What good are friends if they don't hold your feet to the fire?

Thaddeus McCotter is a congressman from a neighboring district, and I saw him speak at a Tea Party rally in Plymouth on April 15. I have a video of some of his speech somewhere, and were I better organized I could upload it which I found and uploaded to YouTube so readers can judge for themselves the man's sincerity, and support for the Tea Party principles of smaller government, and reigning in out-of-control spending.

With that it mind, I was taken aback when I saw a report that McCotter supports the bailout of union pensions:

Michigan Congressman Thad McCotter, R-Livonia, is one of just nine Republicans nationwide to co-sponsor legislation that seeks to bail out union pension funds and put taxpayers "on the hook for $165 billion in unfunded union pension liabilities," according to Americans for Limited Government. McCotter is also the only Michigan U.S. House member from either party to co-sponsor the bill, H.R. 3936, which was introduced by North Dakota Democrat Earl Pomeroy and has 43 total co-sponsors.

One former co-sponsor, Republican Mike Pence of Indiana, removed his name from the bill in late April, and Americans for Limited Government is asking the remaining co-sponsors to do likewise. ALG sent an open letter specifically to the nine other Republicans -- including McCotter -- whose names remain on the bill.

In a news release, ALG President Bill Wilson noted that "labor bosses" spent "hundreds of millions of dollars" to support President Barack Obama, the Democrat majority in Congress, and the nine Republican co-sponsors. Wilson also accused the unions of having the "audacity to try to cash in on their political investment" by passing the bill and loading the liability onto taxpayers who are already "struggling to fund their own retirements."

Why would he do this?

The answer may be simple. Money. Which of course often dictates political survival:

Records from OpenSecrets.org show that McCotter has received more than $870,000 in total funding so far this election cycle, with at least $78,000 of that coming from political action committees run by labor unions. A few examples include the Teamsters ($2,000), Laborer's International Union of North America ($5,000), AFSCME ($1,000), United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners ($2,500), Longshoremen's Association ($2,500) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers ($2,000).
What this shows is how much power the unions have. Standing up to them can be fatal even to an otherwise sincere economic conservative politician's career.

As one of the purposes of the Tea Party movement is to hold these people's feet to the fire, I thought this was worth a blog post. I wouldn't have bothered had I thought McCotter was a political hack, except I really don't think he. I like to think that I'm a good judge of character and the man struck me as a deeply thoughtful, and as someone who sincerely believed in the Tea Party movement and opposes wasteful spending.

The more I thought about it, the more it seemed worth going through my disorganized camera dump files, and as I was lucky enough to find the McCotter video I shot at the Plymouth Tea Party, I thought I'd upload it to YouTube.


Unless my perceptions are wrong, Thaddeus McCotter is a good guy as opposed to the usual political hacks in Congress, and I think he wants to be part of the solution.

We all have our failings, and Michigan is a union state which has been in dire economic straits for a long time. Considering that even some devoutly conservative Michigan Tea Party activists have been willing to overlook their principles when it came to auto industry bailouts, I don't think a congressman who does something similar should be adjudged irredeemable.

Instead, I think the Tea Party-supporting Thaddeus McCotter is a classic example of someone whose feet should be held to the fire.

After all, the bad guys (and true political enemies) are generally hopeless; it's only good guys and friends whose feet can be held to the fire.

posted by Eric on 05.30.10 at 12:08 PM


I grew up in Livonia & know how hard it would be to take any other position if you want to continue to be elected. Bear in mind, the Feds have already taken over many pension funds of large corporations that went bankrupt - it doesn't take legislation to do this.

Chris G   ·  May 30, 2010 5:20 PM

In his defense - and, for context, I HATE the concept of a union pension bailout with all my conservative soul - the distinction between the Senate and the House is that Senators are elected to go to the Senate and work together on behalf of the country qua country, while Congressmen go to represent their own constituency amongst the rest of the states.

He's not in the Senate - he's a congressman, representing that one constituency probably in the direst need of such a pension bailout.

Arguably, he may well just be doing his duty, even though it conflicts with his overarching values. Voting against the bailout would hurt the people he represents much more than it would hurt most others. As a Congressman (meaning, with different duties and scope than a Senator), can (or should) he do that?

bobby b   ·  May 30, 2010 6:42 PM

"Voting against the bailout would hurt the people he represents much more than it would hurt most others."

I really fail to see how pulling the entire country down with him "helps" anyone.

How do you kick the can down the road when the road has ended and all that's left is the edge of a cliff?

guy   ·  May 30, 2010 9:53 PM

sure let's bail unions out so they can continue to feed $100's million to the demorats every 2 years

newrouter   ·  May 31, 2010 7:49 AM

Is there something about Michigan, and Livonia in particular, that produces hypocrites and crooks?
Take Craftsman Shoe Repair on Middlebelt in Livonia - run by a rude, and crooked ass of a man who not only shits on his customers, but also steels from his suppliers. And now do I know? Because I'm one of his former suppliers who got bilked out of a days pay and have the bad check this crook gave me to prove it.
Don't believe me? Google his business.
That a Republican from Livonia would want to steel billions from the rest of us to bail out some of his constituents retirement pensions is no different than the jackass cobbler - just a matter of scale.
What difference does it make if he has an R after his name on the ballot. Still a thief.

Frank   ·  May 31, 2010 10:51 PM

Sorry about the typ0 "steel" above - should have been steal. Hey, it's Decoration Day & I've had a few.

Frank   ·  May 31, 2010 10:55 PM

I lost most of my respect for McCotter when he supported the auto bailout. Some combination of hypocrite & opportunist; remaining respect gone now.

mstruth77   ·  June 1, 2010 8:32 AM

This was really tough for me, President of my local Thad McCotter Fan Club. ;)

I fell for McCotter's thoughtful political persona through his appearances on Red Eye and in various YouTube videos including one at this year's CPAC. I see him now as a tragic figure.

'Have blogged about him lots with stars in my eyes and bantered in Twitter till recently, when he appears to have stopped twittering at the same time I sent him a link to my own blogpost about the union bailout, "Et tu, McCotter:


Sissy Willis   ·  June 1, 2010 11:44 AM

Have twittered a link to your excellent post to the man himself.

Sissy Willis   ·  June 1, 2010 11:50 AM

Thanks everyone.

And Sissy, welcome and thanks for doing that. I'm honored if you think my post will be of any assistance.


Eric Scheie   ·  June 1, 2010 7:54 PM

If you gave Scott Brown a pass, Thaddeus McCotter deserves one also. Mr. McCotter holds a House seat on the Democrat side of Michigan that's chock full of UAW retirees.

I have seen Mr. McCotter as a semi-frequent guest on Fox's Red Eye. He comes off as a thoughtful, sincere guy. He's strongly pro-life, and represents pro-life Democrats. If he were replaced by a Democrat (he's targeted), his replacement would be as pro-life as Bart Stupak. (Remember ObamaCare?)

There's one thing for a uber-red state like Utah, Arizona, or South Carolina to send a RINO to Washington, it's another thing to tolerate ideological moderation from people representing Blue regions of the country.

We are talking about elected Representatives here. If Mr. McCotter's constituents are highly favorable of something we don't like, he has to faithfully represent them. It was that lack of faith, that positioning of ideology over representation, that made ObamaCare such a travesty.

I don't object to Mr. McCotter representing his district at this point.

Steve Poling   ·  June 2, 2010 10:06 AM

McCotter is a political hack. He has done nothing else his entire career but be in the government he so "despises" and giving breaks of various sorts to his friends and contributors. Now that he is facing a tough opponent in an increasingly Democratic district, he is pandering to the unions who might give him the edge this time. It's time to throw him out with the rest of the bums.

michiganhunter   ·  June 2, 2010 10:07 AM

I'm not in or from Michigan, so no dog in this fight - I, too, became a fan while watching him on Red Eye - but McCotter seems to me to be the kind of intelligent and thoughtful person of conservative persuasion we WANT to see involved in national politics.

He has some constraints on what he can do, given the area he represents, but, if you can ignore his almost obligatory auto-policy
votes, he's consistently and correctly conservative.

Watch some of the Youtube clips of his talks and speeches. He's the kind of guy you listen to and then think "yeah!"

"We hear the hypocrites in this country say that Saddam was a bad man, but the United States should not have taken him from power. I ask them to say that to the Iraqi victims' faces. For those people who believe America is the greatest threat to peace in the world, I ask them never to show their faces in public again." (Congressional Record, July 22, 2004)

bobby b   ·  June 3, 2010 11:57 AM

Eric: In response to my sending a link to your post, the Congressman wrote back the following:

"The facts are otherwise."


Anonymous   ·  June 3, 2010 1:25 PM

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