2013-04-13 / Columnists

Michigan Politics

Camp, Rogers Have Major Roles on Major Issues
By George Weeks

Two veteran Michigan congressmen in the GOP-ruled House have major roles on top front-burner financial and security issues currently facing the nation.

Eleven-term Representative Dave Camp (R-Midland), chairman of the powerful tax-writing Ways and Means Committee, has conducted more than 20 hearings on tax reform; last week announced a series of hearings in quest of bipartisan efforts to protect and preserve Medicare and Social Security; and set a hearing with Treasury Jacob J. Lew on April 11—the day after President Barack Obama unveils his fiscal 2014 budget.

Six-term Representative Mike Rogers (R-Brighton), chairman of the Intelligence Committee, is one of Washington’s most widely quoted authorities on such issues as North Korea’s escalating saber rattling, the deadly U.S. use of drones, the deaths of American diplomats in Libya, China’s cyber espionage, and Syria’s reported use of chemical weapons.

Camp, who represents much of the northern Lower Peninsula, is, according to a statement from his office last week, “gaining momentum” working “on a comprehensive tax reform bill that makes the code simpler and fairer in order to strengthen the economy, create more jobs, and better take-home pay for American workers.”

Wall Street Journal columnist Kimberley Strassel, noting Camp’s comments on the issue, said “Republicans are not only doing a tax rewrite this year, but making it their signature policy issue.”

The 2012 Almanac of American Politics said of Camp: “His low-key, consensus-building style stands in sharp contrast to that of several recent Ways and Means chairmen, as well as more openly partisan senior Republicans.”

Rogers, a former FBI agent and majority floor leader in the state Senate, has for months been a frequent guest on national TV shows. That’s no surprise. He’s a forceful speaker on breaking news on security issues.

On CNN, he said North Koreans “certainly have a ballistic missile that can reach U.S. shores”—without specifying whether he meant the West Coast, Hawaii, or Alaska. He said: “You have a 28-year-old who is trying to prove himself to the military, and the military is eager to have a saber rattling for their own-self-interest, and the combination of that is very, very deadly.”

As reported in a March National Journal cover story on “What hath America wrought?” with drones to target al-Qaida or other combatants, Rogers expressed confidence that the defense and intelligence communities have an adequate evidentiary bar for targeting. He said:

“They’re not drawing names out of a hat here. It is very specific intel-gathering and other things that would lead somebody to be subject for an engagement by the United States government.”

Leader of the pack?

It’s far too early for informed speculation on who will be the nominees to replace Senator Carl Levin, who will not seek reelection next year. Furthermore, the announcement derby by candidates has yet to start.

But it’s interesting that Rogers, possibly in some part because of his media exposure, had a substantial lead for the GOP nomination in a poll of 600 likely Republican voters released last week.

Market Resource Group said that in its March 17-23 poll Rogers received 34% of the vote, followed by 15% for U.S. Representative Justin Amash of Grand Rapids and 14% for ex- Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land of Grandville. State Senator Roger Kahn of Saginaw and former GOP state chairman Saul Anuzis of Lansing each had 1%.

MRG President Tom Shields made no reference to Rogers’ high media visibility but said he “has a strong base of support in his home area among mid- Michigan and Oakland County voters. Our poll shows Amash and Land splitting up the west Michigan vote. If only one of them runs, the primary would probably be a dead heat.”

In the March 25 Inside Michigan Politics newsletter on a IMP/MRG poll question on a possible general election Senate match-up, two-term U.S. Representative Gary Peters (D-Bloomfield Township) outpolled Rogers, 39% to 34%.

George Weeks, a member of the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame, for 22 years was the political columnist for The Detroit News and previously with UPI as Lansing bureau chief and foreign editor in Washington. His weekly Michigan Politics column is syndicated by Superior Features.

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