Tea Party groups divided over government shutdown

Matthew Boyle Investigative Reporter
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The threat of a potential government shutdown as a result of the ongoing congressional continuing resolution (CR) battle has the leaders of the nation’s different Tea Party activist groups split. The CR would fund the federal government until Sept. 30, the end of the current fiscal year, because the Congress never passed a 2011 budget.

Tea Party Nation founder Judson Phillips says shut the government down until Washington gets the message not to overspend taxpayer dollars.

“Our national debt is now as large as our national income. Something has to give,” Phillips said in a release. “Shutting down the government is pretty radical but lesser ideas are not going anywhere right now, so why not?”

Phillips said the reason former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s 1995 attempt to use the same tactic failed was because the media at that time were all on the side of the Democrats. Phillips said former president Bill Clinton actually created the 1995 shutdown of government, but the media attacked Gingrich because journalists are all left-leaning.

“Those were the days when the left still had a media monopoly,” Phillips said. “That no longer exists. There is Fox News, and Internet sites such as Tea Party Nation and World Net Daily.”

Tea Party Express Chairman Amy Kremer, on the other hand, says Congress shouldn’t move so quickly to shut the government down because it didn’t work out so well for the GOP in 1995. She said Democrats should be willing to make cuts to wasteful government spending too, and that elected leaders from both parties were sent to Washington to get things done for their districts and states, not shut the government down.

“Look, there are some really difficult decisions to be made and that’s why these people have been sent to Washington,” Kremer said. “They’re going to have to make some tough decisions. But, look, it didn’t work very well when Newt Gingrich shut the government down 15 years ago.”

Kremer said Congress and President Barack Obama should “stop playing politics” and learn that “you cannot spend your way out of debt.”

Wayne Brough, FreedomWorks’s chief economist, aligns with Kremer in terms of whether a government shutdown would be desirable. He said it’s FreedomWorks’s goal to get the president to negotiate on budget cuts and “see where the center of American politics really is right now.”

“Ideally, we wouldn’t want to see a shutdown,” Brough told TheDC. “I don’t think there has to be a shutdown and that we can’t work something out. But, if it happens, the shutdown doesn’t mean everything stops.”