Sunday, October 4, 2015

Chaffetz to Run for House Speaker

Congressman Chaffetz
(Wikipedia Commons)
        Who would win a face race? ;)
Congressman McCarthy
(Wikipedia Commons)
Jason Chaffetz, a Republican Congressman from Utah, announced on Fox News Sunday that he would enter the race for House Speaker against Kevin McCarthy, and news sources are painting him as one of the first challengers to actually be potentially threatening. Chaffetz is two years younger than McCarthy, who is already younger than most speakers, but Chaffetz is head of a prominent committee (House Oversight and Government Reform) and a recognizable face after he lead the charge against Planned Parenthood earlier last week.

One of Chaffetz's self-proclaimed qualifications is his talent for public speech. He accuses Kevin McCarthy for soiling the image of the Republican party when he bluntly implied that the Benghazi Special Committee had been designed to make Hillary Clinton appear untrustworthy.

Political commentators from CNN agree--they say that McCarthy's announcement was the best thing to have happened to Clinton for a long time. But check out Chaffetz's speaking skills for yourself: he gets heated up about Planned Parenthood in this video interview.

With regards to the debt ceiling decision coming up in November (hey, government has a nerve-wracking November deadline, just like we do), Chaffetz says,

“the only way you can raise the debt ceiling is to change the trajectory of spending — that’s my personal preference. But I want the Ways and Means Committee to offer up a solution.”

A quick On the Issues check reveals that Chaffetz is generally consistent on opposing excess government spending, and he supported the campaign for a balanced-budget amendment. Chaffetz is not an extremely radical member of his party and belongs to neither the Freedom or Tea Party caucuses, but he also expressed a willingness (according to Daily Intelligencer) to pass Republican bills in the House regardless of how they fare in the Senate/White House, indicating that he will seek to be less of a moderator than Boehner or McCarthy. On the topic of committees, Chaffetz says he will give them more power and allow for more amendments and floor debate in order to

“win the support of our hardcore conservatives and yet be palatable to our more moderate members”

I don't know---it seems like Boehner tried (unsuccessfully) to do the same thing in "It's Even Worse Than It Looks." As for the public speaking ability, is Chaffetz gearing up to be another Newt Gingrich? Chaffetz has admitted that he is "comfortable with losing," and only stepped up because Ryan and Gowdy refused. So what are his motives for breaking a good relationship with McCarthy by claiming that McCarthy's ineptitude compelled him (Chaffetz) to run? Do Chaffetz's supposed qualifications have any real traction? How will he shape the upcoming debt ceiling debate, and will his respect for radical members bring him down as hard as it did Boehner?

Your thoughts, please.

Daily Intelligencer
The Gavel (Politico's blog)
CNN(Planned Parenthood)
CNN (political commentary)
On the Issues (Chaffetz) & On the Issues (McCarthy)


Unknown said...
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Jessica Yeh said...

Although Chaffetz may be one of the first candidates to pose a threat to McCarthy, I think that McCarthy already has too much traction, with his experience as House majority leader and other roles, for Chaffetz to be as large of a contender. Chaffetz does have strong speaking skills, but I think his largest potential advantage is actually his claimed willingness to appeal to more radical conservatives, since this is what McCarthy lacks. As more of a centrist, like Boehner, McCarthy's votes are far more uncertain from conservative House members like those of the freedom caucus, who will likely attempt to block him from the position, as they have tried previously with Boehner.