tea party movement

Press Corps asks about Obama’s plan

The White House Press Secretary had an interesting day yesterday.  He was asked several times about President Obama’s debt-ceiling plan.  Well, there isn’t one, and the folks on the right are chomping at the bit.  I can certainly understand why.  Oh sure, Press Secretary Jay Carney gave hints about the plan, but wouldn’t go into detail.  He said, “We’re showing a lot of leg.”  When pressed for more, he mockingly said, “You need it written down?”

Well, yeah.  It would help.

A couple of years ago, the White House derided the GOP because they didn’t have it written down.  Republicans were supposedly “unserious” because they didn’t have a budget.  So, the Republicans produced a framework.  They “showed a lot of leg”, if you will.  Then Press Secretary Robert Gibbs mocked it because it didn’t have the specifics he felt it should have.  Sort of like how Obama’s plan seems to lack a lot of specifics.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a fan of that “if you don’t have a plan, you shouldn’t be part of the conversation” crap.  I don’t think Obama should just shut up because he doesn’t have a plan all his own.  However, I do believe that the President probably should have a plan of his own to put forth.

Over at Hot Air, Allahpundit proposes that the reason there isn’t a specific plan is because Obama knows that he’ll get hammered with it in the General Election.  I can’t say he’s wrong on that one.

Boehner tells House GOP to get in line

On Tuesday it looked like conservatives in the House Republican Conference were prepared to kill Speaker John Boehner’s proposal to end the budget ceiling stalemate. But it looks like he is building enough support to move it through the House, though it has taken some arm twisting that is most assuredly going to set off grassroots conservatives and the tea party movement:

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said he ordered GOP lawmakers to “get your ass in line” behind his debt proposal during an interview Wednesday on a conservative radio show.

“My goal is to continue to work with all our members so we get them to the point where they say ‘yes,’ ” Boehner said on Laura Ingraham’s radio show.

A large number of conservative Republicans are opposing Boehner’s proposal, arguing it does not go far enough in reducing government spending.

But Boehner said he couldn’t understand why any Republicans would position themselves with Democrats opposing his plan.

“Barack Obama hates it, [Sen.] Harry Reid hates it, [Rep.] Nancy Pelosi hates it,” he said, naming off the Democratic leadership.
Boehner would have a lot of leverage ahead of the Aug. 2 deadline for lifting the debt ceiling if the House approves his bill.

“We’ll see,” Boehner said in response to the veto threat. “In the absence of any other plan, your plan becomes the plan.”

Boehner outlined his strategy to box the president into having “no choice but to sign it into law.” He said a rival proposal from Reid (D-Nev.), the Senate majority leader, did not have the support to pass Congress.

Another Tea Party favorite implodes

Considering that a good number of Tea Party supporters are relatively new to politics, I’ve been more forgiving of some poor judgment the movement has demonstrated.  For example, all but the most hard-core devotees now realize that Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell were disasters.  Yet again and again, Tea Party favorites have shown themselves to be people who lack any seriousness or class.  The list is big and constantly growing - Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann have proven to be embarrassments, and now another favorite, Allen West, has imploded.

In the case of Representative West, this implosion has come in the form of a nasty, childish email sent to fellow House member and DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz.  In this tirade, West goes off on a rant against Wasserman Schultz, calling her “not a Lady” and describing her as “vile” and “despicable”.  And this was in response to a relatively tame speech that Wasserman Schultz gave on the House floor, reiterating nothing more than standard Democrat talking points.  The trigger, it seems, was that West was specifically mentioned.  That apparently caused West to fly off the handle.

The whole display is, quite frankly, disgraceful.  While I’m certainly aware that Congressmen routinely engage in overheated rhetoric, this is a personal attack that ought to be out of bounds for a Member of Congress.  It is the sort of thing that would be roundly condemned by conservatives had it come from a Democrat to, say, Eric Cantor.  And it simply must be condemned across the board if one is to maintain credibility.  We’ve got to hold our Representatives to some standard of maturity and decency.  And this type of response demonstrates a severe lack of judgment and restraint.

McConnell proposes odd “solution” to debt ceiling

Yesterday was one of the most interesting days we’ve seen during this debate between Republicans and the Obama Administration. With Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner warning that Congress only has a few days to increase the debt ceiling, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) offered a peculiar proposal:

McConnell’s proposal would authorize Obama to raise the debt ceiling in three steps, and would not require any corresponding spending cuts.
Under the legislation, Congress could only block Obama’s requests by passing resolutions of disapproval, which would have to be supported by two-thirds of both the Senate and House to overcome an expected presidential veto.

McConnell described his proposal as a “last choice option” to avoid a national default if Congress fails to reach a compromise to raise the debt limit by Aug.
McConnell’s plan would benefit Republicans politically by placing the responsibility for raising the debt limit almost entirely with Obama. It would allow Republicans in both chambers to vote en masse against it without causing a national economic catastrophe.

It could also hurt Senate Democrats by forcing them to support several hikes to the debt ceiling ahead of an election in which they must defend 23 seats, though Republicans expect centrist Democrats would be able to vote against the requests, given the high threshold for overriding a veto.

Club for Growth launches ads in Indiana and Utah

A couple of weeks ago, I noted that both Sen. Dick Lugar (R-IN) and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) could be the targets of primary challenges. The Club for Growth, which has targeted Republicans in Congress in the past and won, had hinted that they may go after Lugar. They were much more open in encouraging Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) to run against Hatch. FreedomWorks, an influential group inside the tea party movement, also announced their “Retire Orrin Hatch” campaign.

The Club for Growth just bought ad time against the two in their home states as they push for them to back fiscally conservative policies, while at the same time noting that they have not great great records on spending.

Here is the ad running in Utah:

And the ad in Indiana:

Budget deal still out of reach

There were rumors over the weekend that House Speaker John Boehner was going to cave on tax hikes in a budget and debt ceiling agreement with the White House with a promise for tax reform down the road. No doubt such a move wouldn’t sit well with conservatives and tea partyers. Boehner faced opposition from inside the Republican caucus and backed down.

While the White House insists that a deal can still be made, talks between Republicans and President Barack Obama didn’t seem to get anywhere yesterday; though they’ll take another crack at it today. It does seem, however, that the administration is rejecting an end-run around the Constitution by raising the debt ceiling without the approval of Congress.

Some have been pointing to past budget deals that included tax hikes and spending cuts as a blueprint for the deal that the White House wants. However, if history is any guide, those deals never seem to be implemented as they are agreed to, a Philip Klein notes:

Is Richard Mourdock the guy to beat Dick Lugar?

Two long-time big government Republican Senators may wind up with tough primary battles on their hands in 2012; Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Sen. Dick Lugar (R-IN). Hatch’s race would be higher profile, given his likely opponent, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), the ousting of Sen. Bob Bennett by Utah Republicans in 2010 and the fact that several conservative groups, including the Club for Growth and FreedomWorks are already making plans to to get involved.

But Lugar could be in as much trouble, since he has mostly thumbed his nose at tea party activists and continued to support positions outside the base of his party (Hatch has shifted to the right); most recently voting against an amendment to prevent taxpayer dollars from being used to bailout foreign countries.

Richard Mourdock, who currently serves as Treasurer of Indiana, got a boost yesterday when Erick Erickson of RedState endorsed him in the primary:

I have, for a number of months, been asked what I thought of Indiana and the race for the Senate there. I have said all along that Richard Lugar’s time has passed and it is time for us to replace him with someone else.

I wanted to wait and see who would stand up to take the challenge of moving that seat to the right. One man has — Richard Mourdock.

Is Rick Perry the tea party favorite?

Given the job creation numbers in Texas and his frequent criticisms of Barack Obama, Texas Gov. Rick Perry seems to be the tea party movement’s favorite presidential candidate; at least at the moment:

The Texas conservative, who’s weighing a late entry into the field of GOP candidates, beats other candidates among members of the Tea Party, the conservative grassroots wing of the Republican Party that’s battling to shape the race for the nomination.

Twenty percent of Tea Party supporters would like to see Perry as the nominee, according to a McClatchy-Marist poll released Wednesday. Perry displaces former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) as the top Tea Party candidate in Marist’s April poll; Huckabee’s since withdrawn from the race.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) is the second choice of the Tea Party, at 17 percent, followed by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) at 16 percent and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) at 12 percent.

The poll suggests that Perry might be well-positioned to seize the mantle of the Tea Party should he choose to enter the race. Bachmann made a play for those voters during her announcement this week, and could enjoy increased support after heavy media coverage this week.

George Allen flip-flops on ethanol

The Senate’s recent vote to repeal wasteful, market distorting ethanol subsidies is going to play a part in some primary campaigns. Take for instance George Allen, who is seeking to take back his old seat in Virginia. Allen supported these subsidies while he served in the Senate. Of course, this isn’t the only issue where Allen fails, but he has been trying gloss over his record by changing his position to ease skeptical minds:

“I have long maintained our biofuel mandates have become unrealistic and drive up the cost of our food and feed,” Allen wrote on his campaign blog. “I commend Senator Coburn’s amendment to end the tax breaks and subsidies for ethanol. Using food and feed for fuel is like busting up your furniture to put in your wood stove to heat your home and wonder why you are sitting on the floor.”

But it turns out Allen hadn’t “long maintained” his view on ethanol. To adapt a phrase from another famous candidate, Allen was against ethanol before he was for it before he was against it.

Early in his one term in the Senate, Allen was an avowed opponent of ethanol. But then he started testing the waters for a possible 2008 presidential bid and, coincidentally or not, his view on the subject evolved.

In 2005, Allen voted in favor of a mandate to increase the use of ethanol in fuels. The switch was widely noted in both the Virginia and Iowa media.

DeMint lays out endorsement pledge

Even though the race for the GOP presidential nomination is underway (though the field may not be entirely set), there hasn’t been many endorsements from members of Congress or high-profile Republicans. Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), who often represents the tea party in Washington, is wants candidates to sign before he’ll endorse:

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) threatened to withhold his support for Republican presidential candidates unless they sign a pledge requiring fiscal reforms in exchange for raising the debt limit.
The pledge, crafted by several conservative groups, would have signatories vow to oppose raising the debt limit unless three conditions are met: 1. Substantial cuts in spending (Cut), 2. Enforceable spending caps (Cap), and 3. Congressional passage of a balanced budget amendment (Balance).

“I’m telling every presidential candidate, if your name isn’t on this list, don’t come see me,” DeMint said.

Support from the South Carolina senator will be especially coveted by White House contenders, both for the boost in a key primary state and because of his status as a conservative icon within the GOP. DeMint challenged House and Senate candidates to sign the pledge, too.

DeMint backed Romney four years ago, but he has since said that he won’t do so again unless the former Massachusetts Governor repudiates RomneyCare; which isn’t likely to happen.

There will be a few candidates willing to sign DeMint’s pledge, perhaps Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain or Ron Paul, but none of them stand much of a chance to win the nomination.

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