Michigan congressman Justin Amash engaged in a successful smackdown of White House Press Secretary Jay Carney in a Tweet war February 13-14. The social media snit got started after Carney tried to make political hay of Amash's criticism of GOP leadership over the budget sequester, and ended with Amash burning the White House's position that the sequester was a looming evil: “@PressSec It's even more disingenuous for Pres O to call sequester 'devastating' when he came up w/it & signed it into law.”
“I occasionally use hashtags, but I think it's kind of 2008,” Rep. Amash told BuzzFeed.com February 13 of the GOP's blame Obama campaign. The Republican Party leadership had created the Twitter hashtag “#Obamaquester” to pin the blame for the spending cuts on President Obama, even though the deal passed the Republican-controlled House and House Speaker John Boehner claimed he got “98 percent” of what he wanted in the deal.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney tweeted a link to the article, followed by tweets quoting Amash from the article:
GOP Rep. Amash says "it's a mistake on the part of Republicans to try to pin the sequester on Obama. It's totally disingenuous."
Amash: "The debt ceiling deal in 2011 was agreed to by Rs & Ds, and regardless of who came up with the sequester, they all voted for it."
Amash: "You can't vote for something and, with a straight face, go blame the other guy for its existence in law."
As Carney continued his exchange with Amash on Twitter, the White House Press Secretary noted that “@repjustinamash Sir - whole point of sequester, as u know, was to avoid it, BECAUSE it's devastating. Need to pass balanced buy-down.” An astounded Amash replied:
@PressSec Is that a serious tweet? You don't sign a bill unless you're OKAY w/the consequences. It's Being President 101.
Amash has used social media to lampoon big government as effectively as any other member of Congress. Amash tweeted the following “decoder ring” in advance of Obama's February 12 State of the Union address:
“we"="government"; "ask"="order"; "invest"="borrow & spend more"; "shared prosperity"="central planning" #SOTUDecoderRing
Amash, who didn't vote for the sequester deal because overall it would add $2 trillion to the national debt, nevertheless said that the sequester should take place. It is, Amash tweeted, “Not 'devastating' to make minor reductions to spending growth. Why is each party blaming other for budget restraint?” Amash added of the White House fearmongering on the sequester, which would not cut, but would only slow the rate of growth of government: “We don't persuade public by tricking them. We should be honest abt how we got here & pt out sequester isn't 'devastating.'”
Amash has been the most transparent member of Congress in his two terms, posting an explanation for every vote he takes on his Facebook page. He has also taken heat from both Democrats and his own party leaders for using technology to distribute his plain-spoken, libertarian-leaning ideals. Amash — whom many libertarians consider the successor to former Texas Congressman Ron Paul in the House of Representatives — was booted from the House Budget Committee by the GOP leadership in January because he was not perceived as being a team player with the GOP leadership.
The two-term Republican clearly has not held back in his criticism of his own party leadership. He tweeted to Carney: “@PressSec Both sides are being disingenuous here. If Pres Obama thought it was 'devastating,' he shouldn't have signed it. Period.”
And Amash is apparently okay with that criticism. He noted, “To the hopeless partisans on both sides, there are few things more offensive than the truth.”
Photo of Rep. Justin Amash: AP Images