Yesterday, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) criticized Senator-elect Rand Paul (R-KY) for his calls to cut defense spending:
McCain, speaking Monday at an event sponsored by the Foreign Policy Initiative in Washington, D.C., was asked whether he thought that support for the war on terrorism might be eroding within the GOP.
“I worry about it, and I worry a lot,” McCain said. “Because throughout the history of the Republican Party in modern times there’s two wings: the isolationist wing manifested before World War II and at other times; and the internationalist side.
“So I think there are going to be some tensions within our party,” he said.
McCain singled out incoming Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), son of Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), who is known for his non-interventionist stance on foreign policy. The younger Paul, McCain said, has already talked about cuts to defense spending, causing the senior Republican to worry.
“I don’t know the incoming Senator Rand Paul – I respect him and admire his victory – but already he has talked about withdrawals, cuts in defense, etcetera, and a number of others are” as well, said McCain.
The Arizona senator also said he had “no doubt” about the sincerity of Paul and others to fight for spending cuts, saying he worried that such an aggressive stance could be justified on protectionist and isolationist grounds.
While I am as hardcore an advocate for free trade as there is, cuts to defense spending are not isolationist, and they are certainly not protectionist. Like McCain, I do worry that the populist streak in among conservatives and tea partyers could be taken as anti-trade. But his concerns about Rand Paul are unfounded.
In what is a win for the tea party movement and fiscal conservatives, Senate Republicans agreed to a two year moratorium on earmarks yesterday:
Senate Republicans voted Tuesday to abandon their use of earmarks in the new Congress, a move setting up an unusual alliance with the White House and exerting pressure on reluctant Democratic lawmakers to follow suit.
The vote by Senate Republican represented an internal party decision. But along with a similar step expected today by counterparts in the House, it provided an early example of the influence of the tea party and the rising conservative movement that fueled the mid-term electoral wave.
I’m unsure of the tally on this, our last count showed 33 members of the Republican caucus in favor of the moratorium and five opposed.
A couple of Senate Democrats, Mark Udall of Colorado and Claire McCaskill of Missouri, are will join Republican efforts to bring a vote on banning the practice to the floor of the chamber as early as today.
McCaskill has been critical of earmarking for some time, and yesterday she joined Pat Toomey, the Senator-elect from Pennsylvania, in calling for an end to earmarks.
Several tea party organizations and GOProud are encouraging the GOP to stay away from social issues in the upcoming Congress:
In a letter to be released Monday, the group GOProud and leaders from groups like the Tea Party Patriots and the New American Patriots, will urge Republicans in the House and Senate to keep their focus on shrinking the government.
“On behalf of limited-government conservatives everywhere, we write to urge you and your colleagues in Washington to put forward a legislative agenda in the next Congress that reflects the principles of the Tea Party movement,” they write to presumptive House Speaker John Boehner and Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell in an advance copy provided to POLITICO. “This election was not a mandate for the Republican Party, nor was it a mandate to act on any social issue.”
The letter’s signatories range from GOProud’s co-founder and Chairman Christopher Barron — a member of a group encouraging Dick Cheney to run for president — to Tea Party leaders with no particular interest in the gay rights movement.
As of Sunday evening, the letter had 17 signatories. They include tea party organizers, conservative activists and media personalities from across the country, including radio host Tammy Bruce, bloggers Bruce Carroll, Dan Blatt and Doug Welch, and various local coordinators for the Tea Party Patriots and other tea party groups.
“When they were out in the Boston Harbor, they weren’t arguing about who was gay or who was having an abortion,” said Ralph King, a letter signatory who is a Tea Party Patriots national leadership council member, as well as an Ohio co-coordinator.
Supporters of Sen. Jim DeMint’s proposal to impose an earmark moratorium on Senate Republicans (what he calls a test on whether or not the GOP got the message that voters sent two weeks ago) received welcome news yesterday as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) reversed course, deciding to back the plan:
I have seen a lot of elections in my life, but I have never seen an election like the one we had earlier this month. The 2010 midterm election was a “change” election the likes of which I have never seen, and the change that people want, above all, is right here in Washington.
Most Americans are deeply unhappy with their government, more so than at any other time in decades. And after the way lawmakers have done business up here over the last couple of years, it’s easy to see why. But it’s not enough to point out the faults of the party in power. Americans want change, not mere criticism. And that means that all of us in Washington need to get serious about changing the way we do business, even on things we have defended in the past, perhaps for good reason.
If the voters express themselves clearly and unequivocally on an issue, it’s not enough to persist in doing the opposite on the grounds that “that’s the way we’ve always done it.” That’s what elections are all about, after all. And if this election has shown us anything, it’s that Americans know the difference between talking about change, and actually delivering on it.
Rand Paul recently talked with Wolf Blitzer about party loyal, earmarks and the tea party movement with Wolf Blitzer.
Here is the video:
Scroll down to see the list of members support or opposing the Senate GOP moratorium on earmarks beginning in 2011.
Senate Republicans are feeling the pressure from the tea party movement on imposing a moratorium on earmarks, which is set for a vote on Tuesday, November 16th:
Tea Party Patriots (TPP), a national umbrella organization of local Tea Party groups, is asking its members to call Republican senators and demand that they agree in a caucus vote next Tuesday to forgo all earmarks in the upcoming Congress. In an e-mail to their 134,000 online members headlined, “Our first battle with the newly empowered GOP,” the group’s national coordinators single out for phone calls the two highest-ranking Republicans in the Senate, among others.
McConnell and his veteran allies, such as Sen. James Inhofe (Okla.), are reluctant to give up the perquisites of their seniority and the hundreds of millions of dollars they annually send to their home states for pet projects. The Tea Party Patriots’ call to action asks members to call their home-state senator if he or she is a Republican who has not committed to supporting DeMint’s amendment. In addition to McConnell and Inhofe, it lists five other senators to call, of whom three are in the Republican Senate leadership: Minority Whip John Kyl (Ariz.), GOP Conference Chair Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), and Conference Vice Chair John Thune (S.D.). The other two senators on the hit list are Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and John Barrasso (Wy.).
Republicans in the Senate are engaged in a fight over whether or not to enact a caucus-wide moratorium similar to what House Republicans imposed on themselves this year. You would think that this would be a no-brainer as an effort to appeal to grassroots conservatives and tea partyers, but some Republicans are pushing back, including Sen. Mitch McConnell:
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is maneuvering behind the scenes to defeat a conservative plan aimed at restricting earmarks, setting up a high-stakes showdown that pits the GOP leader and his “Old Bull” allies against Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and a new breed of conservative senators.
In a series of one-on-one conversations with incoming and sitting senators, McConnell is encouraging his colleagues to keep an open mind and not to automatically side with DeMint, whose plan calls on Senate Republicans to unilaterally give up earmarks in the 112th Congress, according to several people familiar with the talks.
While McConnell is not demanding that rank-and-file Republican senators vote against the earmark ban, he’s laying out his concerns that eliminating earmarks would effectively cede Congress’ spending authority to the White House while not making a real dent in the $1 trillion-plus budget deficit. And McConnell is signaling his concern about the awkward politics of the situation: even if the DeMint moratorium passes, Republican senators could push for earmarks, given that the plan is nonbinding and non-enforceable.
It seems the tension between the GOP establishment and the Tea Party movement has continued past last week’s elections. The AP is reporting that at least some elements of the GOP are blaming the Tea Party for preventing a take over of the Senate to go along with the bloodbath that took place in the House.
Republican leaders and strategists are muttering that the same Tea Party activists who elevated Speaker-to-be John Boehner and the party to power in the House simultaneously hobbled the GOP’s outside shot of running the Senate. Tea Partiers largely spurned establishment candidates in the GOP primaries and helped nominate Christine O’Donnell in Delaware, Sharron Angle in Nevada and Ken Buck in Colorado.
Here in lies the problem. You see, the “Republican leaders and strategists” are failing to grasp the idea that people aren’t going to vote for someone just because there’s a “R” beside their name. That’s not how it works anymore.
These three seats were never the Republican’s for the taking. They have to be earned. While the candidates in question may not have been the best possible, they were the will of the people. While the GOP strategists may be blaming the Tea Party movement for these candidates, I ask why these people won primaries if they were so horrid?
The truth is that the GOP establishment candidates didn’t resonate with the base, so the base chose someone else. That’s how primaries work and that’s what happened here. Did it backfire in three places? Yep, it did. And that’s just how it goes. Nothing is a sure thing, and since they can only point to three seats where it did backfire means that the Tea Party has had some major success.
Republican Rep. Ron Paul of Texas is a father of the Tea Party movement – literally, after his son, Rand Paul, won a contentious GOP primary in Kentucky and was subsequently elected the state’s next senator.
So, his endorsement Tuesday of fellow Texas Rep. Jeb Hensarling to chair the Republican Conference should quiet some voices in the tea party movement who would rather see Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann picked for the No. 4 leadership post in the House.
Mr. Paul’s endorsement letter to Mr. Hensarling is short and to the point: “As a fellow Texan I am pleased to announce my support for your candidacy as chairman of the House Republican Conference. I believe you have a unique opportunity to guide the conference to support concrete legislation that reduces the size and scope of the federal government.”
As I said on Monday, Hensarling is more serious about policy, and while I don’t agree with him on everything, he is more consistent than Bachmann, who has little to no public support from her colleagues in her bid. Even Rep. Paul Broun, a very conservative/constitutionalist Republican from my home state of Georgia, is backing Hensarling.
While visiting with Judge Andrew Napolitano on Freedom Watch this past weekend, Mike Huckabee, a potential GOP candidate for president in 2012, took issue with libertarians and free marketers over his record, saying, “If a libertarian thinks he’s a better Republican and calls people like me a RINO or a liberal, I have a real problem with that.”
Here is the segment:
While many are fans of Huckabee because of his support of the “Fair Tax,” there is little question that he is a fiscal liberal. During his tenure as Governor of Arkansas, Huckabee gave residents of the state a net tax hike of over $505 million to finance his big government agenda. His record on taxes is worse than Bill Clinton.