Tea Party

WSJ: “Tea-Party Activists Stage Tax-Day Rallies”

Filing Deadline Brings Out Protesters Against Big Government, Administration Policies; ‘Tsunami of Conservatism’

By Neil King Jr., Douglas Belkin, and Louise Radnofsky

Tea-party activists held rallies across the country Thursday, the deadline for filing federal tax returns, to highlight what they said were onerous taxes and a bloated federal government.

The activists protested Democratic policies and displayed varying attitudes toward prominent Republicans. Some groups invited marquee conservatives, such as former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who addressed around 500 people in Austin, Texas.

Other organizers refused to invite politicians of any stripe, reflecting the deep distrust many in the movement feel toward elected officials.

In Wisconsin, several tea-party groups protested a decision to let former Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson address a rally in Madison. Saying it was “time for new voices and new faces,” Mr. Thompson used his speech to announce that he would not challenge Wisconsin Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold in his bid for re-election.

The rallies in town squares and hotel ballrooms from Philadelphia to San Diego came a year after a similar spate of April 15 protests put the small-government, anti-tax movement on the national map.

Organizers said Thursday’s rallies were more numerous and generally larger than last year’s. But the gatherings also illustrated the conflicting aims and strategies that have sprung up within the movement, which is now made up of hundreds of local groups working under a dizzying array of names.

The Tea Party Express, a group organized by a California political-consulting company, concluded a nationwide bus tour with a rally in Washington, D.C., that prominently featured—and endorsed—an array of Republican candidates in the midterm elections. Most other groups have spurned such endorsements.

One candidate endorsed by the group was Sharron Angle, a former member of the Nevada State Assembly, who is among a dozen Republicans vying to challenge Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat. The Tea Party Express made her one of its 14 “heroes” in the November election.

“Good morning, American patriots,” Ms. Angle said in her speech to about 200 activists. “You have brought a tsunami of conservatism across this country.”

Continue reading at the Wall Street Journal

CONGRESS.ORG: Tea Partier to GOP… “Copy Away”

Republicans seem to be borrowing from the tea party playbook.

By Ambreen Ali

If imitation is a form of flattery, then the GOP just paid tea partyer Ryan Hecker the ultimate compliment.

As Hecker and the Tea Party Patriots unveiled the final version of their Contract From America , House Republicans announced a very similar initiative called the Commitment to America.

Like the tea party’s 10-point manifesto , the Republicans’ mission statement will be generated by collecting online surveys from conservative Americans.

Hecker collected more than 500,000 surveys over the past six months and recently unveiled his web-savvy strategy for incorporating the grassroots.

“I’m honored that they’re looking at the process we used,” Hecker said Thursday as he set up for a Tax Day rally on the National Mall.

“At the end of the day, if the Republicans come up with their own document and it’s a strong document, that’s good,” he added. “But I hope that our agenda is still a central part of what they’re doing.”

Hecker said the growing popularity of the tea parties is a big reason why the Republican Party is opening up their document to grassroots input.

“I think they recognize that they’ve lost some legitimacy,” he said.

The Republican initiative appears to be coming from the offices of House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), who has tried to court the tea parties without undermining their independence. He asked Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to lead the effort.

“In ’94 there wasn’t the Internet, there wasn’t phone apps,” McCarthy told Roll Call . “We are going to make it easy so anybody from across this country from all different walks [can contribute].”

Continue reading at Congress.org

NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE: The Limited-Government Big Tent

By Michael G. Franc

In February an impressive cross-section of national conservative leaders, including one Kathryn Lopez of NRO fame, released the Mount Vernon Statement. This succinct document eloquently sets forth the tenets of constitutional conservatism. To me, its most significant passage is the one that summarizes how the “natural fusion” provided by America’s founding principles unites the various traditions of modern American conservatism:

[Constitutional conservatism] reminds economic conservatives that morality is essential to limited government, social conservatives that unlimited government is a threat to moral self-government, and national security conservatives that energetic but responsible government is the key to America’s safety and leadership role in the world.

The Contract From America sets forth a similar case for limited government, arguing: “When our government ventures beyond [those limited powers that have been relinquished to it by the people] and attempts to increase its power over the marketplace and the economic decisions of individuals, our liberties are diminished and the probability of corruption, internal strife, economic depression, and poverty increases.”

Its policy platform calls on lawmakers to first, do no harm: repeal Obamacare, jettison the regulatory nightmare of cap-and-trade, and reject tax increases of any kind. On the proactive side, the Contract calls on Congress to approve a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution, a “simple and fair single-rate tax system,” an “all of the above” energy policy that would revive domestic energy production, an end to earmarks, and a hard cap on overall federal spending.

Continue reading at National Review Online

LARRY KUDLOW: “America’s Constitutionalist Revolt”

By Larry Kudlow

So much is being written in the mainstream media about who the tea partiers are, but very little is being recorded about what these folks are actually saying.

We know that this is a decentralized grassroots movement, with many different voices hailing from many different towns across the country. But the tea-party message comes together in the “Contract from America,” the product of an online vote orchestrated by Ryan Hecker, a Houston tea-party activist and national coordinator for the Tea Party Patriots.

With nearly 500,000 votes recorded in less than two months, this Contract forms a blueprint of tea-party policy goals and beliefs.

Of the top-ten planks in the Contract, the number-one issue is protect the Constitution. That’s followed by reject cap-and-trade, demand a balanced budget, and enact fundamental tax reform. And then comes number five: Restore fiscal responsibility and constitutionally limited government in Washington.

Note that two of the top-five priorities of the tea partiers mention the Constitution.

Filling out the Contract, the bottom-five planks are end runaway government spending; defund, repeal, and replace government-run health care; pass an all-of-the-above energy policy; stop the pork; and stop the tax hikes.

What’s so significant to me about this tea-party Contract from America is the strong emphasis on constitutional limits and restraints on legislation, spending, taxing, and government control of the economy. Undoubtedly, the emphasis is there because no one trusts Washington.

As I read this Contract, tea partiers are reminding all of us of the need for the Constitution to protect our freedoms. They’re calling for a renewal of constitutional values, including — first and foremost — a return to constitutional limits on government. The tea partiers who responded to this poll are demanding a rebirth of the consent of the governed. The government works for us, we don’t work for it.

Continue reading at National Review Online

FOX NEWS: Tea Party Protesters Descend on D.C. with New ‘Contract From America’

Thousands of protesters descended on the nation’s Capitol for April 15 tax deadline protests as activists offered up a new “Contract From America” aimed at using the winning formula of the 1994 Republican revolution while also developing a direction for the burgeoning movement.

WASHINGTON — Thousands of protesters descended on the nation’s Capitol for April 15 tax deadline protests as activists offered up a new “Contract From America” aimed at using the winning formula of the 1994 Republican revolution while also developing a direction for the burgeoning movement.

Those behind the document say that by asking visitors to the Web site contractfromamerica.org to propose and vote on the agenda, the results are a list not “handed down from on high by old-bull politicians, but one handed up from the true grassroots in this country.”

“After garnering nearly half a million votes in less than two months, the Contract from America has now been finalized into a blueprint that will serve notice to public officials about what the people want for their future,” reads a press release from the contract’s organizers.

Continue reading at Fox News

POLITICO: GOP Praises Tea Party ‘Contract from America’

By Jake Sherman

House Republicans are showering praise on the tea party’s “Contract from America,” a document that lays out some of the movement’s priorities.

As the tea partiers gathered on the National Mall for a tax day protest, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said the document “captures the American people’s frustration with a government that has grown too big, too costly, and too arrogant.”

The tea party contract calls for a balanced budget, repeal of the health care law, tax reform, an end to earmarks and a rejection of a cap and trade energy plan.

House Republican Conference Chair Mike Pence of Indiana said it’s a “good start toward the essential goals of individual liberty, limited government, and economic freedom.”

“I hope that many conservative leaders will join with this bold initiative that’s marked by powerful ideas to get our government’s fiscal house in order,” Pence wrote in an emailed statement. “As Republicans move forward developing our agenda for the 112th Congress, efforts like this will be invaluable.”

Continue reading at the Politico

NYT: A Revised Contract for America, Minus ‘With’ and Newt

By Bernie Becker

WASHINGTON — Sixteen years after the Contract With America, say hello to the Contract From America.

On Wednesday, some members of the Tea Party movement released a legislative agenda they want elected officials to follow. The 10 planks of the Contract from America — heavy on fiscal restraint and limited government, light on social issues — were chosen through an online ballot and unveiled the day before a round of Tea Party protests scheduled to be held across the country on April 15, Tax Day.

The contract, to use its own language, asks candidates to agree to: 1) protect the Constitution; 2) reject cap-and-trade regulation of climate-warming gases; 3) demand a balanced budget; 4) enact fundamental tax reform; 5) restore fiscal responsibility and constitutionally limited government in Washington; 6) end runaway government spending; 7) defund, repeal and replace government-run health care; 8) pass an “all-of-the-above” energy policy (referring, in part, to the exploration of domestic energy reserves); 9) stop the pork; and 10) stop the tax hikes.

The announcement of the list came after a seven-week contest that organizers said attracted more than 450,000 votes.

Continue read at the New York Times

Grassroots Activists Help Launch Historic “Contract from America”

Download a hardcopy of the official press release here.

On April 15th, hundreds of local Tea Party and limited government groups around the country will join together to announce the launch of the “Contract from America,” a grassroots legislative blueprint for 2010 and beyond. Originally proposed by Ryan Hecker, a Houston Tea Party activist and National Coordinator for the initiative’s chief organizing group Tea Party Patriots, this project is intended to present a different kind of agenda for our federal lawmakers: unlike the Contract with America introduced in the 1990s, everyday citizens proposed and voted on every plank of the Contract from America.

Grassroots activists from across the country visited the website to choose their top ten priorities from a list of 21 action items that committed Americans from all walks of life proposed. The top ten issues comprise the final Contract. By asking website visitors to propose and vote on the agenda, the result is not a list handed down from on high by old-bull politicians, but one handed up from the true grassroots in this country. After garnering nearly half a million votes in less than two months, the Contract from America has now been finalized into a blueprint that will serve notice to public officials about what the people want for their future.

And the top ten are…

1. Protect the Constitution
2. Reject Cap & Trade
3. Demand a Balanced Budget
4. Enact Fundamental Tax Reform
5. Restore Fiscal Responsibility & Constitutionally Limited Government in Washington
6. End Runaway Government Spending
7. Defund, Repeal, & Replace Government-run Health Care
8. Pass an ‘All-of-the-Above” Energy Policy
9. Stop the Pork
10. Stop the Tax Hikes

We are proud to join with millions of Tea Party activists across the country to announce the arrival of the Contract from America and the exit of elected officials who continue to ignore calls for fiscal responsibility, constitutionally-limited government, and free markets.

WASH EXAMINER: Enough Already with Bashing of Tea Partiers

By Ron Miller, President of Regular Folks United

Previously apolitical Americans who have become involved with the unexpected uprising known as the Tea Party movement have been subjected to a virulent and sustained assault by the political class, the media elite, academia and the entertainment industry.

Those who still trust these corrupted institutions are misled into believing this textbook application of the people’s First Amendment rights to free speech, assembly and petition is motivated by racism, targeting America’s first black President.

As a veteran, family man and law-abiding citizen, I am angry at these institutions for impugning my neighbors and friends.

As a black man who knows real racism when he sees it, I am furious at their trivialization of the word for political gain. The people who gave President Obama approval ratings in the mid-80’s at the beginning of his term didn’t become racists overnight. It’s not his skin color, but his policies that mobilized the silent majority into action.

Regular folks are angry because the institutions we trusted in the past have failed us. Our elected officials are supposed to work for us, not demean and disregard us.

The media is supposed to inform us without an agenda, to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable” regardless of ideology.

Our schools are supposed to impart information to our children and develop their critical thinking skills, not spout propaganda and promote groupthink.

Our entertainers, whose careers depend on the millions of ordinary Americans who adore them, are supposed to amuse or inspire us, not deride us for our beliefs and lifestyles, which they deem less enlightened than their own.

Obama, who promised to transcend our divisions, instead exacerbates them. He represents all the people, but openly mocks those of us who object to his vision of America as people who are not just wrong, but stupid and easily misled. This open display of condescension toward ordinary Americans by our own president is unprecedented in my lifetime.

We expect the people in the political arena to take shots at one another. We don’t expect our elected officials, whose salaries we pay and whose respect we are owed due to the power we accorded them, to attack us and mobilize their allies against us.

We are not the enemy.

We believe in the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

We believe true compassion is a personal, voluntary act of love taken by individuals acting alone or collectively, not the confiscation and redistribution of our wealth by government.

We believe government serves the people, not the other way around, and should be our protector and enforcer, but not our provider. We know the price of government meeting our needs is the loss of our liberty and prosperity.

If you share our beliefs, regardless of race, you are welcome here – I guarantee it.

Continue reading at the Washington Examiner

Tea Parties Brew Notable Ideas

By Kyle Wingfield

If there is a Party of No, it’s not the tea party.

A week from today, Tax Day, tea partiers will again stage rallies nationwide to protest overgrown government. Last year’s huge April 15 crowds and the momentum they kept up established the loosely organized groups as a political fixture.

But tea partiers next week won’t simply tell Washington what not to do. They’ll present an affirmative plan: a 10-point Contract From America.

This platform has been months, scores of ideas and hundreds of thousands of online votes in the making. Candidates who want tea party support will commit to the ideas chosen from 21 finalists.

There are many good policies among those 21, but a shorter list is wise. In that spirit, here are five of the planks I support.

Note that I intentionally excluded constitutional amendments from my list. A two-thirds vote is required in both the U.S. House and Senate for a potential amendment to be sent to the states for approval. I think such a majority is unlikely in the next two years.

That’s also why I’ve left out the option for market-based health reform. Repealing the newly passed health law and replacing it with a better one is a worthy idea, but it’s not going to happen while Barack Obama is president. I’m going with ideas that are doable, and soon:

1. Enact Fundamental Tax Reform. Other items would keep the Bush tax cuts in place and require a two-thirds vote to raise taxes. I’d rather overhaul the tax code entirely.

This idea calls for adopting “a fair and simple single-rate tax system by scrapping the internal revenue code and replacing it with one that is no longer than 4,543 words — the length of the original Constitution.”

A single rate — aka the flat tax — would stop the progressive code’s punishment of success. The word limit is key, too: It would slash special-interest carve-outs and loopholes, which reward lobbying power and create inefficiencies.

2. End Runaway Government Spending. This plank would limit spending increases to the rates of inflation and population growth, or roughly 5 percent to 6 percent a year.

History shows that federal revenues are consistently around 18 percent of the economy. Unchecked spending, by both major parties, is what creates budget deficits.

Continue reading at the Atlanta Journal Constitution