WASHINGTON — Rep. Justin Amash has a message for the masterminds of his leadership's recent fascination with the use of Twitter hashtags: forget the marketing games and get back to the substance.
"I occasionally use hashtags, but I think it's kind of 2008," said Republican Rep. Justin Amash, a conservative Republican who has become one of the party's more effective users of Twitter and social media. "It's just a marketing ploy a lot of times, and they hope it takes off," he added. "Some of them do take off, but I don't think it's that frequent that they do."
Within the past month, House Republican leaders have regularly unveiled new hashtags for each new messaging push: "#NoBudgetNoPay," "#RequireAPlan," and, most recently, "#Obamaquester" have all been broadcast by flacks on Twitter and affixed to lecterns at press conferences.
Amash says he's less bothered by the hashtags themselves than by the messages behind them — particularly "#Obamaquester," which aims to blame President Barack Obama for initially proposing the mandatory spending cuts known as the "sequester."
"I think it's a mistake on the part of Republicans to try to pin the sequester on Obama," Amash said. "It's totally disingenuous. The debt ceiling deal in 2011 was agreed to by Republicans and Democrats, and regardless of who came up with the sequester, they all voted for it. So, you can't vote for something and, with a straight face, go blame the other guy for its existence in law."
Although the sequester, which would cut $1.2 trillion in federal spending over the next ten years, was approved as an incentive for Congress to approve more strategic cuts, Amash said lawmakers, including those in his own party, should take responsibility for the plan they approved.
"You voted for it, you signed it, that means you support it," Amash said. "And if you don't support it, then don't vote for it and don't sign it."