Who is David Brat? A Cantor killing Tea Party candidate if there ever was one
By now we all know House Majority Leader, Eric Cantor, lost the primary in Virginia’s 7th District Tuesday night to David Brat (R). The lopsided victory was a stunner for Republicans all over the country and Democrats a like.
Cantor first won the seat in 2000 and his loss was a crushing end to an otherwise steady trajectory that Cantor expected would lead him to the speaker-ship. This race was never supposed to be close, even though Cantor flooded the district with nearly $5 million in advertising and direct mail (a near fifty to one margin over Brat). Cantor became a distant figure to many of his Virginia constituents, seen only on Sunday talk shows and in the pages of national newspapers.
Brat had the support of conservatives such as radio talk show host Laura Ingraham, who was chastising tea party groups for not doing more to help him as well as other pundits. The leaders of the Tea Party are considering this a true grassroots effort.
So who is David Brat?
A libertarian economist—but not a Randian. Per Betsy Woodruff’s January profile in National Review: He chairs the department of economics and business at Randolph-Macon College and heads its BB&T Moral Foundations of Capitalism program. The funding for the program came from John Allison, the former CEO of BB&T (a financial-services company) who now heads the Cato Institute. The two share an affinity for Ayn Rand: Allison is a major supporter of the Ayn Rand Institute, and Brat co-authored a paper titled “An Analysis of the Moral Foundations in Ayn Rand.” Brat says that while he isn’t a Randian, he has been influenced by Atlas Shrugged and appreciates Rand’s case for human freedom and free markets.
Brat didn’t see his win coming at all and could not answer policy questions yesterday morning when interviewed by Chuck Todd, but apparently, he had a big problem with Eric Cantor’s willingness to go along with a GOP version of the DREAM Act. Brat is staunchly anti-immigration and is widely believed to be the reason he won.
Despite his background in economics, Brat wasn’t quite ready to answer whether he supported a federal minimum wage. It currently stands at $7.25 an hour, but Democrats have been pushing to raise it to $10.10. From his exchange with Todd:
Chuck Todd: Where are you on the minimum wage? Do you believe in it, and would you raise it?
David Brat: Minimum wage, no, I’m a free market guy. Our labor markets right now are already distorted from too many regulations. I think CATO estimates there’s $2 trillion of regulatory problems and then throw Obamacare on top of that, the work hours is 30 hours a week. You can only hire 50 people. There’s just distortion after distortion after distortion and we wonder why our labor markets are broken.
Todd: So should there be a minimum wage in your opinion?
Brat: Say it again.
Todd: Should there be a minimum wage in your opinion?
Brat: I don’t have a well-crafted response on that one. All I know is if you take the long-run graph over 200 years of the wage rate, it cannot differ from your nation’s productivity. Right? So you can’t make up wage rates. Right? I would love for everyone in sub-Saharan Africa, for example — children of God — to make $100 an hour. I would love to just assert that that would be the case. But you can’t assert that unless you raise their productivity, and then the wage follows.
Todd: Sounds like you’re making a case against a federally mandated minimum wage.
Brat: I’m just making the case I just made that you can’t artificially make up wage rates, they have to be related to productivity. End of Interview.
David Brat doesn’t seem to realize that if the minimum wage was related to productivity, the minimum wage would be almost triple what it is today.
Mr. Brat, like all Tea Party members these days is also very religious. According to Think Progress, Brat is a graduate of Hope College, a Christian school in Michigan, and Princeton Theological Seminary, a Presbyterian Church U.S.A. seminary in New Jersey (not to be confused with Princeton University.)
According to an essay Brat wrote back in 2011, he says “I think the main point is that we need to synthesize Christianity and capitalism.” In other words, he wants to see them blended together. Free market capitalism and Christianity working together for the benefit of the poor. An idea even the pope wouldn’t even fall for. Brat went on to suggest that if this “merger” should fail, we could easily see the rise of another Hitler…
In November, David Brat will face Democratic challenger Jack Trammell who is relieved today that he isn’t going to be facing Cantor in November. After Cantor’s shocking defeat in his primary Tuesday against the political novice, Trammell’s candidacy has a whole new meaning. Democrats have a bit more hope in this Republican district, now that the upstart Democrat is up against an upstart Republican -both of whom are professors at the same college.