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Santa came early this year. He arrived on December 16th, the 237th anniversary of the Boston Tea Party. And he was flying a Gadsden flag from the back of his sleigh.
If you believe in fiscal responsibility and limited government, the defeat of the Omnibus spending bill – chockablock with a bloated stimulus baseline that ratchets up all spending, funding to implement ObamaCare, and over 6,600 earmarks – was the perfect present. It was a surprise gift, unexpected by everyone. Everyone, that is, save the men and women who now stand at the very center of American politics. Just as they defined election outcomes on November 2nd, the massive constituency we now know as the Tea Party roiled, and then rolled right over the big spenders to stop the bipartisan culture of pork barrel spending.
The November 2nd election was a mandate against such things. It was a mandate against a big, expensive and arrogant government that was spending too much money and getting involved in too many things that it had no business, or Constitutional authority, to do.
Most members of the incoming freshman Republican class had signed on to what amounts to a Tea Party campaign manifesto called the Contract FROM America. Number nine on that list of ten items: “ban all earmarks.” Soon after the election, House Republicans embraced a ban, something House Republican Leader John Boehner had failed to convince his caucus to do just months earlier. Then Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that he too, for the first time, supported an end to spending earmarks. But some Senate Republicans refused to back him, enough to join with Democrats to pass the Omnibus pork fest.
But on December 16th, with a keen eye on the 2012 elections, those Republicans and vulnerable Democrats like Claire McCaskill (MO) and Jim Webb (VA) finally walked away from the bloated spending measure, forcing Harry Reid to pull it from the floor.
As this remarkable year comes to a close, I wanted to write and thank you for all that you have done personally to support FreedomWorks and the millions of activists who work so hard to make a difference. None of us could have done what we do without your support. I can say, with just a little bit of pride, that together you and I made a difference for our nation, for our freedoms, and for the futures of our children and grandchildren.
It’s not every day that we can say that!
What a long strange trip it’s been since January 2008. Admit it, you didn’t believe that anything would – or could – stop what then seemed like an inexorable march towards omnipotent government and the end of individual freedom in America.
And then citizens started standing up from their kitchen tables; up from their couches. You, your family, your friends and neighbors, and millions of other fellow citizens you will likely never meet all began standing up against an arrogant political class that had lost touch. At best, our political leaders had forgotten the simple values of freedom, individual initiative and government restraint that make America exceptional. At worse, they were hostile to these values, hell-bent on the idea that government knew better and had the right to redistribute your hard-earned money to their ends.
The Pelosi Democrats call this idea "progressive," but it's not a new idea. It has been the Fool's Errand of all would-be central planners for centuries. The new progressives hate the old “Socialist” label of their failed ideology. The President himself, piqued by the question, went out of his way to tell the New York Times: "I am not a Socialist." Of course, words mean what they mean, and "Socialism" refers to a system of economic organization where government owns the means of production. Like car companies, or the provision of health insurance, or seats on the governing board of investment banks. In fairness, maybe their real goal is government control of the means of production. But that system of economic organization effectively functions in the very same way, and has its own history of catastrophic failure.
Americans, it turns out, are genetically opposed to socialism. So we stood up because we did not know what else to do.
And they ignored us.
No one really paid much mind of Mary Rakovich outside the Harborside Center in Ft. Meyers on February 10, 2009, protesting against the federal government's desire to spend a trillion dollars in borrowed money to "stimulate" the economy. But Mary and thousands like her soldiered on, knowing that impossible odds were no excuse for letting our unique heritage of liberty pass on without a fight. As if Sam Adams and the Sons of Liberty were goading them into action from the pages of history, more and more citizens took to the streets in peaceful protest.
This uprising became harder and harder not to notice, and like the last dinosaurs watching icebergs drifting past, the political establishment finally took note of the Tea Party.
And then they ridiculed us.
Leftist bloggers, liberal Nobel Laureates and Democratic apparatchiks all joined in, calling us phony, fake, “Astroturf.” They called us tea-baggers, a juvenile pejorative eventually employed by President Obama himself. Speaker Pelosi called us “un-American.”
The Tea Party was now a full-blown uprising that had knowingly embraced a unique heritage as a free people obligated, willing and able to take to the streets in peaceful protest against oppressive government. It had happened in Boston Harbor on December 16th, 1773, and now it was happening again, all over America. The Tea Party ethos was a uniquely American mandate from our founders, a personal responsibility to check government power and to ensure "the preservation of the sacred fire of liberty." February's lonely and ignored voices were multiplying and connecting with each other, in town squares, at Book Club and online on Facebook and Ning. The Tea Party had become a nascent movement capable of turning out growing crowds of protestors. It was leaderless. No one was in charge. It was beautiful chaos, a spontaneous order built on voluntary association between neighbors with a personal knowledge of their families and communities and the core American values that bound them as a movement.
You already know the rest of this story. It is as Mahatma Gandhi once observed:
"First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win."
As 2010 comes to a close, we should all take a moment to reflect on this. We won. Against seemingly insurmountable odds, we won. As everyone predicted that we would lose, we won.
I am proud to have been a part of making history.
I am proud that all the staff at FreedomWorks was there at the very beginning. We were on the ground, training activists like Mary Rakovich long before the media acknowledged that there was a Tea Party. We were there at the starting line planning protests, joining in, and providing logistical, legal and technical support to any activist that wanted to stage their own event or plan their own protest.
I am proud that we took a big risk and had the foresight to raise resources and plan the logistics for the September 12th, 2009 Taxpayer March on Washington. In retrospect, that day amounted to a national coming out party for the Tea Party movement, the biggest mutual support group ever assembled. It was a magical moment. It was transformative. Every week, I hear another story from someone who was there protesting, for the first time, and is now leading some successful community organization, moving to Washington to work for the Congressman they helped elect, or even taking the oath of office themselves. That day, in front of the U.S. Capitol, a national social movement was born.
I am proud that FreedomWorks was one of the very first to endorse Marco Rubio of Florida in his efforts to defeat Charlie Crist. We did so before he was winning or even considered politically viable by conventional measures. We were the first to endorse Mike Lee of Utah in his insurgent Senate bid to defeat Republican appropriator-for-life Robert Bennett. These races were the beginning of what Dick Armey and I called a “hostile takeover” of the GOP. The Omnibus spending bill would have passed without these efforts. We had to beat the Republicans before we could beat the Democrats.
I am proud that we had a major hand in the November 2nd political tsunami. We insisted that candidates embrace the planks of the Contract FROM America, knowing that grassroots Americans would respond to candidates that boldly stood for something. In another innovation, our PAC served primarily as a service center for local networks of volunteers who wanted to put up yard signs, walk precincts or hand out literature but didn’t have the resources or legal structures to do so on their own.
I am most proud to be a member of this leaderless community of activists committed to taking America back. My wife Terry and I have protested and marched along with everyone else. We have drunk beer together, talked to hostile media together, walked neighborhoods to Get Out The Vote, and accomplished un-accomplishable goals, together.
I am proud of so many things that we helped accomplish, but success has created many new opportunities and challenges. There is little time to rest. Now WE must govern. WE, that is, as in We the People.
As we go into 2011, those that ignored us, ridiculed and attacked us are now predicting that Tea Party strength will wane. They hope that infighting will divide us; that such a decentralized movement cannot possibly pivot from GOTV activities to the complexities of the legislative process. The Tea Party cannot possibly govern, they say.
They wish it were so.
It is our job to prove them wrong. Again. At FreedomWorks, we have plans in place to do just that. I like our odds. Far more so than in 1995, the incoming freshman class is unified in what needs to get done. More important, this class has the backing of a powerful grassroots constituency in the Tea Party. This “inside/outside game” is historically unprecedented, and has the potential to beat the odds, and fundamentally shift the rules of the game when it comes to the politics of spending.
I know, I know. It’s a tall order. But remember where we started. Did you ever believe that we would come this far so fast in the battle to restore individual freedom and limited government?
As the Washington establishment struggles with the stark reality of the new political order, all eyes are on the massive class of incoming freshmen, totaling 85 House and 13 Senate Republicans. Of those, 69 will replace Democrats, representing a historic electoral rebuke of the Democratic Party. More meaningful and underreported is the quality and unity of purpose in this massive voting bloc. Almost to a person, they ran on job creation, restoring economic growth, repealing and replacing ObamaCare, and reining in deficit spending.
A vast majority signed, and won by campaigning on the Contract FROM America, the closest thing there is to a policy manifesto from the leaderless, decentralized Tea Party movement. Tim Scott from South Carolina, now a freshman representative on the House Republican leadership team, won in part by pointing out that his primary opponent had refused to sign on to the Tea Party's document. He will be working with at least 56 contract signers in the House. In the Senate, 12 victorious Republicans signed the Contract, representing the largest bloc of committed fiscal conservatives in our lifetimes. No such bloc existed in 1995, even though Republicans controlled the body. Mike Lee was the very first signer of the Contract, and fully embraced it in his insurgent campaign. Expect to see Lee, along with Marco Rubio, Rand Paul and their freshman colleagues make life uncomfortable for the tax, borrow and spend collegiality in the Senate.
This is the “inside game,” and we are wasting no time pivoting to address the new makeup of Congress. The week after the election, FreedomWorks Foundation organized a “Legislative Entrepreneur” gathering in Baltimore for the best of the recently elected freshman members from the House and Senate. The idea was to gather and focus this historic class before the Washington machine started dictating the rules of the game as they always attempt to do. Former Senate Leader Trent Lott accurately, if indelicately, called this dictating process “co-opting.”
Our retreat was in part to inoculate the freshmen from Beltway Fever. Dick Armey and I, along with other allies and staff, spent a productive two days with the group. Of course, the media got wind of the meeting and the Baltimore gathering became a major news story, helping to elevate the pull of the incoming legislators. Having had the opportunity to spend this time with the men and women who were elected under the Tea Party banner on November 2nd, I can tell you that the quality of character and commitment to principle is unprecedented in this massive freshman class. Without even having taken office yet, these freshmen have already pulled the entire legislative body in the right direction. The defeat of earmarks and the bloated Omnibus was just the beginning.
It is our job, of course, to prevent the co-opting process. But we also understand the challenges that new legislators face. How do you translate campaign promises into laws that work? How do you turn a good idea into effective legislative language? What are the best parliamentary tactics to stop a bad bill from moving on the floor? FreedomWorks is uniquely positioned to provide support and strategic insights to our most promising legislative entrepreneurs, because many of us have worked on the inside before.
We recently brought on Dean Clancy, a seasoned legislative counsel with twenty years of Capitol Hill and Executive branch experience to provide advice and technical support to any legislator who wants to tackle the repeal of ObamaCare and other entitlement reforms. These are not easy questions, and we want our champions to go into this new environment, famously hostile to good, innovative ideas, prepared to drive legislation from the right philosophical foundations.
Dr. Judy Shelton has also joined us to offer sophisticated advice from the “Austrian School” of economics on monetary policy, financial reform, and free market alternatives to bailouts. FreedomWorks Foundation, in partnership with the Atlas Economic Research Foundation, has just released Dr. Shelton’s “Guide to Sound Money,” making it available to legislators, staff and grassroots citizens alike.
But good ideas are never enough to win public policy debates. The right parliamentary tactics only get you so far. Ultimately, we know that good public policy will happen when America beats Washington, and grassroots citizens demand nothing less. With skilled legislators effectively pursuing good legislative initiatives, we need to ensure that they have the continued and growing support of a national constituency that will defend them and pressure their colleagues to join their efforts to cut spending, fix health care, and reform the tax code.
And should they slip up or get co-opted, we will be there to remind them who they really report to: We the People!
Because of a number of innovations from our grassroots team, we have seen an exponential growth in our online membership, our Facebook friends and Ning networks. This is also true of our relationships with tens of thousands of local community leaders, including Tea Partiers, Glenn Beck’s 9/12ers, Liberty Groups and countless other local manifestations of the grassroots freedom movement. Our new partnership with Glenn Beck has brought a whole new community of principled activists into the fold, recruiting, on average about one thousand new folks a day!
We work with all these activists as a service center based on the trader principle. We voluntarily join forces to achieve our mutual goals. But as this broad community gets more sophisticated and connected at the local level, our challenge is to continue adding value in that trader relationship.
A top down, hierarchical approach will not work in this new internet age, and undermines the potential power that comes from decentralization. This is true of the market, and it is equally true of grassroots organization circa 2011. Faithful to this spirit, right after the election FreedomWorks launched a new online community that is a mash-up of all of the functionality of Facebook, Ning, Twitter and Google Maps – all together in an easy to use format.
FreedomConnect is a major new social networking platform that takes decentralized coordination of local groups to a new level of sophistication. The soft launch was held in Columbus, Ohio with a gathering of leaders from 60 local groups from across the state (and others from West Virginia and Indiana). Many had not met before, and once they were introduced to FreedomConnect, they immediately started creating new groups and plans, including a statewide tax initiative battle and an Ohio Tea Party Convention.
Nationally, we will roll out FreedomConnect in February. Its genius is that it removes additional barriers to information and coordination by getting the middleman out of the middle. This freedom is a powerful tool. By the time this community is fully populated in 2012, it will make the once powerful online networking tools of Organizing for Obama look obsolete.
By connecting our legislative entrepreneurs inside with a growing constituency for freedom outside the Beltway, we plan to do things that, in the words of former Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, “we could not do before.” This will help us win immediate battles on spending and taxes, and the repeal of key components of ObamaCare. It will also build momentum for the big ideas that can save our country from its once inexorable march towards omnipotent government. Finally, it will grow and sustain a national community of freedom-loving citizens ready, willing and able to hold the President, Senators and Congressmen accountable on November 6, 2012.
And then we win.
Yours in Liberty,
President and CEO
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Santa came early this year. He arrived on December 16th, the 237th anniversary of the Boston Tea Party. And he was flying a Gadsden flag from the back of his sleigh. If you believe in fiscal responsibility and limited government, the defeat of the Omnibus spending bill – chockablock with a bloated stimulus baseline that ratchets up all spending, funding to implement ObamaCare, and over 6,600 earmarks – was the perfect present. It was a surprise gift, unexpected by everyone. Everyone, that is, save the men and women who now stand at the very center of Am
During the holiday season, we are often reminded to give to those that are less fortunate. This time of year, many of us reach into our own pockets to donate to charitable causes that we hold dear. Even in the face of tough economic times, Americans have shown that we are still generous with our hard-earned money. In 2009, Americans voluntarily gave an estimated $307.65 billion to private charities. A total of 57 billionaires have now joined the Giving Pledge to eventually give away at least half of their fortunes to charities of their choosing. It is praiseworthy for someone to voluntarily donate their money to assist a fellow man in need. But it’s wrong to reach into someone else’s pocket and force them to pay for a charity of your choosing.
Should charity be a function of the government? In 1887, the 22nd and 24th President of the United States Grover Cleveland vetoed an appropriation bill that included taxpayer funding for drought-stricken counties in Texas by saying:
The friendliness and charity of our countrymen can always be relied upon to relieve their fellow-citizens in misfortune. This has been repeatedly and quite lately demonstrated. Federal aid in such cases encourages the expectation of paternal care on the part of the Government and weakens the sturdiness of our national character, while it prevents the indulgence among our people of that kindly sentiment and conduct which strengthens the bonds of a common brotherhood.
Today, we have tons of government “charity” programs supposed to help the less fortunate. Nearly all of these programs do more harm than good. As we have seen, these programs lure people into long-term dependence on the federal government. Moreover, all of these programs are involuntarily funded by taxpayers. Is this true compassion? No, of course not. Grover Cleveland understood that coercion is not compassion. According to Future of Freedom Foundation President Jacob Hornberger,
The essence of human liberty was the right to help one's neighbor or not. If a person was not free to reject his neighbor (and God), then he could not be considered truly free. And Cleveland knew that if compassion was to mean anything, it must come only from the willing heart of the individual. Thus, for government to force someone to share with his neighbor was considered a denigration of both liberty and morality.
Unfortunately, some politicians portray themselves as caring since they favor expanding mandatory government “charities.” It is not kind to spend other people’s money on causes that they might not personally value. As Jacob Hornberger says, “in other words, kindness among Americans is now reflected by the willingness of the IRS to seize their incomes and of government officials to send that money to the needy.”
Here’s a thought exercise from the video below. Imagine a friend and you are approached on the street by a needy man in your community. You gladly offer him assistance by reaching into your own pocket and giving him as much money as you can afford. Your friend does not offer any money. What would you do? You may try to persuade him to donate. But most of us would feel immoral to steal money from a friend against their will to give to another person. If that is the case, why do we allow the government to do this for us? As Ayn Rand said, “Do not ever say that the desire to ‘do good’ by force is a good motive.”
In 1981, economics Professor Walter Williams said "you may win your way into office and retain that office essentially by promising some Americans that you will give them the fruits of another man's labor.” But with the growing influence of the Tea Party movement, more Americans want government that takes away less. Once upon a time, communities used to be the ones who cared for the needs of their people through voluntary and peaceful action. Just imagine how much more we could donate to the needy if the federal government would stop confiscating so much of our paychecks. This holiday season, let’s put more faith in our fellow Americans that they will choose to do the right thing.
During the holiday season, we are often reminded to give to those that are less fortunate. This time of year, many of us reach into our own pockets to donate to charitable causes that we hold dear. Even in the face of tough economic times, Americans have shown that we are still generous with our hard-earned money. In 2009, Americans voluntarily gave an estimated $307.65 billion to private charities.
While Republican leaders in the Congress are celebrating the tax deal forged with the White House as a victory, some of the party’s top presidential contenders, keen to appeal to the ultra-conservative Republican base, have attacked the agreement.
The split pits established lawmakers such as Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell against Tea Party favourites like Sarah Palin, who tweeted that President Barack Obama was “so very, very wrong on the economy” after the deal was announced.
Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who is expected to make a bid for the Republican presidential nomination, lamented this week that the deal only temporarily cut taxes, provided little certainty to business and broke the Republican pledge to cut spending.
Even as Democrats continue to wring their hands over the tax deal, which defies a campaign promise by Mr Obama by extending Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, many conservative Republicans complain that the deal violates promises party leaders made before November’s congressional elections. Their biggest gripe is that Democrats have sneakily created a second stimulus package with more than $50bn in unemployment benefit extensions that are not offset by spending cuts. Some also see the agreement as reviving the so-called “death tax”, an inheritance tax that – to the outrage of many Democrats – was slashed for the richest American families in Mr Obama’s deal. The activists want to see the tax eliminated.
The fissure raises questions about how Republican lawmakers will navigate future budget fights, which will require them to make concessions to the Democratic-controlled Senate and the White House while not ignoring an active party base that demands policies reflecting pure conservative ideology.
An expected vote early next year to raise the federal debt ceiling and other spending measures could be the first big test of how far future House Speaker John Boehner and Mr McConnell are willing to go to appease elements of their party that want to see deep budget cuts.
Tea Party-backed lawmakers, such as Senator Jim DeMint, have become more influential since November’s election. But the tax negotiation showed the party leaders were still not ready to take a hardline stance against a compromise with Democrats – as Mr DeMint suggested – and risk being blamed for an increase in taxes next year. Mr DeMint wanted to hold off on a deal until Republicans were in control of the House next year.
For now, there are relatively few defections in the Republican camp, with not more than 30 Republicans in the House expected to vote against the deal.
One, Mike Pence, another possible presidential nominee, said on Wednesday: “Despite the fact that last November the American people did not vote for more deficits, more stimulus or more uncertainty in the tax code, that’s just what this lame duck Congress is about to give them.”
That stance will appeal to enraged Tea Party activists on the right.
“The idea that this massive tax and spend bill has not yet even been written but may be voted on by the Senate . . . is appalling, and has rightfully drawn the anger of Tea Party activists, an anger that will not be diminished,” said a blog posting by the Tea Party Patriots group.
RedState.com, another conservative blog, blasted the inclusion of – and Republican support for – ethanol subsidies in the tax bill. “If Republicans lack the will to strike out at the heart of the dependency and welfare state after a stunning electoral victory, then when will they?” it said.
Others activists, including Dick Armey’s FreedomWorks, accept the established Republican stance that the deal was a huge victory for Republicans in a lame duck session where Democrats still technically held the majority of votes.
“All these other issues about the deficit – that is what the incoming congress has been elected to do. Is this stimulus? I don’t look at it as stimulus. We are dodging a huge, huge bullet in taxes,” said Adam Brandon, spokesman for FreedomWorks.
“This is not the place to tactically manoeuvre. I think we – the small government conservatives – rolled the President. Let’s take our victory”.
While Republican leaders in the Congress are celebrating the tax deal forged with the White House as a victory, some of the party’s top presidential contenders, keen to appeal to the ultra-conservative Republican base, have attacked the agreement.The split pits established lawmakers such as Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell against Tea Party favourites like Sarah Palin, who tweeted that President Barack Obama was “so very, very wrong on the economy” after the deal was announced.
An influential Tea Party group is urging Congress to hold votes in January to repeal healthcare reform in its entirety, according to a confidential memo to congressional Republicans.
The FreedomWorks memo, obtained by The Hill, outlines a strategy that starts with holding a vote in January to repeal the entire law. The group, headed by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas), said Congress should then hold repeal votes on certain provisions of the law, such as the individual mandate.
“Repeal is achievable, possibly sooner than many expect, because the American people clearly want and expect repeal, and because the law is vulnerable to effective repeal,” the memo said.
FreedomWorks claimed the reform law is vulnerable because public support for repeal has increased since the midterm elections; the law’s structure makes it immune to repair but vulnerable to repeal; fiscal realities make the law an “irresistible” source of offsets for deficit reduction; 60 percent of the states are challenging it; and the Supreme Court may rule it unconstitutional.
The group identifies four reform provisions it believes have bipartisan support: the individual mandate, 1099 reporting requirements, a bill allowing Americans to keep the private health insurance the way it is and a bill that lets states opt of out Medicaid eligibility expansion. FreedomWorks also thinks it has time on its side, writing that 70 percent of the law’s spending doesn’t begin until 2014.
FreedomWorks said it would have more in the coming months on a strategy to replace the reform law with “a set of patient-centered” bills.
An influential Tea Party group is urging Congress to hold votes in January to repeal healthcare reform in its entirety, according to a confidential memo to congressional Republicans.The FreedomWorks memo, obtained by The Hill, outlines a strategy that starts with holding a vote in January to repeal the entire law. The group, headed by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas), said Congress should then hold repeal votes on certain provisions of the law, such as the individual mandate.
The incoming House speaker rode a Tea Party wave into the majority, but a debt-limit vote as early as next month could cost him their backing. Benjamin Sarlin on the battle that can’t come soon enough for Democrats.
Rep. John Boehner owes no small part of his imminent promotion to the speaker’s office to the Tea Party, whose support he courted early and often en route to a landslide takeover of the House. But he may lose that support before he’s even begun to wield his new power.
The movement scored one of its first major substantive victories this week, rallying Republican lawmakers against a $1.3 trillion stimulus over its inclusion of $8 billion worth of earmarks—many of which they had proposed themselves. That surprise success means the new Congress will have to work out its budget quickly upon arrival, setting up immediate fights with a White House ready to go to war to protect health-care funding and head off any spending cuts that could undermine the economic stimulus package it negotiated as part of this month’s tax compromise. Expectations will be sky high for the new majority to slash the budget, and Republicans’ relatively modest proposals in their Pledge to America may not be enough to cut it with the activist base, many of whom were critical of its limited scope.
“Tea Partiers and small-government conservatives expect to see major legislative action right away next year,” Matt Kibbe, president of FreedomWorks, said in an email. “Make no mistake, the new Congressional Freshman Class was elected to control and reduce the size and scope of government.”
The coming vote on the debt limit promises to be even more contentious. The federal government will run out of money early next year unless more borrowing is authorized, and even the most extreme budget slashing proposals out there will still means deficits for at least the medium term. A failure to pass the bill could spark a financial crisis, shut down the government, and turn big business against the GOP, making it a must-pass measure. But it’s also a bill that’s easy to demagogue, as the many Republicans who attacked incumbent Democrats for their votes on increasing the debt limit on the campaign trail discovered this year. The Republican caucus voted unanimously against the last increase in the debt ceiling, and a number have already signaled they won’t authorize another once they’re in the majority. After two years of heated rhetoric on the issue, Boehner is already warning conservatives to cool it.
“This is going to be probably the first really big adult moment for the new Republican majority,” Boehner told The New Yorker in a recent interview. “You can underline ‘adult.’ And for people who’ve never been in politics it’s going to be one of those growing moments. It’s going to be difficult, I’m certainly well aware of that. But we’ll have to find a way to help educate members and help people understand the serious problem that would exist if we didn’t do it.”
Kibbe said the House in January has to prove immediately that it is serious about spending—for example, by joining Sarah Palin in embracing Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) Social Security- and Medicare-slashing budget plan—if it wants to keep the Tea Party’s support through the vote.
“If nothing is done on the part of the newly elected members of Congress and the first major vote is raising the debt limit, that would be unacceptable,” he told The Daily Beast. “If conservatives make any kind of concessions, there will have to be proof by legislation passed that this situation is not going to happen again. A budget would have to be drafted that is substantially smaller than previous years.”
Many liberal commentators were upset with the White House for not including an increase of the debt ceiling in its tax compromise, but some Democratic lawmakers are giddy at the prospect of forcing Republicans to share responsibility for the deficit. Harry Reid said recently that he wanted the GOP to finally have a “buy-in on the debt.” Many believe Democrats will be on more favorable ground politically than during the Obama-McConnell compromise, unrestrained by the time limit of a lame duck session and able to slam Republicans as deficit hypocrites for their recent support of more than $800 billion in budget-busting tax breaks.
“You don’t want to let them off the hook; it would be a favor to the Republicans they have not earned,” Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) said of the debt-limit fight. “The majority party has some responsibilities, and I think they should have to confront the unreality of what they have committed themselves to.”
Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) said Democrats should use the moment as a “leverage point” to demand concessions in exchange for their debt limit votes while Boehner squirmed to corral his own members.
“The come-to-Jesus vote in the House of Representatives is going to be the debt limit,” he said. “Right now you have people prancing around saying, ‘I’m going to cut, I’m going to cut, I’m going to cut...and I’m not going to raise the debt limit.’ OK, fine.”
Some moderate Republicans have raised the notion that the wave of incoming conservative lawmakers might move to the center in the majority.
“In almost every instance, responsibility to govern brings about change in attitude,” Sen. Bob Bennett (R-UT), who lost his party’s backing in favor of a Tea Party candidate this year, told The Daily Beast in a recent interview.
And even Amy Kremer, president of the influential Tea Party Express, suggested that there may indeed be more room for compromise with the movement than some expect. “We understand that Democrats still control the White House and the Senate,” she said.
Benjamin Sarlin is the Washington correspondent for The Daily Beast and edits the site's politics blog, Beltway Beast. He previously covered New York City politics for The New York Sun and has worked for talkingpointsmemo.com.
The incoming House speaker rode a Tea Party wave into the majority, but a debt-limit vote as early as next month could cost him their backing. Benjamin Sarlin on the battle that can’t come soon enough for Democrats.Rep. John Boehner owes no small part of his imminent promotion to the speaker’s office to the Tea Party, whose support he courted early and often en route to a landslide takeover of the House. But he may lose that support before he’s even begun to wield his new power.
The new Congress hasn't been seated yet but signs of a rift are already beginning to emerge between Republican leaders and Tea Party groups who were a driving force propelling many unknown candidates to victory last month.
From the tax cuts extension bill to the food safety legislation to Republican selections for key House committee leadership posts, Tea Party leaders have expressed outrage at what they perceive is a continuation of the same old Washington-style politics.
"In addition to the 'backroom deal' tax compromise, last week, through their appointments to chairmanships of the Energy and Commerce and the Appropriations committees, they [House Republican leaders] sent a clear message that despite an electoral victory driven by the Tea Party movement and fueled by public disgust with incumbents, Washington is back to business as usual," Tea Party Patriots founders Jenny Beth Martin and Mark Meckler wrote in a scathing op-ed in Politico.
The Tea Party dissent on tax cuts was clear in the House, where the movement's supporters like Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn. -- founder of the Tea Party caucus -- voted against the bill. Sen.-elect Rand Paul of Kentucky said he would lean against voting for it if he were in office, while Tea Party darling Sarah Palin called it a "lousy deal."
The Tea Party's discontent, however, hasn't gone unnoticed. As they were assailed on the tax cuts front, the GOP leadership quickly distanced themselves from the 1,924-page, $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill filled with $8.3 billion worth of earmarks. Many Republicans initially supported the bill and were in fact responsible themselves for many of the earmarks, including the top two pork projects.
"On the omnibus bill, [Senate majority leader] Harry Reid didn't have the votes and I think that's a testament to the strength and the power of the movement," Amy Kremer, chairwoman of the Tea Party Express, a critical player in the 2010 midterm elections, told ABC News. "The Tea Party movement is alive and well and it's still engaged and we're going to hold these people's feet to the power."
With the new Congress yet to be seated, it remains unclear how closely the Republican leadership can align their interests with that of the Tea Party movement.
But it is clear that the GOP leadership may have to shrug off some of its traditional ways of doing business.
Pressured partly by the Tea Party, many Republican lawmakers have already disavowed earmarks, saying they won't put any pork projects in bills even though they could lose millions for projects in their home districts and states.
"It's going to be a question of how seriously does the Republican leadership take the power base that's now taking their seats in Congress in January," Meckler told ABC News. "If they take it seriously and if they govern according to the mandate that the American people have given them, then I think it'll be fine. If they don't, then you're going to see a lot of in-fighting. You're going to see freshmen who are putting up a serious fight and ultimately you will see a bit more house cleaning in 2012."
The Tea Party movement emerged as a powerful force in the 2010 election cycle, helping elect members of Congress across the country, from Tim Scott in South Carolina to Mike Lee in Utah. Even though the election is over, leaders of the Tea Party movement say their work is not yet done.
"We are their probation officers," Kremer said of newly elected members of Congress.
"We've heard these people talk the talk for the past 12 months or however long during campaign season while they were running for office," Kremer said. "Now it is their time to walk the walk and we want to see it happen. And if they don't do what they said they were going to do we will remember in 2012, and it's not that far away."
In fact, preparations for 2012 have already begun in earnest. Red State's Erick Erickson published a list of potential Tea Party targets in 2012 on his popular blog. The conservative blogger advises his readers to not get all giddy about people like Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, or Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., who hail from moderate states, but instead target more middle-of-the-road Republicans like Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah "as we have a much greater certainty of both beating them in primaries and also winning the general election."
There is still a lot of "house cleaning" to be done in 2012, Meckler warns.
"We don't consider this to be an electoral cycle movement. This is a long-term approach to taking the country back to its founding principles. We expect it will take us a long time to clean up the mess," he told ABC News.
FreedomWorks, an umbrella organization for Tea Party groups, launched www.StopPorkSpending.com where people can monitor their senators' and representatives' votes on spending bills.
Tea Party Patriots is planning to launch next year an index rating of how members of Congress voted, in an effort to continue serving as the "watchdog" for the American people, Meckler said.
The new Congress hasn't been seated yet but signs of a rift are already beginning to emerge between Republican leaders and Tea Party groups who were a driving force propelling many unknown candidates to victory last month. From the tax cuts extension bill to the food safety legislation to Republican selections for key House committee leadership posts, Tea Party leaders have expressed outrage at what they perceive is a continuation of the same old Washington-style politics.
Mark your calendars!
Please join FreedomWorks North Carolina State Director Allen Page at a FreedomWorks North Carolina Legislative Issues Briefing near you. The briefings will also feature Becki Gray, Vice President of Outreach, John Locke Foundation and Kathy Hartkopf, Legislative Liaison, FreedomWorks North Carolina.
These important briefings are a great opportunity for you to meet FreedomWorks North Carolina staff and receive essential updates on our goals for 2011 at the local, state, and federal level. Everyone is probably aware of the big job we have ahead of us on the federal level as we work to repeal ObamaCare and stop the spending, but FreedomWorks North Carolina has some big jobs ahead at the state level as well.
For the first time in over half a century, Republicans have control of the state legislature. We need to be ready to hold them accountable and make sure the limited government promises that were made on the campaign trail are brought to fruition.
We also want to hear what is going on in your communities and how FreedomWorks North Carolina can help you fight for lower taxes, less government, and more freedom.
Help us kick off the New Year on the right foot - please consider attending one of the North Carolina State Legislative Issues Briefings listed below.
2914 Sandy Ridge RD #H
Colfax, NC 27235
RSVP: Joyce Krawiec, 336-817-4601
1108 East Dixon Blvd
Shelby, NC 28152
RSVP: Cindy Daugherty, 704-473-6882
498 Harrison Av
RSVP: Don Swanson, 828-524-2960
425 Smokey Park Hwy.
Asheville, NC 28806
RSVP: Bill Lack 828-253-5709
Box Car Grille
3103 Taylorsville Hwy
Statesville, NC 28625
RSVP: Hal Jolly, 704-592-7521
Petro Iron Skillet
500 Buckhorn Rd
Mebane, NC 27302
RSVP: Roy Loflin, 919-563-6137
400 Hotel Dr
New Bern, NC 28562
RSVP: Jennifer Alcock, 252-635-3265
Cox Family Restaurant
4109 Arendell St
Morehead City, NC 28557
RSVP:Judy Wilgus, 252-354-3081
921 North Wesleyan Blvd.
Rocky Mount, NC 27804
RSVP:Charlene Moore, 252-908-5758
139 Millers Chapel Rd
Goldsboro, NC 27534
RSVP:Ann Sullivan, 919-734-1218
I hope that you can make one of these important meetings. These are also a good time to bring a friend who needs to get plugged in to the liberty movement.
Mark your calendars!
In a democracy the politician must favorably influence the majority of their voting constituents. In all political decisions the politician calculates how many votes are gained by voting money spent on an interest group versus how many votes are lost.
In the regular session, Congress failed to establish 11 spending bills. Then in a lame duck session they concocted a $1.2 spending extravaganza that would normally seduce the votes of power-lusting politicians. This arrogance exemplifies total contempt for every American taxpayer. Kimberley Strassel of the Wall Street Journal describes:
This week Democrats unveiled a $1.2 trillion omnibus, legislation as pure an insult to the electorate as it gets. It was a 1,924-page monstrosity that nobody had time to read. It took 11 spending bills that Democrats couldn't be bothered to pass individually and crammed them into one oozing ball of pork and bad policy, going beyond even the obscene budget of 2010.
Yet to this legislative Frankenstein Democrats carefully attached the spenders' equivalent of crack cocaine. To wit, omnibus author and Hawaii Democrat Daniel Inouye dug up earmark requests that Senate Republicans had made in the past year (prior to their self-imposed ban) and, unasked, included them in the bill. He lavished special, generous attention—$1 billion worth of it—on some reliable GOP earmark junkies: Mississippi's Thad Cochran got $512 million; Utah's Bob Bennett, $226 million; Maine's Susan Collins, $114 million; Missouri's Kit Bond, $102 million; Ohio's George Voinovich, $98 million; and Alaska's Lisa Murkowski, $80 million.
Larry Kudlow appreciates the gigantic transformation of philosophy and governance:
On a historic night this past Thursday, a new tea party Republican Congress completely transformed U.S. economic policy. Elections matter, and so do their ideas. Smaller government, low taxes and less spending were key election themes in the Republican landslide. And those themes triumphed this week as a large tax-cut bill finally passed the House and a monstrosity of a spending bill was defeated in the Senate.
Kudlow correctly analyzes the shift to smaller government, low taxes and less spending. However, this gigantic shift only resulted because the America voters forced the politicians to stop spending. Politicians love their positions of power and when their voting constituents strongly object politicians fear them.
This is what FreedomWorks did to cause Senators’ to fear losing their positions of powers:
Democratic leadership deliberately submitted the 2,000-page Omnibus bill at the last minute, tried to cast the legislation as “must pass” and hoped all the pork could be slipped in without prolonged scrutiny.
We quickly launched our attack against the bill from all fronts, targeting key Senate Republicans and Democrats. We sent action alert emails to our entire grassroots network of more than 700,000 activists and updates through our half-a-million strong Facebook page. We set up a “Stop the $1 Trillion Pork Bill” action page, where activists could type in their zip code to make calls to their senators and urge them to oppose the bill. We distributed a Key Vote Notice to every senator, released “Ten Reasons to Oppose the Omnibus” and taped a podcast describing all the pork barrel spending in the bill. We also launched a phone mobilization campaign, directly connecting key activists to their members of Congress. In the 12 hours before Reid pulled the bill, we logged over 1,000 calls to Senators Collins, Nelson (NE), McCaskill, Casey, Webb, Nelson (FL), Brown and Manchin.
Remember all politicians count votes. FreedomWorks and thousands of Americans stopped a horrific $1.2trillion spending disaster because Republican and Democratic Senators know America wants smaller government and more freedom. Now knowing Americans are aware of the politicians’ votes, they fear losing their positions of power. Recently, these Senators saw many politicians defeated for over spending. They didn’t change their philosophy. Angry Americans made them change their misuse of Americans’ money.
Democracy and Power 107: Counting votes In a democracy the politician must favorably influence the majority of their voting constituents. In all political decisions the politician calculates how many votes are gained by voting money spent on an interest group versus how many votes are lost.
Government, in its last analysis, is organized force. – Woodrow Wilson
Madison trumps Pelosi – so far
“This is not an indefinite government
deriving its powers from the general terms
prefixed to the specified powers—
but, a limited government tied down
to the specified powers,
which explain and define the general terms.”
Speech in Congress,
February 6, 1792
James Madison was well-read and learned in political philosophy. As America floundered under the Articles of Confederation, Madison specifically educated himself on alternative forms of governance. Subsequently, he was the intellectual and political force creating the Constitution of the United States.
Fearing the tyranny of government, Madison advocated for a defined and limited government dedicated to the preservation of individual liberty. Nearly 40 years after creating the Constitution, Madison continued to fear the misuse of the overwhelming power of government. In a speech to Viriginia State Convention in 1829-1830, Madison said: The essence of Government is power; power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse.
Then compare the scholarly and knowledgeable Madison to the current Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, as CNS News reported on the constitutionality of ObamaCare:
CNSNews.com: “Madam Speaker, where specifically does the Constitution grant Congress the authority to enact an individual health insurance mandate?”
Pelosi: “Are you serious? Are you serious?"
CNSNews.com: “Yes, yes I am."
Pelosi then shook her head before taking a question from another reporter. Later, her press spokesman, Nadeam Elshami, said: …“You can put this on the record,” said Elshami. “That is not a serious question. That is not a serious question.”
Recently, a federal judge has considered the Constitutionality of ObamaCare. The Wall Street Journal reports:
…, Judge Henry Hudson declared that ObamaCare's core enforcement mechanism known as the individual mandate…exceeds Congress's authority to regulate the lives of Americans.
"The unchecked expansion of congressional power to the limits suggested by the Minimum Essential Coverage Provision [the individual mandate] would invite unbridled exercise of federal police powers," Judge Hudson writes. "At its core, this dispute is not simply about regulating the business of insurance—or crafting a scheme of universal health insurance coverage—it's about an individual's right to choose to participate."
At this moment, at least one Federal judge has ruled Pelosi, Reid, Obama and their minions have violated he restrictions of The Constitution of the United States. This ruling is merely the intellectual and factual pronouncement of one judge, which upholds James Madison’s Constitution of limited and enumerated powers.
Beware, all institutions incrementally abuse their power, including the judiciary. The Supreme Court has become increasingly political. Today, most Supreme Court observers anticipate four justices in favor of expanding the power of Congress and four opposed. Justice Kennedy is the unknown. The final ruling will be one of the most important in the 220 years history of the Supreme Court. As Judge Hudson stated: “-- it's about an individual's right to choose to participate."
Do we have freedom to choose not to participate in the government mandated insurance scheme or do Pelosi, Reid, Obama and their underling, using the coercive power of government, force us to comply?
Democracy and Power 101: Government is power Government, in its last analysis, is organized force. – Woodrow Wilson Madison trumps Pelosi – so far
It's not everyday that we get to see the hard work of free market researchers and analysts demonstrated so vividly. That's why this post is so special. Because, on the very same day that the Mackinac Center for Public Policy published this paper on the striking relationship between smuggling and cigarette taxes, we have this story about a man caught trafficking 193 untaxed cartons of cigarettes.
Like holly and ivy, taxes and smuggling tend to go hand in hand - so it's not surprising to note that this smuggling case comes from the great and broke state of New York, where they have the highest cigarette taxes in the country.
As we get ready to head into state budget crisis time in the New Year, this is a good time to remind our state legislators that cigarette tax hikes are clearly not the be-all, end-all they love to make them. The Mackinac Center study does a great job of laying out an unintended consequence of cigarette tax hikes we often don't get into here at FreedomWorks: crime. Here are a few examples:
- financing a terrorist organization;
- thefts of untaxed cigarettes, including truck hijackings;
- thefts of state tax stamps;
- counterfeiting of tax stamps;[§]
- property damage;
- counterfeiting of name-brand cigarettes, which are replaced with adulterated products, including counterfeit cigarettes from China; and
- violence against residents and police officers.
These societal costs are frequently borne by innocent people. This, together with the authors' cigarette smuggling estimates, suggests that state policymakers should reassess the value of cigarette taxes as a revenue and public health tool.
And on top of this, you still have the fact that cigarette tax hikes are extremely poor fiscal policy and they hurt small businesses.
Not that we expect these dire facts to make any difference in the coming months. When state lawmakers convene again inevitably smokers will be the first they shakedown to try to fill ever-increasing budget gaps.
It's not everyday that we get to see the hard work of free market researchers and analysts demonstrated so vividly. That's why this post is so special. Because, on the very same day that the Mackinac Center for Public Policy published this paper on the striking relationship between smuggling and cigarette taxes, we have this story about a man caught trafficking 193 untaxed cartons of cigarettes.