As the senior member of Minnesota’s Republican congressional delegation, Rep. John Kline has amassed considerable clout over the years. He is generally thought to have a close relationship with House Speaker John Boehner. As the chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, that relationship appears to have paid off.
With the political capital he has accumulated, you might expect that he has even more influence than other members to help Republicans to limit the explosive growth of the federal government. At the very least, he should be interested in talking about ObamaCare. A CNN/ORC poll conducted last week shows that just 35 percent of Americans now support ObamaCare, down from 40 percent in November and 41 percent in October.
Yet if you conduct a Google search for “John Kline ObamaCare,” the top result is a press release from his office complaining that enrollment numbers are too low. There is nothing from his office that takes on the law’s harmful effect on jobs, its defilement of freedom of conscience, or its violations of individual liberty.
Granted, Kline does not necessarily market himself as a philosophical person. It’s likely that his staff is not incredibly philosophical either. It may be that they oppose Democratic policies for the sake of opposing Democrats, not necessarily because they know why the policies in question are bad.
In spite of the lack of material from Kline’s office talking about ObamaCare, you might expect that he is at least a silent opponent. Yet if the evidence is there, it is hard to find.
Since 2012, Republicans have had four significant opportunities to express their opposition to ObamaCare. The first was in July 2012, when 127 congressmen signed a letter to Speaker Boehner calling for ObamaCare to be defunded. Kline refused to sign that letter.
In March 2013, thirty House Republicans again signed a letter stating “there is more we can do in Congress” to oppose ObamaCare. Similarly, eighty House Republicans signed a letter authored by Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) in August that once again called for ObamaCare to be defunded. Kline refused to sign either letter.
Most recently, Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA) gained 151 co-sponsors for the House version of Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) legislation to defund ObamaCare. Rep. Michele Bachmann was the only sponsor from Minnesota; Kline again avoided the spotlight.
From looking at all of this, a person might come to the conclusion that Kline is just low-key and prefers to avoid getting too much attention. Yet his voting record doesn’t bear that out. When it came time to vote on whether to fund ObamaCare on October 16th, Kline joined 198 Democrats and 86 Republicans in voting to keep the program alive. He voted against 144 House Republicans who voted to end funding.
Commenting for Minnesota Public Radio in September, Tea Party Alliance Executive Director Jake Duesenberg complained about Kline’s record on the federal budget: “He can pretend he's a conservative, but I don't know what's conservative about voting to increase the debt ceiling and voting to increase the budget each year."
Unfortunately, Kline has done far worse than simply voting to increase the size of the federal government. He has done nothing to oppose a law that has fundamentally undermined freedom and profoundly hurt millions of Americans.