Trent Lott

Jim DeMint, Tea Parties Fight the Entrenched Establishment

National Review Online has a great profile of Sen. Jim DeMint today.  Trent Lott is wrong, we need a whole Senate full of Jim DeMint disciples…

On the candidates he’s backing through the Senate Conservatives Fund and with the help of Tea Party groups:

These candidates are leaders in their own right. I’m supporting them, because they’re not running on some consultant’s talking points. They’re running on principle.” Jockeying for a leadership position, he says, is not his focus. “What I’m interested in is turning this country away from its fiscal cliff — and for the first time since Reagan, I think that we have a chance for real action, not just political posturing.”

On the GOP establishment:

Still, without naming names, DeMint remains critical of many establishment GOP senators. Earlier this summer, former Senate majority leader Trent Lott (Miss.) told the Washington Post that the Senate does not “need a lot of Jim DeMint disciples.” Party leaders, he said, need to move quickly to “co-opt” any rabble-rousing conservatives who may find their way to the marble halls of Washington. DeMint, with a hint of disgust, says, “We need to realize that Trent Lott was speaking for many senior Republicans.”

Looking at what’s happened in Republican primaries across the country—most recently with Joe Miller in Alaska—the GOP establishment has a reason to be worried.

Dick Armey: The Anti-Trent Lott

“To paraphrase the former Leader himself, if recent Senates had had more Jim DeMints and fewer Trent Lotts making economic policy, ‘we wouldn’t have had all these problems over all these years.’” - Chris Chocola, President of the Club for Growth

On Sunday, Dick Armey, author of Give Us Liberty: A Tea Party Manifesto, and Trent Lott, who is representative of everything wrong with the Republican Party, discussed the tea party movement and the current crop of candidates running under its banner.

Armey believes, as he states in this short clip, that the tea party candidates are representative of the mainstream on fiscal issues. Lott, however, believes that they need to be “co-opted” so that people like him can still have a job when they are run out of Washington, DC.

An alternative to the DISCLOSE Act

Over at the Washington Examiner, Tim Carney, author of Obamanomics, offers a real alternative to the DISCLOSE Act, something Republicans could use in the 2010 mid-terms:

Republicans should support the bill sponsored by Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., which would close the most tawdry of Washington’s revolving doors — congressmen and senators cashing out to become lobbyists. These men monetize their “public service.” According to Talking Points Memo, there are at least 172 former members serving as registered lobbyists.

Tester’s bill would impose a lifetime ban on former House members and senators lobbying Congress. Republicans should see how Reid, Schumer, and Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., react to this bill, not to mention Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., who said in January he was quitting the Senate “to work on energy policy in the private sector.”

Next, Republicans should pick up where Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., left off. The chairman of the House Financial Services Committee has barred his former aides from lobbying him or his committee staff for as long as he holds the gavel.

Republicans should make this a law or at least a House rule: Committee staff who leave are permanently banned from lobbying their former committee and member staff are similarly banned from lobbying their former boss or his staff.

Of course, this would end former Sen. Trent Lott’s career, something none of us should lose sleep over.

So what did Trent Lott mean by his comments?

Recently, Trent Lott, a former Senator from Mississippi turned lobbyist, told the Washington Post:

Former Senate majority leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.), now a D.C. lobbyist, warned that a robust bloc of rabble-rousers spells further Senate dysfunction. “We don’t need a lot of Jim DeMint disciples,” Lott said in an interview. “As soon as they get here, we need to co-opt them.”

Lott, who isn’t exactly a friend to taxpayers, was slammed by groups like the Club for Growth and in the conservative blogosphere.

Over at the Washington Examiner, Tim Carney, author of Obamanomics, breaks down what Lott meant by his comment:

“We” means the K Street wing of the Republican Party.

There are Republican candidates, officials and activists who don’t like the way Washington works and who seriously want to cut government back to sustainable and constitutional levels. And then there are the more “reasonable” grown-ups — Republicans, in and out of office, who like talking about this sort of thing (and may kind of believe it) but who understand Washington as a game, or even a racket: Raise a fuss, quote Ronald Reagan, attack the other side, exalt capitalism — then get rich off the taxpayer.

Club for Growth slams Trent Lott

The Club for Growth has responded to Trent Lott’s criticism of the tea party movement, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) and his desire to co-opt conservatives running in the 2010 election should they get elected (we covered this yesterday):

“Corporate lobbyist Trent Lott is apparently afraid Congress’s incoming freshman class will put an end to the earmarks, handouts, and bailouts that make him rich,” Chocola said.  “He should be.  Real economic conservative reform, like that advocated by the Club for Growth and the Tea Parties, will put the K Street favor factory out of business.”

“The way forward for a lasting and deserving Republican majority is to embrace the pro-growth, fiscal conservative principles of limited government, free enterprise, and individual responsibility, and reject the self-serving counsel of lobbyists for the big government status quo.”

Chocola also answered Lott’s concern that incoming freshmen might follow the lead of pro-growth, limited government conservatives like Jim DeMint.  “To paraphrase the former Leader himself, if recent Senates had had more Jim DeMints and fewer Trent Lotts making economic policy, ‘we wouldn’t have had all these problems over all these years’,” Chocola said.

The last paragraph is actually a dig a Lott, who had to resign as Majority Leader of the Senate in 2002, after stating this at Sen. Strom Thurmond’s birthday party:

When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We’re proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn’t have had all these problems over the years, either.

Tea Party Caucus in the House and Senate

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) has filed paperwork to start a Capitol Hill Tea Party Caucus, according to Minnesota Public Radio:

“The American people are speaking out loud and clear. They have had enough of the spending, the bureaucracy, and the government knows best mentality running rampant today throughout the halls of Congress. This caucus will espouse the timeless principles of our founding, principles that all Members of Congress have sworn to uphold,” Bachmann stated. “The American people are doing their part and making their voices heard and this caucus will prove that there are some here in Washington willing to listen.”

Rand Paul, the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in Kentucky, has also floated the idea, likely including Mike Lee and Sharron Angle as well as fiscally conservative senators like Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Jim DeMint (R-SC), but some of his possible colleagues are cool to the idea:

So who wants to join Rand Paul’s “tea-party” caucus?

“I don’t know about that,” Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) replied with a nervous laugh. “I’m not sure I should be participating in this story.”

Republican lawmakers see plenty of good in the tea party, but they also see reasons to worry. The movement, which has ignited passion among conservative voters and pushed big government to the forefront of the 2010 election debate, has also stirred quite a bit of controversy. Voters who don’t want to privatize Social Security or withdraw from the United Nations could begin to see the tea party and the Republican Party as one and the same.

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