tea party movement
With the GOP now taking control of the House, but showing signs that they may be backing down from promises made on the campaign trail, tea party groups are warning Republicans that they are watching them:
As Republicans celebrated their new power in Washington yesterday, two prominent Tea Party activists walked the halls of Capitol Hill carrying a message: we’re keeping an eye on you.
Although many freshman lawmakers ran on a Tea Party platform — and enjoyed Tea Party support — Jenny Beth Martin and Mark Meckler, the co-founders of the national group, Tea Party Patriots, aren’t taking anything for granted.
They wasted no time expressing their displeasure with Republican leaders who have been signaling that they would not be able to follow through on their pledge to cut $100 billion from the federal budget this year. They were also passing along the sentiment that the vast majority of their members across the country oppose raising the debt ceiling and support spending cuts.
“The piggy bank is empty,” Meckler told ABC News yesterday, and while he and Martin agreed that the government should not default on its loans, he said following through on the promise to significantly trim the budget was “about political will.”
For their part, GOP leaders pushed back on the suggestion that they were breaking a promise on that score.
The Obama Administration and Democrats are presenting Republicans with their first challenge on reducing the size and scope of government with a vote expected to occur in the first half of the year to raise the debt ceiling to almost $14.3 trillion. Democrats and some Republicans are warning of dire economic consequences if the increase isn’t passed.
Over at the Daily Caller, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a former head of the Congressional Budget Office, takes issue with the view presented by the Obama Administration:
To me, at least, leadership means you don’t “talk down” the economy and don’t demagogue important economic issues. As director of economic policy for the McCain 2008 campaign, I took great pains to ensure that the senator was not perceived as predicting (or worse, advocating) doom for the U.S. economy. When running for president one should act and speak like someone who would be president.
I’ve never been sure that the Obama team understood or agreed with this view. As a candidate and even as president, Barack Obama has been uneven in his handling of economic distress. At times he has appeared presidential, but at others seemed willing to predict the worst “unless” his policies were adopted (think back to the debate over the stimulus bill). This has the same feel. Goolsbee’s quote — “The impact on the economy would be catastrophic. I mean, that would be a worse financial economic crisis than anything we saw in 2008.” — has no business being uttered by a prominent administration official.
The results of the mid-term election became a reality for Democrats yesterday as Republicans took control of the House of Representatives, and more than 90 new members were seated.
John Boehner (R-OH) defeated Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) in the election for Speaker. In fact, 19 members of her own caucus voted for someone else (11 voted for Heath Shuler), voted present or did not vote at all; the most members of a caucus to vote against their party’s nominee since 1923.
The power exchange wasn’t limited to the Congress, as the transition also took place on Twitter. The Daily Caller notes:
Late Tuesday evening, hours before the Wednesday kick-off of the 112th Congress, Rep. Pelosi dutifully ceded the use of @SpeakerPelosi in exchange for @NancyPelosi. Meanwhile, @JohnBoehner remains to be actively used by the entering Speaker (he also used @GOPLeader, but that account has been handed over to Majority Leader-elect Eric Cantor), while @SpeakerBoehner became the Ohio congressman’s active account Wednesday morning.
Below is a collection of the dozen or more links that I didn’t get around to writing about, but still wanted to post for readers to take a look at. The stories typically range from news about prominent figures in the liberty movement, national politics, the nanny state, foreign policy and free markets.
It looks like the honeymoon between tea partyers and Republicans is over as some cracks are starting to show in a relationship that led to a takeover of the House of Representatives and gains in the Senate:
Just a month ago, Tea Party leaders were celebrating their movement’s victories in the midterm elections. But as Congress wrapped up an unusually productive lame-duck session last month, those same Tea Party leaders were lamenting that Washington behaved as if it barely noticed that American voters had repudiated the political establishment.
In their final days controlling the House, Democrats succeeded in passing legislation that Tea Party leaders opposed, including a bill to cover the cost of medical care for rescue workers at the site of the World Trade Center attacks, an arms-control treaty with Russia, a food safety bill and a repeal of the ban on gay men and lesbians serving openly in the military.
“Do I think that they’ve recognized what happened on Election Day? I would say decisively no,” said Mark Meckler, a co-founder of Tea Party Patriots, which sent its members an alert last month urging them to call their representatives to urge them to “stop now and go home!!”
The proposal to extend the Bush-era tax rates will proceed.
The Senate reached the 60 votes needed to move forward with President Obama’s $858 billion plan to extend the current income tax rates Monday afternoon. It ultimately passed 83-15.
The measure would extend the Bush-era tax rates for two years in return for a 13-month extension of federal unemployment benefits. The package also will set the estate tax rate at 35 percent for assets beyond $5 million.
Five Republicans, nine Democrats and one independent have cast dissenting votes, including Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders, who spent more than eight hours on the Senate floor last Friday railing against the deal. Nevada Sen. John Ensign, who joined Republicans Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn, South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint, Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions and Sen. George Voinovich of Ohio to vote against cloture, has said he opposes the measure because the unemployment benefits in the package are not paid for.
A slate of liberal Democrats who have staunchly supported a tax increase for the wealthy also supported the vote to move toward final passage. New York Sen. Charles Schumer, Michigan Sen. Deborah Stabenow and Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, all fierce opponents of the Bush tax rates, cast a “yea” vote.
Just a few weeks after voting to extend a self-imposed moratorium on earmarks, some so-called conservatives are looking for away around the ban, fretting that their pet projects will now be put at risk:
[S]ome Republicans are discussing exemptions to the earmark ban, allowing transportation, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and water projects. While transportation earmarks are probably the most notorious — think “Bridge to Nowhere” — there is talk about tweaking the very definition of “earmark.”
“It’s like what beauty is,” said Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.). “Everyone knows what a bridge to nowhere is, or an airport that lands no airplanes, or a statue to you — everyone knows that’s bad. It’s easy to say what an earmark isn’t, rather than what an earmark is.”
The issue has popped up most frequently at the Conservative Opportunity Society, the caucus founded by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) in the early 1980s. During their Wednesday morning meeting last week, caucus members had a long discussion about how the Republican Party could redefine “member-directed spending,” as earmarks are formally called on the Hill.
Conservatives like Roe, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann and Iowa Rep. Steve King are among those trying to figure out a longer-term, sustainable way to get money back to projects in their districts.
“This isn’t trying to be too cute by half of what is an earmark and what isn’t,” Bachmann told POLITICO on Wednesday. “But we have to address the issue of how are we going to fund transportation projects across the country?”
Incoming House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) took to Twitter to put out the obvious hypocrisy of his colleagues:
As we’ve noted, President Barack Obama has made a deal with Republicans that would prevent a tax hike on all Americans, while at the same time getting extension of unemployment benefits and some other tax breaks his administration has pushed for (you can read the Obama Administration’s talking points here).
Obama defended his side of the deal yesterday in an afternoon press conference at the White House, though taking jabs at Republicans in the process:
With fellow Democrats balking, President Barack Obama declared Tuesday that a compromise with Republicans on tax cuts was necessary to help the economy and protect recession-weary Americans. He passionately defended his record against Democrats who complain he’s breaking campaign promises.
“Take a tally. Look at what I promised during the campaign. There’s not a single thing that I haven’t done or tried to do,” the president said.
He staunchly defended his decision to deal with the GOP in order to extend about-to-expire tax cuts for all Americans.
“There are some who would have preferred a protracted political fight,” the president said at a White House news conference a day after the compromise was announced. “And I understand the desire for a fight. I’m sympathetic to that.”
He promised a renewed fight during 2012 when the tax cuts would expire again, making the point that he still opposes the Republican position that high-income earners should get the extension, too. The agreement includes individuals making $200,000 or more a year and families making $250,000 or more.
Leftists all over the place are looking at the Koch Brothers and claiming that their efforts are creating a vast right wing conspiracy that is undermining the United States of America. They look at the many groups that the brothers have donated to and use the “follow the money” mantra to try and justify what they’re seeing as more than it really is. And it’s idiotic.
First, there’s a problem with following the money. In American politics, it’s not unusual for people to use money to try an enact change. Folks on both sides do it. They donate to causes and groups that they believe in, with the hope that the money will help that group do what the donor feels is a good thing. For example, George Soros has donated millions to various progressive groups for just this reason.
In the case of the Koch brothers, it’s the same thing. However, leftists are claiming that their backing of Tea Party groups is proof of astroturf (it’s not). They see the Koch brothers backing of any group and automatically consider that group as beholden to the Koch brothers. Apparently, they see bogeymen behind every blade of grass.
Occam’s Razor is that the simplest explanation is usually the correct one. The simplest explanation is that the Koch brothers simply donate to groups that already share their beliefs, rather than trying to buy groups and push their beliefs down their throats. If that was the case, wouldn’t MoveOn.org be a better choice than the Reason Foundation?
The problem with trying to follow the money is that you never really get to the motivation of why money is changing hands. Oil companies donate to politicians from Texas, and the people scream that these politicians are bought and paid for. It never dawns on them that the politician got the money because he was already pro-Big Oil.
For the last few days I’ve had a political debate with a very liberal friend. The subject was the TEA Party movement, which he says is driven by racial hatred and greed. He asserts that the TEA Party is driven by racist white people enraged that their tax dollars are used to provide welfare benefits to blacks and Hispanics. I’ve asked him repeatedly to explain, then, why it is nearly impossible to find signs at TEA Party rallies that mention race at all (this is often countered with the absurd claim that the racism is “subtle” or “hidden,” and that opposition to the policies of President Obama, a black man, are de facto proof of racism).
After numerous exchanges on the subject, with me offering concrete proof debunking his claims, or questions which he is unable to answer, he finally admitted that he has no way to prove his claims but he knows them to be true anyway, and nothing I can say will change his mind one iota.
And liberals make fun of religious people that believe in creationism or have faith in the healing power of prayer? That is truly ironic.
The simple fact is that, while liberals often make fun of people who “cling to their guns or religion,” modern liberalism is in and of itself a religion. Its members have a set of beliefs which must be accepted on faith, and which are wholly unverifiable on the basis of fact and reason. Liberalism has its articles of faith, its prophets and its holy scripture. It shuns unbelievers and excommunicates heretics. And above all, it has an unshakeable belief in its god, the State.
In truth, modern liberals are more appropriately described as statists (those that belief that the state is and should be the Supreme Arbiter of the ordering of society, and that the concerns of the individual should always be subservient and subordinate to the will of the state). Modern liberalism is, in fact, entirely antithetical to the classical liberalism of the Founding Fathers.