Joe Barton: I was Tea Party before Tea Party was cool

Texas Republican Rep. Joe Barton says he “was Tea Party when Tea Party wasn’t cool.”

Such a statement might seem odd coming from a 61-year-old Republican going on his 26th year representing Texas’ 6th district. Indeed, Barton at first glance would seem to be a member of the stodgy, insider establishment that the Tea Party has set itself against.

But Joe Barton is a lesson in contradictions.

One of the first to sign up for the Tea Party Caucus when Michele Bachmann suggested it, Barton told The Daily Caller that the values he has always held are in line with Tea Party values. “I think I was a Tea Party activist before there was a Tea Party,” he said.

Many would dispute the compatibility of those two positions, but Barton sees no contradiction.

“We, the Republicans, need the Tea Party, and the Tea Party needs Republicans,” he said laughing. “We’re kind of a mutual admiration society.”

Barton is hoping to capitalize on that compatibility — if Republicans take the House in November — to become the next chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee. While he currently is the ranking member on the committee, there are a couple of potential obstacles that stand in his path to committee chairman.

First, to do so would require a rule clarification, or a change, depending on whom you ask. A House Republican Conference rule states that no member may serve more than three terms as ranking member or chair of a committee. It does not specify if it is three terms as either ranking member or chair, or if it is three terms at each position. Barton has served one term as committee chair, and two terms as ranking member.

The other potential obstacle is that a new Republican majority would likely be more conservative than the current Republican minority. Wouldn’t a new Republican majority, composed of Tea Party candidates and others propelled to power on a wave of anti-incumbency and anti-insider sentiment, demand a change in Party leadership?

Barton says no.

“I think the Tea Party agenda is very much in tune with the Republican House agenda that leader Boehner has helped put together,” he said, citing the “Pledge to America.” Barton thinks Boehner would be an “effective Speaker,” one who would be able to “implement” the things that Tea Party candidates have made the basis of their campaigns: “lower taxes, less government, less spending, less regulation, less intrusion.”

By that same logic, Barton calls himself “ready to go as chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee.”

When asked what he would do as committee chair, he replies: “Well, keep in mind that we’ve got to win the majority first.”

“It’s not over till it’s over,” Barton insists. “We’re going to have to work real hard in the next month to make it happen.”

Speaking hypothetically, however, Barton is willing to open up on what he would like to see a Republican majority do. The first thing would be to repeal and replace the health care bill. His second priority is to “do aggressive oversight on the Obama administration, especially the Environmental Protection Agency.”

“I think their endangerment finding is flawed, and we’d look into that pretty aggressively,” he said, referring to a finding by the EPA regarding the health hazard posed by greenhouse gases.

  • Satchmo

    Right, Joe, because Tea Partiers believe that you should use the force of government to intervene in college football athletics. What a moron.

  • CK4RP

    Barton’s performance, while far from stellar, has been mediocre which, sadly, put’s him at the head of the class when compared with most of his congressional critter colleagues. BTW, ’twas another Texas congressman who was “Tea Party” before Tea Party was cool…

  • robb32

    ok, so you’re more Libertarian than Repube, Joe? How about ending the cash cow drug war, ending the prohibition on marijuana, eliminating the education dept, restructuring the energy dept to actually FIND domestic sources of energy rather than pushing paper… “cool” would that be?!

  • wallace1303

    I am a native TEXAN. I have lived in Texas for most of my 70+ years. (I have briefly lived in both DC and LA.) My Father held elected office for a decade and was a documented voice in state legislation. I am no stranger to Texas politics.
    In Texas a man’s word and a handshake is worth more than any piece of paper.
    I do not live in Joe Barton’s district, but I have listened to him speak on numerous occasions and the man has been true to his word in DC. Joe Barton was then and is now a strong voice for a smaller government and lower taxes.

    I wish I could be a member of ACORN so I could vote six times for Joe Barton.

  • Miguel Saavadera

    Great guy, however it is time to flush the political ‘elite’ … been there more that two terms, good bye!

    Prevent criminal behavior ~ ‘RE-elect no one.’

  • flyoverland

    Fellow TP-ers. I can attest that Rep. Barton was a stalwart in trying to fend off unnecessary regulation by the FDA for our industry. He was the only guy who jumped in to help the laser surgery industry. He deserves our support.

  • loudog

    Who knew that being an oil industry lapdog was Tea Party cool? Every Republican jump on the bandwagon until Tea Party means Republican. Never saw that coming.

    • PolyIndependent

      Teapartiers don’t mind being screwed daily by corporations. That’s called capitalism. It’s the government they don’t like getting screwed by. Apparently there’s a difference somewhere in there, even though I don’t see it. In my view, the government is just an extension of the corporations used for screwing us in a different way.

      • loudog

        Don’t anyone dare change a thing, that’s the American way, corporatocracy.

      • The_anniebanannie

        “That’s called capitalism.”

        Why don’t you just start your comments with, “HERE I AM AGAIN, SHOWING MY IGNORANCE!!! LOOK AT ME!!!”

        • PolyIndependent

          Why don’t you try actually making a counter argument instead of moronic put downs? You’re another one on this site that does nothing but go around and tell those of us that aren’t 100% behind everything/everyone with an (R) after their name that we’re idiots. Yet you can’t seem to formulate an actual opinion outside of “you’re dumb”. Grow up.

          • loudog

            People here pretend to be Tea Party anti-establishment intellectuals and then repeat everything they heard on Hannity and defend the party at all costs.

          • PolyIndependent


            People here pretend to be Tea Party anti-establishment intellectuals and then repeat everything they heard on Hannity and defend the party at all costs.

            My favorite thing on this site are the poster that yell about the “mindless democrats following in lock step the party line” and then in the next breath they call anyone that doesn’t support someone like O’Donnell a “marxist”. Complete idiocy. Site like this one, Daily Kos, NRO – they’re all about “hooray for our side”.

          • The_anniebanannie

            What’s to debate with you? Your comment is pure nonsense and it’s impossible to counter-argue with you. Getting screwed by corporations is capitalism? How utterly stupid! Then you go on to say the government is an extension of corporations, yet in the majority of your comments your kissing Obama’s a$$. Well, I hate to tell you this, but HE IS THE GOVERNMENT!!!

            If you don’t want somebody to point out the idiocy of your comments, then stop saying idiotic stuff! You tell others to grow up, yet you repeat the same old nonsense like the five y/o that’s just learning knock-knock jokes.

            As far as your little chitchat with dumbdog that follows this post, you’re both idiots. I’ve never followed the Tea Party line, didn’t support O’Donnell, don’t watch Hannity and don’t protect “anybody with an R behind their name”….but you just keep on repeating the same, old, tired, worn-out, broad-brushing accusations while marching in lockstep with the DNC and Kozkids in order to cover up your stupid comments.

          • loudog

            The best part is when you reference Obama like anyone is supposed to be affected by it. You’re very amusing.

          • loudog

            Then you end your rant about painting with a broad brush by painting with a broad brush! Perfect!

          • The_anniebanannie

            You really need to learn the definition of “broad-brushing”. I was specifically talking about you and polyester….unless you two make up a group?

    • rocco

      “Never saw that coming.”

      Said the pebble slinger with myopic vision.

    • clw

      You’re radiating TEA Party fear at gamma ray levels.