Tea Party

CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR: Amid Harsh Criticisms, ‘Tea Party’ Slips into the Mainstream

The release of the top three ‘tea party’ issues this week gives a glimpse of a small-government movement growing, maturing, and looking increasingly more like middle America.

By Patrik Jonsson, Staff Writer for Christian Science Monitor

Their faces sometimes twisted in anger, ‘tea party’ followers have been called neo-Klansmen and knuckle-dragging hillbillies.

To be sure, angry town halls, the N-word thrown at black congressmen, and signs comparing President Obama to Adolf Hitler play into the hands of the movement’s critics. And demonizing tea party activists tends to energize the Democrats’ left-of-center base.

But political experts say that many such criticisms are near-sighted, if not outright inappropriate – and ultimately may miss the point. Indeed, polls suggest that tea party activists are not only more mainstream than many critics suggest, but that a majority of them are women (primarily mothers), not angry white men.

What’s more, the release this week of the top three planks of the “crowd-sourced” Contract From America project, to some activists, shows a maturation from sign-wielding protesters to a political reform movement grounded in ideas.

The top three vote-getters among 360,000 respondents on the Contract From America website: Calling for an enumerated powers act to force lawmakers to check the constitionality of new laws; requiring a two-thirds majority in Congress for any tax hike; and a legislative backstop to prevent the EPA from “backdoor regulating.”

Tea Party: ‘Intellectual Reform Movement?’

“[The ideas in the tea party-coined Contract From America] takes our protest movement and really sets forth a real kind of intellectual reform movement,” says Ryan Hecker, a Tea Party Patriots activist in Houston, and a founder of the Contract From America website. “It’s a response to the idea that the tea party people don’t know what they’re fighting about, and it shows there’s a real intellectual center to this movement and that we really do have ideas.”

Still, many critics look at a tea party crowd and just see a “fantasy-based” movement of “angry white people,” as Monitor Facebook commentator Bill Downey points out.

The fact that most tea party activists are white, however, may reflect less racial animus against a black president than the fact that white workers – by far the majority in the US population – have seen their plight worsen at dramatic rates, some political experts say.

“[O]pposition to health-care reform from the tea party is not based on racism but self-interest,” writes NPR’s Juan Williams, who is black, in the Wall Street Journal. “The older, whiter segment of the American demographic was at the heart of opposition to the president’s health-care proposal because they feared cuts in their Medicare benefits or tax hikes eroding their income.”

Most Americans Down on Big Government

Moreover, polls show that the anger at big government exhibited by tea party protesters is shared by many, if not most, Americans.

Continue reading at the Christian Science Monitor

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Getting It On, 2010 Version

By Barry Casselman

The 2010 national mid-term elections are now taking full shape as incumbents make their final decisions about whether they will run for re-election or not, and challengers are stepping up to the plate to take on those incumbents who do run.

The momentum so far is clearly to Republican challengers, but this is not true in all states and in all races. Furthermore, if the GOP is to win big in November, it will have to raise a substantial amount of money, develop major national organizing and campaign technology support, and continue to “nationalize” the 2010 elections. A further challenge for Republicans will be to integrate the significant grass roots “Tea Party” movement into their electoral efforts (to avoid self-defeating campaigns in which Tea Party candidates run as independents against Republicans, thus giving elections to the Democrats).

Democrats have serious challenges, too. They need to “localize” as many elections as best they can because national public opinion is not favorable to the recently-passed healthcare legislation, the continued bail-out of big banks and corporations, and to the Obama foreign policy which is in a shambles.

President Obama’s popularity has declined precipitously. The historic surge among black voters in 2008 will not reappear in 2010. Independents, most of whom voted for Obama in 2008, are shifting away from the president. His policy in the Middle East and with our other major allies is also turning off Jewish voters, and other liberals who had different expectations of him. House speaker Nancy Pelosi and senate leader Harry Reid, the daily faces and voices of the Democratic agenda, are not attractive or inspiring political figures.

Republicans seem ready to offer a new “Contract From America.” specifying alternative policies to the current Democratic agenda. How the public will respond to this is unknown. Social conservatives and others on the right who want to revive the immigration issue risk turning away important constituencies, most notable of which is the huge Hispanic voting population. This group is naturally conservative, but in 2006 and 2008 began turning more and more to the Democrats as illegal immigration and amnesty issues were taken up on the right and alienated many Hispanic voters.


Continue reading at the Prairie Editor

FOX NEWS: Tea Partiers Draft ‘Contract From America’ to Tackle Country’s Problems

Echoing the Republican Revolution of 1994, Tea Party activists are crafting a document that expresses the beliefs, values and ideas on how to solve the country’s biggest problems.

Tea Party activists, echoing the Republicans who took control of Congress in 1994, are crafting a document that expresses their beliefs, values and ideas on how to solve the country’s biggest problems.

The Tea Party Movement will unveil the full “Contract from America” on April 15, Tax Day. But on Thursday, Tea Partiers released the top three planks of the platform, which were determined by an online vote.

The top priority, chosen by 80.7 percent of respondents, is to protect the Constitution. This would require each bill to identify the specific provision of the Constitution that gives Congress the power to do what the bill does.

The second priority, selected by 70.8 percent, is to reject President Obama’s climate change legislation, otherwise known as “cap and trade.”

The third priority is demand a balanced budget – chosen by 69.9 percent. This calls for starting a constitutional amendment process to require a balanced budget with a two-thirds majority needed for any tax hike.

The priorities were chosen from a list of 21 issues that included “stop the tax hikes,” “commit to real government transparency,” “no more bailouts,” and “stop the pork.”

Continue reading on Fox News

THE ATLANTIC: Does the GOP Have a Tea Party Problem?

By Chris Good

A question hovering around the tea party movement has been: will it hurt Republicans at the polls in November, generating third-party candidates and sucking votes away from the GOP?

Polling released this past week by Quinnipiac says this is a possibility: with tea party candidates running in a generic race, Republicans go from winners to losers, with just 25% of the vote. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, for its part, has put together a list of races involving conservative challengers, some running as third-party candidates, advertised as “Palin’s Primaries.”

I don’t know the answer to this question for sure, but I do know this: top tea party organizers are not interested in supporting third-party candidates, or in forming official Tea Party political parties in states, which means it’s unlikely we’ll see an organized movement to form Tea Parties and make trouble in GOP-stronghold districts.

In other words: the tea party movement won’t rise up to challenge the GOP, on a national scale, any time soon.

“Personally, I think it’s better to run within the established parties and try to change the parties,” said Jenny Beth Martin, national co-chair of the group Tea Party Patriots. Martin’s group claims to have 15 million members; after surveying local organizers, Tea Party Patriots leaders put out a statement making clear that it did not support the formation of a Tea Party political party.

With guidance from the Dick Armey-led FreedomWorks, the tea party movement figures to target, in organized fashion, about four House races and four Senate races this fall. None of those include third-party bids.

As far as third-party candidates go, it’s more likely that individuals will decide to run, without the encouragement of state or national organizers, seeking to claim the tea party mantle.

But it’s questionable whether such candidates would garner enough support to make a difference, despite the findings from Quinnipiac. It’s one thing to tell a pollster you like the idea of a tea party candidate–and, to be sure, some conservatives are upset with the Republican Party, based on TARP and Bush-era spending–but another thing to vote for a candidate who is polling low, especially if a Republican candidate has tacked sufficiently to the right.

We saw a tea partier run in the Massachusetts Senate race, but Joe Kennedy (no relation to the Kennedy family, or to the other Joe Kennedy) only got 1% of the vote.

Continue reading at The Atlantic

Dream a Little Dream: “The Tea Party Moving Forward”

By Candace E. Salima

The tea party movement has been an interesting one to behold. I have been in the thick of it from the beginning and it has now grown to 39,000,000+ strong and our numbers are only increasing. While splinter groups formed across the nation, Tea Party Patriots has moved forward with action instead of just words. Borrowing from Newt Gingrich’s wildly successful 1980’s “Contract with America,” the Tea Party Patriots have created the Contract from America.

“The Contract from America is a grassroots-generated, crowd-sourced, bottom-up call for real economic conservative and good governance reform in Congress. The Contract from America initiative was developed within the decentralized tea party and 912 movements. Ryan Hecker, a Houston Tea Party Society activist, developed the concept of creating a grassroots-generated call for reform prior to the April 15, 2009 Tax Day Tea Party rallies.”

Go here and choose the issues you feel are the top 10 priorities for America. Choose wisely, but please go choose.

And a note I wish to strongly emphasize. The Tea Party movement, as it has coalesced into a force to be reckoned with, has largely ignored God, focusing instead on America’s wildly out of control federal government. In focusing on the U.S. Constitution, which includes the inviolate Bill of Rights, they do stand for “freedom of religion.” But as a point I feel needs to be strongly stressed, we here in Utah will NEVER remove God from the equation. Along with Governor Palin, we pray for divine intervention in this oncoming train wreck we now identify as America vs. the 111th Congress.

Continue reading at Dream a Little Dream

GOP Testing a New Contract With America

By Paul Bedard

With public and internal polls showing the likelihood of a huge Republican voter swing in the fall, party officials are now testing the need for and the issues that would be included in an election agenda like the 1994 Contract With America.

One of the key findings by party officials quizzing the public so far: Voters would like a list of changes the Republicans would bring if installed as the majority in the House or Senate or both. “There would be a market” for a new contract, says a top official.

Both the House and the Senate GOP have tasked members to reach outside the beltway to draw up ideas that could be included in a new contract. And Tea Party members working with Dick Armey’s FreedomWorks are drawing up a similar “Contract From America.”

Continue reading at U.S. News & World Report

SCRIPPS NEWS: Republicans Look for New Contract to Help Regain Congress

WASHINGTON – Republicans are so convinced that the fall midterm elections could be a repeat of 1994, the year that ushered them into the majority in Congress, they are reaching into the playbook for the prop that helped propel that victory: a new Contract with America.

House Republicans have tapped one of their own to begin casting for ideas to form a 10-point legislative to-do list, promises candidates would make to voters this fall.

Only problem is, the Tea Party movement beat them to it.

For months, Tea Party activists have been crafting a Contract from America, a soon-to-be released document from the renegade conservative movement.

Not to be outdone, a cadre of old-guard conservatives headed by former Attorney General Edwin Meese and backed by the conservative Heritage Foundation this month launched a broad decree known as the Mount Vernon Statement.

For a political party being criticized as the party of no, the flurry of manifestos offers an aggressive effort to stand for something.

“There is a perception that the 1994 Contract with America contributed to the Republican victory, and a lot of people on the conservative side of the aisle want history to repeat itself,” said John Pitney, a former Republican operative who is now a government professor at Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, Calif.

“They’re also aware they need to be for something,” he said. “They want to define themselves rather than let the other side define them.”

The original Contract with America was essentially a small-government 10-step program – a “detailed agenda for national renewal, a written commitment with no fine print,” it said.

The now almost legendary document championed by then-Republican Rep. Newt Gingrich of Georgia outlined a series of legislative proposals Republican candidates vowed to bring to the House floor for a vote, if elected.

Continue reading at Scripps News

“All of the Above” Energy Policy

Authorize the exploration of proven energy reserves to reduce our dependence on foreign energy sources from unstable countries and reduce regulatory barriers to all other forms of energy creation, lowering prices and creating competition and jobs.

SUMMARY

Energy is the stuff of life. With it, we can accomplish practically anything; we grow food, make necessities, provide warmth and shelter and comfort, education and entertainment. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) estimates U.S. supplies at 117 billion barrels of oil and 651 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, on shore and off. This is enough oil to replace entirely our OPEC imports for more than 50 years, and enough natural gas to supply all U.S. needs for more than 30 years. That’s not counting our even more vast supplies of coal, counting in the centuries. We must no longer deny ourselves access to our most productive and affordable energy types.

The BLM found that 60 percent of the onshore federal lands with potentially significant domestic amounts of natural gas and crude are politically inaccessible. We as a nation are sitting on vast deposits of oil and natural gas that we could be using to reduce our imports. Increasingly, our coal reserves are subject to similar political constraints, even as we pour billions into clean coal technologies.

~ Tom Tanton, Pacific Research Institute

End Runaway Government Spending

Impose a statutory cap limiting the annual growth in total federal spending to the sum of the inflation rate plus the percentage of population growth. (Mark Meckler, Sacramento, CA)

SUMMARY

Since 2001, federal spending has grown 51 percent faster than inflation, and now stands at $29,813 per household. President Obama’s budget could push real federal spending above $37,000 per household by the end of this decade. Taxpayers clearly cannot afford to fund this level of spending.

Families and businesses are tightening their belts and capping their spending. Yet Congress is not subject to any statutory spending caps. Entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare grow 7 percent annually on autopilot with no Congressional oversight. Discretionary spending is budgeted annually (at growth rates recently averaging 8 percent), yet Congress bypasses even those minor restraints by declaring any additional spending “emergencies.”

The only way to force lawmakers to set priorities and make trade-offs is to enact a law capping the growth of the federal government to the inflation rate plus population growth (approximately 3.5 percent annually). No more blank checks, no programs on autopilot, all programs competing against each other for tax dollars. Any additional spending should require a 2/3 supermajority vote (which should be reachable during a real emergency). Such a spending cap – starting from the pre-recession 2008 spending levels – could likely balance the budget by 2020 without tax increases. It’s a vital step towards protecting the family budget from the federal budget.

~ Brian Riedl, Heritage Foundation

Defund, Repeal, & Replace Government-run Health Care

Defund, repeal, and replace government-run health care. Make health care and insurance more affordable by enabling a competitive, open, and transparent free-market health care and health insurance system that isn’t restricted by state boundaries.

SUMMARY

One of the defining moments in the formation of the Tea Party movement was the opposition to government-run health care. The antithesis to government-run health care is a competitive, free market system that puts patients first. Over 84% of Americans already have health insurance, and 75% of those are satisfied with the care they receive. Enacting real health reform that keeps costs in check not only satisfies the majority, it also makes health care more affordable for those who don’t have coverage. Competition thrives when the barriers to entry are low, uncertainty is eliminated, innovation flourishes and customers are free to choose from a range of options. Together, these factors put downward pressure on costs.

Congress could easily and cheaply enact health reform laws that allow insurers to compete across state lines. In so doing, burdensome regulations that differ from state to state would be streamlined so that all insurers could compete on a level playing field. New competition rewards the most innovative companies, and customers would have a wider range of coverage options. The end result is patients will have more freedom, more choices, and a competitive system with built-in incentives to control costs and stay competitive.

~ Rick Scott, Conservatives for Patients’ Rights