Either way, it may be a difficult balancing act. Upton, for example, faced a primary challenge from the right in 2010, defeating a tea party candidate 57 percent to 43 percent. That, and a desire to obtain the Energy and Commerce gavel, forced the centrist-minded Upton to move rightward. In 2008, his district also broke 54 percent to 46 percent for Obama. More recently, Upton faced a contentious crowd at a town hall in August where constituents yelled “Bring back jobs!” as the veteran lawmaker calmly tried to continue his conversation on the economy.
Camp, who heads the Ways and Means Committee, has been getting attention back home this week as House GOP leadership has sought to take $1.5 billion from the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing loan program, which aims to help car manufacturers retool plants to build more energy-efficient vehicles. GOP leaders have proposed using funding for ATVM to instead pay for disaster relief funding. According to the Detroit Free Press, Michigan-based Chrysler Group applied for $3.5 billion through the loan program. The proposed cuts would eliminate about half of the program’s remaining funds.
Neither Upton nor Camp would tip their hand as to how they might square their responsibilities to both the House GOP Conference and their ailing state.
“This committee was established with a clear goal — that goal is reducing the deficit, which will create some economic certainty and help spur the job creation we need and get the country back on track,” Upton said in a statement provided to Roll Call. “Michigan has faced 32 straight months with unemployment in double digits, and the current rate is about 11 percent — we can’t afford to lose any more jobs because of unsustainable debt or the threat of higher taxes and economic uncertainty that keeps job creators on the sidelines.”
Camp’s office was equally vague. “Given more than two years of double-digit unemployment in Michigan, it comes as no surprise that Camp has said that he will view the final product of the joint committee through the prism of job creation and ask, ‘Will these recommendations help or hurt job creation now and in the future?’” a Camp spokesman said.
Bill Ballenger of the political newsletter Inside Michigan Politics observed, “I don’t see how they come out of this as heroes unless the super committee pulls a rabbit out of a hat and comes up with some way to figure out how these cuts can be made in a way they get a lot of credit for.”
“I think the opposite is more likely, where you might hear moans and groans from tea party types ... who are already suspicious,” he added.
Ballenger noted both men got positive press for being named to the panel when the announcements were made last month. And other political observers suggest that by serving on the panel, the two could become important 2012 election surrogates for the party on economic messages in a bellwether state that votes more by its pocketbook than by its ideology.
These same sources noted that Democrats would be smart to try to find specific jobs provisions that could present stark choices for super committee Republicans, such as drawing lines specifically between jobs and the auto industry.
Lois Lerner, director of exempt organizations for the IRS, arrives for a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on the investigation of the IRS' targeting of political groups. Lerner invoked her Fifth Amendment right to not testify and caused a protest from some committee members when she offered an opening statement and engaged in dialogue with members before invoking the right.
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