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Stutzman establishes conservative stance

Nobody can accuse Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-3rd, of moderating his ultraconservative views in the new Congress.

In recent days, Stutzman has voted against $9.7 billion in federal assistance for Hurricane Sandy victims, co-sponsored a bill that would replace the federal income tax with a national sales tax and renewed his call for a ban on federal funding for Planned Parenthood.

He also voted against extending tax reductions for people earning less than $400,000 a year, calling the bill “a tax hike without spending cuts.”

“He’s positioning himself pretty clearly” as a right-wing legislator going into his second full term,” IPFW political science professor Michael Wolf said Tuesday.

Being among “the young guns” mentored by the likes of Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, last year’s GOP nominee for vice president “is not a bad place to be” for Stutzman, Wolf said in a phone interview.

“That’s the group he came in with. That’s the ideological mandate,” Wolf said.

Stutzman and other conservatives elected to the House in 2010 and last year “are emboldened by their election victories and are legitimately trying to come to Washington to stand up for what they think is right,” Nathan Gonzales, political editor of the Rothenberg Political Report, said in an email.

Gonzales said those lawmakers “were elected at a time when the establishment and leadership were held in very low regard, so they don’t really see the need to take orders from people who aren’t that popular and don’t have to answer to constituents in their districts.”

Stutzman did vote Thursday to re-elect John Boehner, R-Ohio, as House speaker. Twelve Republicans cast votes for other people or did not vote at all.

But opposing hurricane relief “is a sign to Boehner, and a demonstration to everybody, that the 2010 class are keeping to their positions,” Wolf said. Sixty-seven Republicans opposed aid, including 23 from the 2010 class.

Stutzman is backing legislation in the 113th Congress that would repeal the federal income tax, abolish the Internal Revenue Service and establish a national sales tax.

He is among 53 co-sponsors, all of them Republicans, of the sales-tax bill introduced last week by Rep. Rob Woodall, R-Ga. Similar proposals have been filed at various times since the 1990s without success, including Woodall’s first attempt in 2011.

“Washington’s tax code is thousands of pages long and favors those who can afford to hire an army of tax attorneys. If we’re serious about fixing our broken tax code, we need to lower tax rates and eliminate unfair advantages,” Stutzman said Tuesday in a statement.

Stutzman also announced this week that he supports new legislation to deny federal funding for groups that provide abortions, in particular Planned Parenthood.

“Forcing taxpayers to fund abortion providers is the furthest thing from ‘choice,’ ” Stutzman said in a written statement, noting that Planned Parenthood received $542 million in federal funds in the 2012 fiscal year.

Two bills were filed last week in the House that would ban federal money for Title X family-planning agencies that provide abortions. Federal law already prevents the use of federal dollars to pay for abortions except in cases of rape, incest or to save a mother’s life.

bfrancisco@jg.net

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