Tea Party on Government Reform
Sure, I understood the basic point that government plays a limited role in a lot of people's lives and that government isn't the solution to every problem. But someday I hoped to get a chance to ask him: Would you rather fly in an airplane WITHOUT the FAA checking air traffic control? Would you rather swallow a pill WITHOUT the FDA testing drug safety? Would you rather fight our fires WITHOUT our firefighters?
But I wasn't a member of Congress & he was. And the Tea Party had just helped dozens of people like him make it into public office, all loudly committed to unraveling just about everything the federal government had ever built
Okay, people can laugh and say I'm hopelessly naive, but this issue is a direct shot at democracy. In many states, the Republicans have made voter suppression a regular part of their arsenal, chipping away at early voting. African American voting, Latino voting, immigrant voting, student voting, you-name-it voting. As the Tea Party-affiliated True the Vote campaign famously said, they wanted voting to become like "driving and seeing the police following you." I guess attacking my daughter for her involvement in an organization that was pushing states to help more people register to vote was just one more page out of their standard playbook.
Critics have created various pejorative terms to criticize the Tea Party, such as accusing them of "constitutionalism." Complaining about constitutionalism in a constitutional republic is like complaining about "refereeism" at a football game. It is nonsensical. It is fine to root for one team, or one set of ideas and solutions, but it is foolish to make up the rules as you go along. That's really what the debate is about. Are the rules essentially fixed and reliable, or should one team be allowed to change them on a whim?
When I introduced my bill to get votes on the record, it was immediately and instinctively embraced by the Tea Party. As they got the word out, Democrats began to call me and ask to have their names put on the bill. Then Republicans did as well. The bill took on a life of its own. People across the state were calling their legislators to see if they supported the bill. I had legislators coming up to me in a panic saying, "Make sure my name is on the bill!" I fought alongside the Tea Party to get votes on the record.
Today, a majority of Americans have no fiscal incentive to oppose income tax increases, because they don't pay them, and an astonishing number of Americans now have a fiscal incentive to grow the size and scope of government, because government is either their employer or their benefactor through government handouts. Such a situation is dangerous and unsustainable, and it must be rectified.
Today, there are 14 cabinet-level departments, each of which has innumerable agencies, bureaus, programs, and administrators. The system has become a vast bureaucratic maze. Many Tea Partiers propose abolishing ALL cabinet-level departments of the US government other than State, Treasury, Defense, and Justice. Such a reorganization would have to take place over several years but would dramatically reduce the federal government.
Our two prime targets for immediate elimination are the Departments of Energy and Education. These are two recently added departments, which have been dismal failures.
We explained that to those of us who work for a living, $16 billion sure sounded like a lot of money. So much, in fact, that it would cover the average American's mortgage payments for nearly 900,000 years.
At that point, the senators changed their tactics and tried to convince us that national security was at stake, and that without earmarks, the Defense Department wouldn't be able to defend the country.
The Supreme Court now agrees that states may enter into compacts even without the approval of Congress, as long as they don't infringe upon an area over which the federal government clearly has supremacy. On issues as diverse as transportation infrastructure and environmental protection, we believe that rather than allowing the federal government to take over, states, working together, can better address these problems. The closer that decisions can be made to the people, the better those decisions will be.
We believe that an issue as large as health care is best addressed through interstate compacts. That's why we support the Health Care compact.
In 1998, the city of New London, CT, seized the property of home owner Suzette Kelo for what it considered a "public purpose." Had that public purpose been to build a highway or a public school, the case would probably not have raised many eyebrows. Suzette Kelo's property, however, was seized and given to a private entity that claimed it would create more economic growth in the area than Kelo. (The land was ostensibly taken to build a hotel and offices to enhance the value of a campus for Pfizer Pharmaceuticals.) That's right--the government seized property from one private landowner and gave it to another. And the Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision, said that was OK.
The proposed wording according to the grassroots RepealAmendment.org: "Any provision of law or regulation of the US may be repealed by the several states, and such repeal shall be effective when the legislatures of 2/3 of the several states approve resolutions for this purpose that particularly describes the same provision of provisions of law or regulation to be repealed."
The 2/3 requirement prevents a simple majority from overriding the other states and ensures that only legislation that is opposed by the vast majority of citizens is overturned. Motivated by Tea Party activists, politicians are working to ensure the right of the states to overrule the Supreme Court when the Court rules a government action constitutional but a majority of citizens believe it is not.
Last year's ceiling debate in which so many critics said the Tea Party was now "running" Washington--well, that was only the beginning. It should be a surprise to no one that Washington remains stubbornly resistant to change. Despite much crowing about the "extremism" of Republican freshmen, conservatives haven't changed anything yet. But we are getting started.
At best, our current policies are merely slowing down our fast-approaching default. We are borrowing $40,000 per second. Entitlements and interest will consume the entire budget within a decade. The debt ceiling deal set spending caps that increase every year. My understanding of "cutting" spending is that you would spend less next year than you spent this year. Yet the debt ceiling caps still rise each year, revealing the lie that spending will be cut.
Constitutional reverence is not just in cyberspace. The US founding documents are woven into the warp and woof of Tea Party routines. Pocket-sized versions of the Constitution appear on merchandise tables at Tea Party meetings. "Constitution talk" bubbles through discussions in Tea Party gatherings. "Smaller government, the Constitution, and personal responsibility" are the Tea Party's core principles.
Tea Party skepticism about experts is part and parcel of their direct approach to democracy, their belief in citizen activism. To guard against possible bamboozlement, Tea Party members arm themselves for confrontations with their Representatives by reading particular bills themselves. For Tea Party activists, any hint that a legislator or expert has not personally read every line of a bill is a damning indictment.
thousands of patriotic Americans have taken to the streets in protest--invoking the historic Boston Tea Party in the process. They are running for office and swarming the voting booths, sending shock waves from MA to HI. Their anger is directed against the establishment--that lumbering mass of old-guard politicians who do not understand that there is a quiet revolution taking place. And the shock waves are being felt on both sides of the political aisle.
Why do we care about $29 billion in earmarks when our national deficit this year will be around $1.5 trillion? Because earmarks corrupt the process and divert attention from the real task of governing and oversight.
A modest 1-year moratorium on earmarks, proposed in 2008, was defeated 29-71. However, due to pressure from the Tea Party movement and an extremely frustrated American public, the idea of a moratorium remains alive, and at least the House GOP voted as a conference in Mar. 2010 to adopt a moratorium. What legislators should do is adopt a moratorium on pork until the budget is actually balanced, but don't hold your breath. In fact, the GOP failed to mention earmarks in its "agenda" document released in the fall of 2010
Perhaps what challenges the movement's many critics is the fact that Tea Party does not buy into the traditional Left vs. Right debate. It is better framed as "big vs. small." It is a fundamental debate about the size and scope of government. Triggered by bailouts of irresponsible behavior on Wall Street, the Tea Party movement is first and foremost about fiscal responsibility--something that the political establishment across the Left-Right spectrum has failed to deliver. Trillion-dollar deficits and stimulus packages that only stimulate more deficit spending do not pass the commonsense test of kitchen-table economics.
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Natural Law Party
George W. Bush(R,2001-2009)
George Bush Sr.(R,1989-1993)
John F. Kennedy(D,1961-1963)
American Civil Liberties Union