. ... Democrat Walt Minnick was the focus of a email campaign trying to swing his vote. It didn't work. Minnick released this statement late Sunday night. 'I voted no today because I was elected to listen to my constituents, seek the best possible information and use my best judgment to make the right decision for Idaho. It was a difficult vote because, like all Idahoans, I truly do care about improving the health-insurance system, about reducing costs and about improving care. But I voted against this bill because it is critical to the long-term fiscal health of the country that we not get this wrong.'" [KIVI-TV, 3/22/10]

Minnick Voted Against Clean Energy Legislation. From Rep. Minnick's website:

Idaho Congressman Walt Minnick released the following statement regarding today's planned vote in the U.S. House of Representatives on the Waxman-Markey bill.
"After several weeks of very serious consideration, I have decided to vote against the American Clean Energy and Security Act. 'Cap and trade' is not the best way to control greenhouse gas emissions, nor is it the right solution for Idaho. It will raise prices, make it harder to invest and is bad for business at a time when we must be focused on creating jobs.


"I am also voting 'no' because this is too important to get wrong. Our nation desperately needs a new approach to deal with the frightening consequences of a deteriorating atmosphere. But I believe there is a better way than 'cap and trade.' 

[, 6/26/09]

Minnick Votes The Party Line Least Out Of All 435 House Members

FactCheck.Org: Minnick's Voting Score Ranks Him Lowest In Party Loyalty. From's article on an NRCC ad suggesting Rep. Bobby Bright is a Pelosi loyalist:

In a strained attempt to portray Democratic Rep. Bobby Bright of Alabama as a puppet of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the National Republican Congressional Committee makes an interesting claim: "Bobby Bright voted with Nancy Pelosi over 70 percent of the time." That's entirely true, but context is everything: Bright's low score ranks him next to last in party loyalty.

The ad, which first aired Sept. 12, is one of several released by the NRCC this week that use Pelosi as a foil. In some of those ads, the NRCC relies on the Washington Post's votes database, which ranks members based on party votes, to prove their blind allegiance to their leader. For example, the NRCC criticizes Reps. Chet Edwards of Texas (96 percent) and Ben Chandler of Kentucky (94 percent) for voting with Pelosi over 90 percent of the time.

Bobby Bright? As of Sept. 16, he clocks in at 71.8 percent. Only Rep. Walt Minnick, D-Idaho, has a lower score among the 435 House members, at 70.9 percent. That was low enough to earn Minnick the endorsement of the Tea Party Express.

[, 9/16/10, emphasis added]

High Voting Percentages Are Relatively Meaningless Because They Reflect Mundane Votes. From The Hill:

The explanation for the elevated voting percentages is simple: While hotly-disputed legislation on healthcare, climate change and government spending command the public's attention, the vast majority of congressional votes occur on more mundane and non-controversial items, like the naming of post offices or designating weeks or months to cancer awareness and other causes.

In the database of votes that campaigns rely on for attack ads, however, a vote to designate June 30th as National ESIGN Day or to congratulate the South Carolina Gamecocks for winning the College World Series counts the same as votes to overhaul the nation's healthcare and energy industries.

[The Hill, 10/13/10]

Even Reps. Boehner, Pence, Cantor, Sessions and Bachmann Usually Vote With Speaker Pelosi. From The Hill:

Boehner has voted with the Democratic leadership 52 percent of the time in 2010. So has Rep. Mike Pence (Ind.), chairman of the Republican conference and former head of the conservative Republican Study Committee.

Rep. Eric Cantor (Va.), the House Republican whip, and Rep. Pete Sessions (Tex.), head of the GOP's House campaign committee, are even cozier with Pelosi. They've voted with her 57 percent of the time.

And Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.), the conservative firebrand who has compared the Democratic agenda to socialism? She's with Pelosi on 58 percent of House votes.

The data come from a Democratic leadership review of the 565 roll call votes in the House from January through the end of September, when Congress left Washington for the campaign trail. Since the Speaker herself rarely votes, the comparison is made using the recommended vote of the party leadership.

[The Hill, 10/13/10]

There Was No "Government Takeover Of Health Care"

PolitiFact: "Obama's Plan Leaves In Place The Private Health Care System." Analyzing Sen. Tom Coburn's claim that President Obama's health care reform plan amounted to a government takeover of health care, wrote:

[H]e's wrong that Obama's plan offers government-run health care.

In fact, Obama's plan leaves in place the private health care system, but seeks to expand it to the uninsured. It increases eligibility for the poor and children to enroll in initiatives like Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program, and creates pools for individuals to buy their own cheaper insurance. It also outlines strategies to rein in costs for everyone, such as electronic medical records and preventive care.


That may be Sen. Coburn's opinion on what could happen, but it's definitely not part of Obama's plan. And Coburn was very specific in saying that "under the Obama plan, all the health care in this country is eventually going to be run by the government." That gives the incorrect impression that Obama is promoting a government-run health care system. He's not. We rate Coburn's statement False.

[, 3/4/10, emphasis added]

Clean Energy Legislation Would Boost The Economy...

Clean Energy Legislation Would Boost GDP By Up To $111 Billion. According to the University of California-Berkeley: "Comprehensive clean energy and climate protection legislation, like the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES) that was passed by the House of Representatives in June, would strengthen the U.S. economy by establishing pollution limits and incentives that together will drive large-scale investments in clean energy and energy efficiency...New analysis by the University of California shows conclusively that climate policy will strengthen the U.S. economy as a whole. Full adoption of the ACES package of pollution reduction and energy efficiency measures would ... boost GDP by $39 billion-$111 billion. These economic gains are over and above the growth the U.S. would see in the absence of such a bill." [UC Berkeley, accessed 1/22/10]

Clean Energy Legislation Would Boost Household Income By Nearly $1,200 Per Year. According to the University of California-Berkeley: "Full adoption of the ACES package of pollution reduction and energy efficiency measures would create between 918,000 and 1.9 million new jobs, increase annual household income by $487-$1,175 per year. ... These economic gains are over and above the growth the U.S. would see in the absence of such a bill." [UC Berkeley, accessed 1/22/10] 

...Create Millions Of Jobs Across The Country...

Idaho Would Gain 9,000 Jobs From An Investment In Clean Energy Technologies. According to the Center for American Progress and the Political Economy Research Institute, "Idaho could see a net increase of about $690 million in investment revenue and 9,000 jobs based on its share of a total of $150 billion in clean-energy investments annually across the country. This is even after assuming a reduction in fossil fuel spending equivalent to the increase in clean energy investments. Adding 9,000 jobs to the Idaho labor market in 2008 would have brought the state's unemployment rate down to 3.7 percent from its actual 2008 level of 4.9 percent." [Center for American Progress & Political Economy Research Institute, Clean-Energy Investments Create Jobs in Iowa, June 2009]

Investment In Clean Energy Technology Would Create Up To 1.9 Million American Jobs. According to the University of California-Berkeley, "new analysis by the University of California shows conclusively that climate policy will strengthen the U.S. economy as a whole. Full adoption of the ACES package of pollution reduction and energy efficiency measures would create between 918,000 and 1.9 million new jobs." [UC Berkeley, accessed 1/22/10]

Investment In Clean Energy Technology Creates FOUR TIMES As Many Jobs As An Investment In Oil & Gas. According to the Center for American Progress, "spending $1 million on energy efficiency and renewable energy produces a much larger expansion of employment than spending the same amount on fossil fuels or nuclear energy. Among fossil fuels, job creation in coal is about 32 percent greater than that for oil and natural gas. The employment creation for energy efficiency-retrofitting and mass transit-is 2.5 times to four times larger than that for oil and natural gas. With renewable energy, the job creation ranges between 2.5 times to three times more than that for oil and gas." [Center for American Progress, The Economic Benefits of Investing in Clean Energy, 6/17/09]

...And Cost Less Than A Quarter A Day

Reuters: "Climate Legislation Moving Through Congress Would Have Only A Modest Impact On Consumers." According to Reuters: "A new U.S. government study on Tuesday adds to a growing list of experts concluding that climate legislation moving through Congress would have only a modest impact on consumers, adding around $100 to household costs in 2020. Under the climate legislation passed by the House of Representatives in June, electricity, heating oil and other bills for average families will rise $134 in 2020 and $339 in 2030, according to the Energy Information Administration, the country's top energy forecaster." [Reuters8/5/09]

EIA: Clean Energy Legislation Would Cost Only $0.23 Per Day. According to a House Energy and Commerce Committee factsheet of the Energy Information Administration's analysis of the American Clean Energy and Security Act: "The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) has completed an analysis of the American Clean Energy and Security Act (H.R. 2454), as passed by the U.S. House of Representatives... The overall impact on the average household, including the benefit of many of the energy efficiency provisions in the legislation, would be 23 cents per day ($83 per year). This is consistent with analyses by the Congressional Budget Office which projects a cost of 48 cents per day ($175 per year) and the Environmental Protection Agency which projects a cost of 22 to 30 cents per day ($80 to $111 per year)." [House Energy and Commerce Committee, EIA's Economic Analysis Of "The American Clean Energy And Security Act Of 2009," 8/4/09; emphasis original]

CBO: In 2020, Cap-And-Trade Will Only Cost An Average Of $175 Annually, "About A Postage Stamp A Day." In its analysis of the American Clean Energy and Security Act, the Congressional Budget Office wrote: "On that basis, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that the net annual economy wide cost of the cap-and-trade program in 2020 would be $22 billion-or about $175 per household." Rep. Edward Markey noted it was "the cost of about a postage stamp a day." [CBO, 6/19/09; House Committee on Energy & Commerce Release, 6/20/09]

Cap-And-Trade Would DECREASE Energy Prices For Low-Income Americans. In its analysis of the American Clean Energy and Security Act, the Congressional Budget Office wrote, "households in the lowest income quintile would see an average net benefit of about $40 in 2020." [CBO, 6/19/09; emphasis original]

EPA: Senate's American Power Act Would Cost Families $79-$146 Per Year Over The Next Four Decades. According to The Hill: "A new EPA analysis of Senate climate change legislation estimates the plan would impose an average annual household cost of $79 to $146 over 40 years." [The Hill, 6/15/10]

Peterson Institute: American Power Act Would Only Cause "Between A $136 Increase And A $35 Decrease" In Annual Energy Costs Per Household. In its analysis of the American Power Act, the Peterson Institute for International Economics wrote: "In our analysis, households see somewhere between a $136 increase and a $35 dollar decrease in annual energy expenditures, depending on future improvements in vehicle efficiency. The American Power Act also returns much of the revenue raised through the sale of pollution permits to households, with further mitigates the impact of higher energy prices." [Peterson Institute, May 2010]