"The wise shall inherit glory,
But shame shall be the legacy of fools."
On Wednesday, Joe Straus released committee assignments. While predictably awful, they were also revealing. For obvious reasons, Gio is a case in point. According to the legacy GOP narrative, Gio got 'plum' assignments on Appropriations and Local and Consent. As the concern trolls at Texas Observer so 'helpfully' explain:
But Giovanni Capriglione, a Republican from the Metroplex who bucked his tea party supporters and loudly supported Straus, came out of his ordeal pretty decently. He sits on Appropriations, Local and Consent Calendars, and Investments and Financial Services—the last committee is sought-after for its members ability to raise money from the many well-heeled outsiders who have business before it.But all is not as it seems.
An individual member makes little difference on any given committee (ESPECIALLY Appropriations). What matters is the chairmanship and the composition of the committee. Looking at Gio's committee assignments in context makes it obvious that he will be irrelevant on his 'plum' committees.
Empower Texans and YCT produce the most reliable conservative policy indexes in Texas; their 2013 rankings illustrate Gio's folly:
[Author's note: With a 94.4 from Empower Texans and a 92 from YCT, Gio had the highest score on either index.]
- Committee Average (with Gio): 40.5 ET; 40.1 YCT.
- Committee Average (without Gio): 38.1 ET; 37.8 YCT.
Local and Consent:
- Committee Average (with Gio): 51.8 ET; 51.7 YCT
- Committee Average (without Gio): 48.2 ET; 48.4 YCT
- Committee Average (without Gio, Jason Isaac, or Drew Springer): 39.7 ET; 34.8 YCT. (*)
Bottom Line: Having a "seat at the table" is irrelevant. Even if you get a "seat," leadership will stack the remaining "seats" at said "table" to make your "seat" meaningless. Anyone who believes otherwise is a sucker.
* -- While we we didn't calculate their respective committee averages, a glance at Jason Isaac's and Drew Springer's assignments reveals a similar phenomenon.
From the great minds think alike department, Tony McDonald likewise observes:
The media were quick to point the finger at those conservatives who had stayed true to their convictions and supported Scott Turner for Speaker. These members were “foolish” and had allegedly been punished with “bad” committee assignments, while members who sold out their principles and constituents were lauded for reaping great “rewards.”-----
To paraphrase a quote from Ronald Reagan, “It isn’t so much that the liberal media is ignorant. It’s just that they know so many things that aren’t so.”
The reality is that the Speaker and his allies engage in a false barter with members. It reminds us of the trade offered by Bart Simpson to his father, Homer: “I’ll trade you this delicious doorstop for that crummy old Danish,” offered Bart. In much the same way, House leadership, the media, and the lobby are all busy telling members that they will really enjoy a spot on a “powerful” committee if they will just trade in their crummy old ability to vote “no.”
A “coveted” spot on House Appropriations is put up as the sweetest plum of all. Many in the media were quick to latch on to the fact that Rep. Giovanni Capriglione, who infamously turned his back on his former conservative ally Scott Turner at a local Tea Party meeting, was given a spot on the “budget writing” committee.
However, as we have pointed out before, members on the Appropriations Committee don’t actually write the budget. That task is reserved for a small handful of appointees to the Legislative Budget Board (LBB) and the bureaucrats they employ. After the budget is released by the LBB, the Appropriations Committee members meet early and often, but only end up tinkering around the edges of the initial document. Then, after both chambers pass the budget, it is sent to another small hand-selected group on the conference committee who largely rewrite the document as they see fit.
Update: Another funny note is that Gio, Isaac, and Springer were the only low-threshold conservatives to get on any of the important committees; the rest were shut out completely.