Tea Party on Government Reform



Limited role for government; not solution to every problem

Michael Grimm, a newly elected Republican [with] Tea Party ties, had been in law enforcement and dealt with Wall Street corruption. I was sure he would appreciate the importance of having a watchdog like our consumer agency. But when I launched into an enthusiastic description, he cut me off so he could make one thing clear: He didn't believe in government.

Sure, I understood the basic point that government plays a limited role in a lot of people's lives and that government isn't the solution to every problem. But someday I hoped to get a chance to ask him: Would you rather fly in an airplane WITHOUT the FAA checking air traffic control? Would you rather swallow a pill WITHOUT the FDA testing drug safety? Would you rather fight our fires WITHOUT our firefighters?

But I wasn't a member of Congress & he was. And the Tea Party had just helped dozens of people like him make it into public office, all loudly committed to unraveling just about everything the federal government had ever built

Source: A Fighting Chance, by Elizabeth Warren, p.187-8 , Apr 22, 2014

True the Vote: like driving and seeing police following you

With the federal voting law, Massachusetts was finally mailing out half a million voter registration cards. In early August, Scott Brown issued a furious statement calling the state's mailing "outrageous."

Okay, people can laugh and say I'm hopelessly naive, but this issue is a direct shot at democracy. In many states, the Republicans have made voter suppression a regular part of their arsenal, chipping away at early voting. African American voting, Latino voting, immigrant voting, student voting, you-name-it voting. As the Tea Party-affiliated True the Vote campaign famously said, they wanted voting to become like "driving and seeing the police following you." I guess attacking my daughter for her involvement in an organization that was pushing states to help more people register to vote was just one more page out of their standard playbook.

Source: A Fighting Chance, by Elizabeth Warren, p.252 , Apr 22, 2014

Constitutionalism means the rules are reliable

One of the greatest contributions of the Tea Party movement is it has sparked a national conversation about the Constitution and our founding principles. Not everyone is excited to have this debate, however.

Critics have created various pejorative terms to criticize the Tea Party, such as accusing them of "constitutionalism." Complaining about constitutionalism in a constitutional republic is like complaining about "refereeism" at a football game. It is nonsensical. It is fine to root for one team, or one set of ideas and solutions, but it is foolish to make up the rules as you go along. That's really what the debate is about. Are the rules essentially fixed and reliable, or should one team be allowed to change them on a whim?

Source: The Debt Bomb, by Sen. Tom Coburn, p. 64-5 , Apr 17, 2012

Get state legislative "voice votes" on the record

When the old guard resisted change, I went to the people to make their voices heard. It turned out that all along, those people were the Tea Party. We hadn't formally found each other yet--they didn't even call themselves the Tea Party at the time--but they were the citizens who called the radio talk shows, wrote letters to the editor, and blasted e-mails to their friends & family to bring about change. Over time they would become my greatest friends and biggest supporters.

When I introduced my bill to get votes on the record, it was immediately and instinctively embraced by the Tea Party. As they got the word out, Democrats began to call me and ask to have their names put on the bill. Then Republicans did as well. The bill took on a life of its own. People across the state were calling their legislators to see if they supported the bill. I had legislators coming up to me in a panic saying, "Make sure my name is on the bill!" I fought alongside the Tea Party to get votes on the record.

Source: Can't Is Not an Option, by Gov. Nikki Haley, p. 72 , Apr 3, 2012

Government jobs (takers) replacing manufacturing (makers)

A family of 4, with 2 children at home, that makes less than $50,000 a year contributes no income taxes to support any functions of the federal government. And of those who do pay income taxes, an astonishing number of them now work for the government.

Today, a majority of Americans have no fiscal incentive to oppose income tax increases, because they don't pay them, and an astonishing number of Americans now have a fiscal incentive to grow the size and scope of government, because government is either their employer or their benefactor through government handouts. Such a situation is dangerous and unsustainable, and it must be rectified.

Source: Tea Party Patriots, by M.Meckler & J.B.Martin, p. 49 , Feb 14, 2012

Return to original four federal Departments

Government has now grown--far beyond anything ever imagined by the Founders--in its intrusiveness, size, and complexity. In 1789, the federal government consisted of only 3 cabinet-level departments: State, Treasury, and War (today called Defense). In addition, the chief legal authority under the executive branch was a cabinet member as of 1789.

Today, there are 14 cabinet-level departments, each of which has innumerable agencies, bureaus, programs, and administrators. The system has become a vast bureaucratic maze. Many Tea Partiers propose abolishing ALL cabinet-level departments of the US government other than State, Treasury, Defense, and Justice. Such a reorganization would have to take place over several years but would dramatically reduce the federal government.

Our two prime targets for immediate elimination are the Departments of Energy and Education. These are two recently added departments, which have been dismal failures.

Source: Tea Party Patriots, by M.Meckler & J.B.Martin, p. 53 , Feb 14, 2012

Earmarking is an odious practice, even if only a few billion

On the issue of earmarks, we didn't think that we would be starting by battling 2 Republican senators, but Mitch McConnell and James Inhofe initially came out in favor of this odious practice. They suggested that we just didn't "understand" the earmark issue. That if we would just listen to the wisdom of the Senate leadership, everything would be OK. After all, the amount of money earmarked was just a drop in the bucket--a mere $16 billion. So why did we even care about what amounted to a rounding error in the federal budget?

We explained that to those of us who work for a living, $16 billion sure sounded like a lot of money. So much, in fact, that it would cover the average American's mortgage payments for nearly 900,000 years.

At that point, the senators changed their tactics and tried to convince us that national security was at stake, and that without earmarks, the Defense Department wouldn't be able to defend the country.

Source: Tea Party Patriots, by M.Meckler & J.B.Martin, p. 70-71 , Feb 14, 2012

Interstate compacts are preferable to federal action

The Founders had a mechanism for allowing the states to control their own destinies: interstate compacts. An interstate compact is any agreement that's entered into between 2 or more states. These compacts are actually older than the US Constitution. There were 9 compacts in effect before the 13 colonies became the USA.

The Supreme Court now agrees that states may enter into compacts even without the approval of Congress, as long as they don't infringe upon an area over which the federal government clearly has supremacy. On issues as diverse as transportation infrastructure and environmental protection, we believe that rather than allowing the federal government to take over, states, working together, can better address these problems. The closer that decisions can be made to the people, the better those decisions will be.

We believe that an issue as large as health care is best addressed through interstate compacts. That's why we support the Health Care compact.

Source: Tea Party Patriots, by M.Meckler & J.B.Martin, p. 95-96 , Feb 14, 2012

2005 Kelo case revises the Fifth Amendment

Take the Supreme Court's revision of the Fifth Amendment in its 2005 decision on the case of Kelo v City of New London. The Constitution states: "No person shall. be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation."

In 1998, the city of New London, CT, seized the property of home owner Suzette Kelo for what it considered a "public purpose." Had that public purpose been to build a highway or a public school, the case would probably not have raised many eyebrows. Suzette Kelo's property, however, was seized and given to a private entity that claimed it would create more economic growth in the area than Kelo. (The land was ostensibly taken to build a hotel and offices to enhance the value of a campus for Pfizer Pharmaceuticals.) That's right--the government seized property from one private landowner and gave it to another. And the Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision, said that was OK.

Source: Tea Party Patriots, by M.Meckler & J.B.Martin, p.152 , Feb 14, 2012

The Repeal Amendment: 2/3 of states to overrule federal laws

Today, people within the Tea Party movement are proposing a way to restrain the Supreme Court. It's called the Repeal Amendment, and it would restore the balance of power between the states and the federal government.

The proposed wording according to the grassroots RepealAmendment.org: "Any provision of law or regulation of the US may be repealed by the several states, and such repeal shall be effective when the legislatures of 2/3 of the several states approve resolutions for this purpose that particularly describes the same provision of provisions of law or regulation to be repealed."

The 2/3 requirement prevents a simple majority from overriding the other states and ensures that only legislation that is opposed by the vast majority of citizens is overturned. Motivated by Tea Party activists, politicians are working to ensure the right of the states to overrule the Supreme Court when the Court rules a government action constitutional but a majority of citizens believe it is not.

Source: Tea Party Patriots, by M.Meckler & J.B.Martin, p.172-173 , Feb 14, 2012

We're gaining control of DC, but just getting started

During the debt ceiling debate, the media and liberal pundits began to wonder if the Tea Party was now in control of Washington. If only this were true.

Last year's ceiling debate in which so many critics said the Tea Party was now "running" Washington--well, that was only the beginning. It should be a surprise to no one that Washington remains stubbornly resistant to change. Despite much crowing about the "extremism" of Republican freshmen, conservatives haven't changed anything yet. But we are getting started.

At best, our current policies are merely slowing down our fast-approaching default. We are borrowing $40,000 per second. Entitlements and interest will consume the entire budget within a decade. The debt ceiling deal set spending caps that increase every year. My understanding of "cutting" spending is that you would spend less next year than you spent this year. Yet the debt ceiling caps still rise each year, revealing the lie that spending will be cut.

Source: Now Or Never, by Sen. Jim DeMint, p. xv-xvi , Jan 10, 2012

Restore constitutionally-limited government

A tour of Tea Party websites around the country quickly reveals widespread determination to restore 21st century US government to the Constitutional principles articulated by the 18th century Founding Fathers. In Nebraska, the Crawford Tea Party describes itself simply as "a group of concerned citizens who desire to see a restoration of Constitutional government." Tea Party groups across America link their present-day activities to a constantly restated reverence for the country's founding documents: the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence.

Constitutional reverence is not just in cyberspace. The US founding documents are woven into the warp and woof of Tea Party routines. Pocket-sized versions of the Constitution appear on merchandise tables at Tea Party meetings. "Constitution talk" bubbles through discussions in Tea Party gatherings. "Smaller government, the Constitution, and personal responsibility" are the Tea Party's core principles.

Source: The Remaking of Republican Conservatism, p. 48-49 , Jan 2, 2012

Insist on legislators actually reading bills before voting

Tea Party people do not defer to experts. Again and again, we heard Tea Partiers express derision about legislators who vote without reading every page and word in proposed legislation, as well as about federal officials who discuss measures they had not read. When asked if it was reasonable for a busy public figure to entrust the reading of a legal document to lawyers on his staff, we were told in no uncertain terms that this approach is inadequate. Without having read a document personally, Tea Partiers feel that a citizen or official cannot be sure of what it contains.

Tea Party skepticism about experts is part and parcel of their direct approach to democracy, their belief in citizen activism. To guard against possible bamboozlement, Tea Party members arm themselves for confrontations with their Representatives by reading particular bills themselves. For Tea Party activists, any hint that a legislator or expert has not personally read every line of a bill is a damning indictment.

Source: The Remaking of Republican Conservatism, p. 53-54 , Jan 2, 2012

Tea Party supports G.O.P.: Government Of the People

[The Tea Party has] a lot for "against." So what were we FOR? What constituted our positive vision of limited government? We were for lower taxes. We were for individuals making their own healthcare decisions. We were for freedom to reduce unemployment by not taxing job-creating businesspeople. We were for a constitutional vision of personal liberty. We were for standing up for our treasured allies. In other words, we needed GOP--Government Of the People. The American people are always the solution.
Source: Core of Conviction, by Michele Bachmann, p.185-186 , Nov 21, 2011

Invoke Boston Tea Party's anger against establishment

It is not enough to be fed up. We must act.

thousands of patriotic Americans have taken to the streets in protest--invoking the historic Boston Tea Party in the process. They are running for office and swarming the voting booths, sending shock waves from MA to HI. Their anger is directed against the establishment--that lumbering mass of old-guard politicians who do not understand that there is a quiet revolution taking place. And the shock waves are being felt on both sides of the political aisle.

Source: Fed Up!, by Gov. Rick Perry, p. 15-16 , Nov 15, 2010

Pressure Congress for moratorium on pork

Earmarks represent the wasteful spending that has most caught public interest of late and for good reason. While earmarks have been prevalent since the 16th Amendment opened the spigots of cash for Congress, they have never been as out of control as they are today.

Why do we care about $29 billion in earmarks when our national deficit this year will be around $1.5 trillion? Because earmarks corrupt the process and divert attention from the real task of governing and oversight.

A modest 1-year moratorium on earmarks, proposed in 2008, was defeated 29-71. However, due to pressure from the Tea Party movement and an extremely frustrated American public, the idea of a moratorium remains alive, and at least the House GOP voted as a conference in Mar. 2010 to adopt a moratorium. What legislators should do is adopt a moratorium on pork until the budget is actually balanced, but don't hold your breath. In fact, the GOP failed to mention earmarks in its "agenda" document released in the fall of 2010

Source: Fed Up!, by Gov. Rick Perry, p. 64-65 , Nov 15, 2010

Moratorium on all earmarks until budget is balanced

Source: Give Us Liberty, by Rep. Dick Armey, p.156-158 , Aug 17, 2010

Permanently repeal capital gains & death taxes

Source: Give Us Liberty, by Rep. Dick Armey, p.157-158 , Aug 17, 2010

Not about right-versus-left, but about big-versus-small

What is sending cold chills down the collective spine of the Washington political establishment is the now undeniable fact that the principle of limited government and fiscal responsibility have unprecedented political standing with the American electorate. There will be political consequences and those politicians out of step are losing their jobs.

Perhaps what challenges the movement's many critics is the fact that Tea Party does not buy into the traditional Left vs. Right debate. It is better framed as "big vs. small." It is a fundamental debate about the size and scope of government. Triggered by bailouts of irresponsible behavior on Wall Street, the Tea Party movement is first and foremost about fiscal responsibility--something that the political establishment across the Left-Right spectrum has failed to deliver. Trillion-dollar deficits and stimulus packages that only stimulate more deficit spending do not pass the commonsense test of kitchen-table economics.

Source: Give Us Liberty, by Rep. Dick Armey, p. 88-89 , Aug 17, 2010

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Page last updated: May 05, 2021