It’s Not Just Tactics, Mr. Speaker

Jenny Beth Martin President, Tea Party Patriots
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“The issue with the Tea Party isn’t one of strategy. It’s not one of different vision … It’s a disagreement over tactics, from time to time,” said Speaker of the House John Boehner, on 60 Minutes Sunday night.

More than a year ago, Speaker Boehner took serious offense when conservative groups criticized a budget deal he favored. They had “lost all credibility… I don’t care what they do.” So irrelevant is the Tea Party movement that the Speaker took to 60 Minutes to complain about its criticism of him Sunday night.

The Speaker trivializes the differences that led to the biggest intraparty rebellion against a sitting Speaker since the Civil War. His first problem isn’t with outside groups, it’s his own GOP colleagues in the House. When one out of every ten takes the extraordinary step of standing before his colleagues and calling out the name of someone else for his job, he should realize he’s got a problem.

As for us, our opposition to his leadership centers on our belief that we do NOT, in fact, share visions and strategies.

For example, we oppose amnesty for illegal immigrants because we believe it would not be fair to the millions waiting in line to get into America legally, nor to the millions who already arrived legally after waiting in line. Amnesty rewards lawbreaking, and only serves to incentivize further lawbreaking.

The Speaker, on the other hand, dances to the tune of the Chamber of Commerce, whose members and supporters want cheaper labor, and are, consequently, major proponents of the kind of comprehensive amnesty legislation that passed the Senate in 2013 and which the Speaker clearly wanted to put on the floor of the House last year before Dave Brat’s stunning upset of the former Majority Leader put the kibosh on those plans.

Moreover, we seek a federal government that is actually smaller than the one we have now, not merely one that is smaller than the one Barack Obama would prefer. We note with disdain the Speaker’s willingness to sign off on budget and debt ceiling increase “deals” that appear to have been negotiated by Popeye’s J. Wellington Wimpy — he will gladly give the president a spending/debt ceiling increase now, in exchange for the promise of spending cuts to come Tuesday. And when Tuesday arrives, somehow the spending cuts never materialize.

Similarly, we seek the repeal of Obamacare because we believe it tramples the fundamental liberties guaranteed us by our Constitution, destroys patient choice, degrades the quality of health care delivered, increases costs, and will ultimately break the bank. The Speaker, on the other hand, seems perfectly content to tinker at the margins (1099 repeal? Medical device tax repeal?) secure in the knowledge that many of his major funders — the health insurance and pharmaceutical companies who support Obamacare because of its mandates, which lead to a massively growing client base, and, hence, increased profits — don’t actually want him to fight to repeal the legislation.

Here’s a test of the Speaker’s assertion that our differences are merely differences in degree, not kind: Why has he refused to lead his GOP Conference to vote in favor of the bill introduced by his colleague Ron DeSantis of Florida, which seeks to overturn the August 2013 OPM ruling granting generous employer subsidies to Members of Congress and their staffs for the purchase of health insurance through the Obamacare exchanges, in clear violation of the law? That legislation is a fundamental part of a strategy designed to raise the temperature inside the offices of the Democrat Members of Congress whose votes are needed to build the necessary majorities for repeal in both House and Senate; yet, given multiple opportunities to put the bill on the floor, he has refused to do so.

Finally, I would note one other difference with the Speaker’s view, specifically regarding his assertion that the Tea Party’s opposition is manufactured for fundraising purposes: Every dollar we raise is contributed voluntarily, by donors whose only interest is seeking to influence their government to tax less, spend less, and stop running up a massive debt. They seek little from the government other than to be left alone, and we have nothing to offer them other than our promise that we will use the resources they contribute to do the best job we can to achieve our shared vision of greater personal freedom, economic freedom, and a debt-free future.

Contrast that with the Speaker, who raises tens of millions of dollars in campaign contributions from people who seek favors from government in the form of contracts, grants, tax loopholes, and the various assorted tricks of Washington’s trade. They don’t give contributions so much as they offer tribute, and they often seek specific government action, either to advantage themselves or to cripple their competition, using our hard-earned tax dollars to create these deals.

The Tea Party movement exists to hold elected officials accountable; in the last six years, this scrutiny has made a lot of politicians uncomfortable. Mr. Boehner takes issue with our tactics; we have concerns with a GOP leadership that has all too often cut deals with the administration based on empty promises. Fresh off historic midterm wins, the Speaker whipped votes with the president in December to get the government funded through 2015. This was weeks after the Speaker warned the president he could “get burned” if he enacted executive amnesty.

Forgive our skepticism.