FreedomWorks has done it again. One of the most well known, hardest working grassroots organizations in Washington has come up with some great tools in the last couple of years. Freedom Connector, a social networking site launched last year by FreedomWorks, provides users with an easy way to meet like-minded activists in their area and plan events.
The organization has also put together FreePAC, events that bring activists together to hear speakers and gain training to take back home to put to use during an election year or on ballot initiatives. The first FreePAC, held in July, was a resounding success, the second event, which will take place this weekend in Cincinnati, Ohio is also sure to impress.
But FreedomWorks has come up with yet another useful tool, a vote tracker, for activists and concerned voters who are interested in tracking votes in Congress on economic issues, perhaps the most important matter facing the United States.The vote tracker also includes a scorecard so voters can see if their representatives and senators in Washington have the best interests of taxpayers at heart.
Last week, I went to Tampa for the Republican National Convention in Tampa. This was sort of an odd experience for me, being a libertarian and all. Honestly, I had no idea what to expect. I’ve been to conventions and conferences before. The oddest experience was BlogCon in Denver last November, when the local Occupiers showed up to protest us. But the RNC was a much, much larger scale event.
Tropical Storm Isaac: While I understand why Republicans saw fit to scale back events for Monday, the storm really didn’t do much to the Tampa area. It rained some, but it wasn’t near what everyone was expecting. Truth is Republicans could have gotten away with more than gaveling the convention to order. By the time the storm actually hit, everyone was more concerned with what could happen to New Orleans and the rest of Gulf Coast than Tampa.
Grassroots v. the Establishment: Over at FreedomWorks, Dean Clancy has put together a great synopsis of the fight over the new rules implemented, which won’t start until the 2016 process. We went over some of this earlier last week, but at this point many grassroots activists are disenfranchised. Many Ron Paul supporters who attended the RNC as delegates may now be looking for an alternative come November because of the rules changes.
Rule 12 would allow the Republican National Committee to change the rules if 3/4 approve. As Clancy explains, “The new Rule 16 requires that a delegate who attempts to violate his binding pledge to a candidate under state law or state party rules shall be deemed to have resigned and the Secretary of the Convention must record the improper vote as it should have been cast based on state law or party rule.”
A lot of the readers of United Liberty probably have a pretty good idea of what transpired at the GOP convention on Tuesday, or at least have heard about it. For those who haven’t, it all started Friday when the Rules Committee, led by one of my least favorite people, John Sununu, decided to radically change the power structure of the party, in essence, neutering the grassroots. Specifically, it would make the RNC very much a top-heavy organization and give the national party establishment, as well as the party’s nominee, ultimate authority over the delegate process.
So fast-forward to Tuesday when the convention convened to start handling party business. The matter concerning the rule changes was brought before the assembled body and while, according to multiple reports, the nays had it, it was passed. Before we go any further, I’d have to recommend a write-up by Dean Clancy of FreedomWorks. This pretty much gives all the info you need about this power grab. The main points being Rules 12 and 15, respectively, which if changed, would create the aforementioned shift of power.
As Clancy notes, there was a lot of misinformation flying around that helped cause this mess. The main one being that this was just a Ron Paul thing:
Ted Cruz, who was backed by the Club for Growth and FreedomWorks, has won the Republican nomination for United States Senate in Texas, defeating Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in the runoff last night by roughly 12 points:
Ted Cruz, the former solicitor general supported by the Tea Party, defeated long-time Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, R-Texas, in a primary runoff that effectively decides who will serve as the next U.S. Senator from Texas.
The Associated Press called the race for Cruz the first 22 percent of votes counted showed him with 53 percent support, as Roll Call noted, despite Dewhurst loaning himself over $24 million during the primary.
Cruz received strong support from Tea Party figures such as Sarah Palin and Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., whose Senate Conservatives Fund spent $1.3 million on behalf of Cruz and raised another $700,000 for his campaign.
“This is another victory for conservatives and it shows that the Tea Party can still defeat the Republican establishment if it wants to,” said Senate Conservatives Fund executive director Matt Hoskins. “This wasn’t a fluke. Ted Cruz was massively outspent in a state of 25 million people and he still won. If conservatives can win a race like this in Texas, they can win anywhere.”
Julie Borowski is the Policy Analyst at FreedomWorks. Recently, Ms. Borowski was a government affairs associate at Americans for Tax Reform. Before that, she was a Koch Fellow intern with the Institute for Humane Studies at the Center for Competitive Politics.
Business Insider recently named her in a list of women leading the “Ron Paul Revolution” and she is famous in right-of-center political circles for her vlogging.
Matt Naugle: Business Insider named you one of the leading women in the Ron Paul liberty movement. How did you become a libertarian?
Julie Borowski: I became a libertarian because of the Internet.
I used to be a huge neoconservative in early high school. Eek, I know.
Growing up in a Republican household, I used to have the childish mentality that I couldn’t criticize Republicans ever. I supported all Republicans because they weren’t “tree hugging sissies” like the Democrats. I believed in every word of the Republican platform without any independent thought. Wow, how dumb.
I was thrilled when George W. Bush became president. But after a few years, I realized that we weren’t better off. Despite all the talk about fiscal responsibility, George W. Bush was a big spender like the Democrats. And I slowly started questioning the wars. What exactly has been accomplished?
Music is a passion of mine. In finding the music that most interests me, I’ve found Derek Webb. His album “Stockholm Syndrome” (one of my favorites) is a must have for anyone who has ever thought that maybe Christians were entirely missing the point on some current political and social issues. One of the songs on “Stockholm Syndrome” is a catchy little tune called “Jena & Jimmy.” It’s about date rape.
Well, kind of. ”Jena & Jimmy” is a political metaphor for the way grassroots movements often get intoxicated with power – power that ultimately brings the demise of the movement.
I often wonder if the Tea Party movement will become like Jena in this song. I certainly hope not, but I get concerned when I see so many Tea Party leaders working to spread their influence rather than working to advance the principles they claim to value.
For example, look at the Republican Senate primary in Nebraska. A candidate (Deb Fischer) won the election last night, largely because she was sporting endorsements from Sarah Palin and Herman Cain. Meanwhile, somebody like Don Stenberg (endorsed by Jim DeMint’s Senate Conservatives Fund, FreedomWorks, and Club for Growth) goes home a loser.
We really can’t fault Fischer for seeking out endorsements from Sarah Palin and Herman Cain; they certainly have sway with voters, and in a tight race, you need every edge you can get. The real issue here is the lack of vetting candidates by the people perceived as leaders in the Tea Party movement.
Why do people like Cain and Palin latch on to candidates who aren’t really great? Is it the attention they get? Is it the way people swoon at the site of them behind a microphone? Are they just looking for a way to extend their political influence?
As you can imagine, there has been a lot of discussion about Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year. And while the budget would, if passed, repeal ObamaCare, it doesn’t replace it. This, along with other aspects of the proposal, has been a sticking point for many conservatives.
On Tuesday, Rep. Ryan said that he didn’t include a replacement for ObamaCare, for which costs have doubled, in his budget because there is no consensus amongst House Republicans as to what their model for health care reform should be.
Given all of the problems with ObamaCare, many of which were laid out in an op-ed at the Wall Street Journal by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), proposing such a comprehensive budget proposal without at least some foundation of replacement proposals is odd. It’s even more odd when the budget was unveiled during the second anniversary of the health care reform law and the week before it’s due to come before the Supreme Court.
However, Rep. Paul Broun, MD (R-GA) has introduced the OPTION Act (H.R. 4224), a patient-centered health care reform replacement. According to Broun’s office, the OPTION Act would repeal and replace ObamaCare with a reform package that would protect the interests of patients:
Our friends at FreedomWorks had hoped yesterday to release the findings of the Tea Party Debt Commission at the Russell Senate Office Building in Washington. Despite being sponsored by Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), Senate Democrats shut down the event, forcing them move to nearby Hillsdale College.
Congress has not passed a budget — one of its most basic functions — in 933 days, including two years of overwhelming Democratic Party majorities in both chambers while also controlling the presidency. FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe and Sen. Lee were understandably frustrated by the actions of Senate Democrats, but were undeterred (as you can see in the video above).
In a statement from FreedomWorks, Kibbe said:
“The Senate hasn’t been able to pass a budget resolution three years running. They have been unable to do their job, and now the Rules Committee is trying to prevent the American people from doing it for them,” said Matt Kibbe, president of FreedomWorks
A broad coalition of conservative and free market groups are urging members of the Senate to support a measure — the “Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act,” better known as the REINS Act — that would require congressional approval of executive-level agency rules that will have a costly economic impact.
“This bill restores legislative control and accountability to the federal regulatory process by providing for meaningful congressional oversight over new regulations agencies impose on the American people,” wrote the coalition of organizations to individual members of the Senate.
“It requires both houses of Congress to approve any proposed ‘major rule’ — that is, any rule likely to affect the economy by $100 million or more — before such a rule goes into effect,” the letter continues. “The REINS Act already passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a sizeable margin. It is now time for the Senate to follow suit.”
Policymakers and bureaucrats tend not to be concerned about the implications of rules created by executive-level agencies, like the EPA, for example. But these regulations create a costly compliance burden for consumers and business, which are already facing tremendous strains on their finances as the economy has limped along after the recession, with next to no accountability and only marginal oversight.
In March, the Competitive Enterprise Institute released its annual regulatory snapshot, Ten Thousand Commandments, which found that compliance cost with these rules and regulation cost $1.8 trillion in 2012, roughly $14,678 per American family. Those compliance costs, the coalition letter notes, “was more than half of all federal outlays ($3.4 trillion)” for that year.
UPDATE: A spokesperson for Sen. McConnell disputed the veracity of the Washington Times’ story in an email this afternoon and reiterated their dispute of the comments made by Glenn Beck, which was noted in the original story. We did call Sen. McConnell’s Washington office yesterday afternoon for comment, but we were unable to get past a voice recording. There was no prompt to leave a voicemail.
The fight to defund ObamaCare has really emphasized the disconnect between the conservative grassroots and the Republican establishment.
With the help of grassroots groups, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA) were able to build momentum to pressure House and Senate Republicans to support a Continuing Resolution (CR) that would have defunded ObamaCare. Of course, Republican leaders were hesitant to embrace the idea, if not outright contemptuous.
In all of this, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) emerged as one of the most prominent Republicans to oppose the strategy. He didn’t take part in Cruz’s quasi-filibuster and was heavily criticized for it.
But McConnell has recently created controversy that could undermine his leadership role as well as his bid for re-election next year.