The Tea Party: Ready to Rumble

The Tea Party: Ready to Rumble

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The newly-emboldened tea party stood battle-ready on Capitol Hill this morning as members of Congress and tea party sympathizing members-elect rallied a thunderous crowd of supporters to demand that the lame-duck Congress do three things:  Extend the Bush tax cuts for everyone, eliminate a part of the health care reform law and then leave town!

“You know what I think they should do in Lame Duck?  Number one, make sure that taxes don’t go up on January 1 for anyone, number two repeal the burdensome 1099 regulations on businesses in the health bill…and go home!” said Rep.-elect Bob Gibbs, R-Ohio.  “That’s all they need to do, and they ought to finish that up by Thursday, don’t you think?  Then the real work starts in January.”

The words of wisdom didn’t end there, though.  The speakers, including veteran South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint, Indiana Rep. Mike Pence, and tea party leading lady Michele Bachmann, a Minnesota House member, implored Democrats not to use the session to try to sneak extra spending into larger bills. And they urged Republicans not to compromise on the Bush tax cuts or an earmark moratorium which the Senate will vote on tomorrow. 

“This lame-duck Congress is limping back into Washington D.C., hungry for more spending, more taxes, more deficits, more debt, and we are here to say no way,” Pence said.  “And for my fellow Republicans, there must be no compromise on preventing a tax increase on any American,” he added, garnering “No Compromise!” shouts from the crowd.

Republicans are demanding that the Bush-era tax cuts be permanently extended to all Americans, including the very rich. President Obama has proposed a permanent extension of the tax cuts to families making up to $250,000 a year and individuals making up to $200,000, while making the extension temporary for families and individuals making over those amounts.

DeMint called the newly elected  Republican members “bold” and expressed confidence that they along with more veteran members would shoot down more spending.  “If the Senate Republicans fail to pass a ban on earmarks tomorrow, obviously they have not gotten the message,” he said.  “But I’m optimistic they have.”

But Bachmann struck a more skeptical tone.” We are here to remind them in the waning hours, as the shadow falls on Speaker Pelosi’s gavel,” that we are watching them closely,” she said, referring to outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.  “How egregious it would be…that they would take it upon themselves to pass more legislation that would bankrupt the nation, that would increase taxes,” Bachmann said.

Bachmann, who founded the Congressional Tea Party caucus in July and has been known to make comments that send shock waves through both parties, abandoned her bid last week for the number four House leadership position.

“Bachmann’s quick exit from the leadership race signals that while the tea party may have seized control from the GOP establishment outside Washington, the powers that be still have, well, power in the halls of Congress,” The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza wrote yesterday.

Though that fourth-ranking leadership position will go to Texas  House member Jeb Hensarling—the leaderships’ original choice---Bachmann will have her hands full leading the newly-formed “Constitutional Conservatives Caucus” which she said has 60 (largely tea party) members. 

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