Current Office:US Representative, 3rd District
Prior to the November 2010 election, Justin Amash responded to these questions posed by 24 Hour News 8 political reporter Rick Albin.
What can you do in Washington to put Michigan back to work?:
We must reduce taxes and unnecessary regulations that stifle innovation and increase unemployment. Low taxes across the board and a simplified regulatory system are the best ways to promote growth. Many politicians promise to direct resources to specific economic sectors. We have tried this approach without success. It is based on faulty economic reasoning. The government cannot “create” jobs—it can only use taxpayers' money to keep people temporarily busy on projects that cannot find private funding. Targeted government spending actually delays the acquisition of new job skills and prolongs unemployment. Moreover, increased government spending drives up interest rates and requires more taxes, further increasing unemployment. The Constitution does not permit the federal government to direct the economy. Our country's prosperity was built on economic freedom. Markets are not perfect, but they allow individuals to pursue their priorities as they see best, without seeking permission or favors from anyone in government. Most people and small businesses do not have lobbyists fighting to win special tax breaks or subsidies for them. They end up bearing the brunt of an unfair system that transfers their money to the connected few.
If elected, what is your top priority in your first 100 days in office?:
Success as a legislator or congressperson is not possible if you do not have the respect of colleagues on both sides of the aisle. Earning that trust takes time, and I will make it a priority to develop strong relationships with both Republicans and Democrats by listening to their views and discussing my principles. I will always stand up for limited government, free markets, and individual liberty.
How would you deal with spending in Washington? Reduce spending or raise taxes?:
The federal government must reassess its responsibilities and act within the confines of the Constitution. Unconstitutional acts (e.g., government-run health care) must be defunded and repealed. I will oppose "stimulus" plans, bailouts, and budgets that increase spending. Congress must stop confiscating resources from hardworking Americans to hand out favors to connected interests and manipulate the economy. It was misguided federal policy--intended to encourage more home ownership--that fueled speculation in the housing markets and encouraged excessive risk taking in the financial markets during the past few years. The government should also take all possible steps to ensure that its operations run as smoothly and efficiently as possible. Government should focus on its constitutional duties, including defending our borders and our homeland and administering an effective federal court system. We must identify and eliminate duplicative and unnecessary programs.
What could you do to reduce the partisan rancor in the federal government?:
There should be full and open debate in any legislative body to ensure all sides of the issues are discussed. Partisanship has a lot to do with attitude. Although you disagree, you don't have to be difficult or inflexible. Most of the rhetoric and rancor coming from Republicans and Democrats stems from legislators having little knowledge of the issues at hand, which encourages them to fall back on empty talking points. To reduce the negativity and name calling, the process must be changed. Most of all, our congresspersons must be more transparent and accountable to the people they represent. Representatives too easily hide behind rhetoric that deceives voters, while their voting records do little to back up their claims. In the state House, my own policy of posting each of my votes with explanations online has led some of my colleagues to do the same. I will continue posting my votes as a member of Congress, but Congress should also take it upon itself to develop an online source of voting information for each elected official. In the state House, I have worked effectively with both my Republican and Democratic colleagues by remaining consistent in my principles, while still being willing to compromise to move government in the right direction. I can show my colleagues firsthand that you don't have to agree on everything--or most things--to forge strong, respectful relationships with members of either party. Our representatives must be willing and able to discuss the issues openly and honestly to find common ground (without abandoning principles) and work toward a mutually acceptable compromise. To facilitate open, thorough discussion of bills, members of Congress must come together to demand time to read each bill before voting.
What special skills or qualities do you have that make you uniquely qualified to serve in congress?:
As a state representative, I have set new standards for transparency and accountability. By leveraging the power of the Internet and social media, I have worked to redefine an elected official’s duty to interact openly and honestly with his or her constituents. I was one of the first Michigan legislators to make staff names and salaries, office expenses, and my own legislative and health benefits publicly available on my legislative website. I am the only legislator in Michigan--and perhaps the country--to post each and every vote I take online in real-time. I include an explanation of the bill(s) I just voted on, my reasoning for voting the way I did, and provide an opportunity for interactive discussion. As of this writing, more than 7,500 people are following my votes on Facebook and letting me know what they think. I invite you to join the discussion at www.facebook.com/justinamash. I never support a bill without a thorough understanding of its content and implications for Michigan residents. When legislators aren't given enough time to read or understand a bill before voting, I believe the default vote must be "no." Although it seems like this should be the norm in any voting body, the American people have learned the hard way that reading the bill just isn't a requirement in Congress. My principled, consistent voting record proves that I'm not afraid to vote "no," even when it's unpopular or goes against the wishes of my party. Sticking to your principles does not mean you have to be disagreeable or uncompromising. It is because I stick to my principles and can explain and defend my votes that I have earned the trust and respect of both my Republican and Democratic colleagues. I have had more amendments accepted by the Democratic majority in the House than any other Republican. I always work for incremental improvements to our current system, so I'm willing to compromise if the agreement is taking us a step in the direction of limited government, free markets, and individual liberty. I work effectively with legislators from all political perspectives, and, because I am guided by my principles, not my party, I stay away from partisan rhetoric and name calling.
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Cascade Charter Township, Michigan
J.D., University of Michigan Law School; A.B., magna cum laude, Economics, University of Michigan; Valedictorian, Grand Rapids Christian High School.
Before my election to the Michigan House of Representatives in 2008, I worked as a business lawyer at Varnum LLP. I handled mergers and acquisitions, small business matters, and banking. I continue to work in management at Michigan Industrial Tools, a family-owned tool supply and distribution business.
Current state representative, District 72, elected in 2008
Member, State Bar of Michigan, Grand Rapids Bar Association, Right to Life of Michigan, National Rifle Association, The Economic Club of Grand Rapids, Kent County Republican Executive Committee, Alumni Association of the University of Michigan, American Legislative Exchange Council Civil Justice Task Force; commissioner, Uniform Law Commission; House Republican liaison, State Bar of Michigan Task Force on the Future of Michigan’s Courts; chair, Liberty Caucus (Michigan House of Representatives); elected Republican precinct delegate, 2008; elected to the Michigan House of Representatives, 2008.
Justin Amash is listed as a sponsor or cosponsor of these bills.
|11/20/2013||New Fair Deal Banking and Housing Stability Act of 2013|
|6/5/2013||Export-Import Bank Termination Act|
|5/16/2013||Telephone Records Protection Act|
|3/15/2013||Commemorative Coins Reform Act of 2013|
|2/15/2013||Readable Legislation Act of 2013|
|9/21/2012||Commemorative Coins Reform Act of 2012|
|3/27/2012||Export-Import Bank Termination Act of 2012|
|3/15/2011||Constitutional Alternative to the War Powers Afghanistan Withdrawal Resolution|
Bill data provided by Sunlight Labs
Committee data provided by Sunlight Labs