Tea Party Responds to Obama: We Won’t Stop Protesting

In his State of the Union response, Sen. Mike Lee tells Americans his group is ready to protest bad policy in 2014 — again, on its own.

National Journal
Brian Resnick and Marina Koren
Add to Briefcase
Brian Resnick and Marina Koren
Jan. 28, 2014, 5:51 p.m.
“Obama­care — all by it­self — is an in­equal­ity Godz­illa”

The rift between es­tab­lish­ment Re­pub­lic­ans and tea parti­ers has been grow­ing stead­ily since the gov­ern­ment shut­down last fall. In his re­sponse to the State of the Uni­on ad­dress, Sen. Mike Lee may have stretched it a little bit wider.

“I’d like to speak es­pe­cially to those Amer­ic­ans who may feel they have been for­got­ten by both polit­ic­al parties,” said Lee, be­fore carving out the tea party’s con­gres­sion­al agenda for 2014.

The sen­at­or fol­lowed the Re­pub­lic­an Party’s of­fi­cial re­but­tal from Rep. Cathy Mc­Mor­ris Rodgers — which struck a more har­mo­ni­ous tone — il­lus­trat­ing the GOP’s grow­ing di­vide. “The Re­pub­lic­an es­tab­lish­ment in Wash­ing­ton can be just as out-of-touch as the Demo­crat­ic Es­tab­lish­ment,” Lee said.

The bulk of Lee’s re­sponse fo­cused on the center­piece of Obama’s own re­marks, in­come in­equal­ity, al­beit with a very dif­fer­ent fla­vor. “Where does this new in­equal­ity come from? From gov­ern­ment,” Lee said, later call­ing the health care law “an in­equal­ity Godz­illa that has robbed work­ing fam­il­ies of their in­sur­ance, their doc­tors, their wages, and their jobs.”

Lee lis­ted sev­er­al pieces of forth­com­ing Re­pub­lic­an-penned le­gis­la­tion on in­come in­equal­ity, in­clud­ing his own bill that would sim­pli­fy the tax code.

He didn’t dir­ectly men­tion the gov­ern­ment shut­down, which has been at­trib­uted to tea-party push­back against Obama­care, but un­apo­lo­get­ic­ally hin­ted at it: “Un­for­tu­nately, in re­cent years, we have had no choice but to en­gage in a num­ber of protests against our cur­rent pres­id­ent’s Wash­ing­ton-centered agenda.”

“Protest­ing against dys­func­tion­al gov­ern­ment is a great Amer­ic­an tra­di­tion,” Lee said, and the tea party’s policy fights — against Obama, Demo­crats and oth­er Re­pub­lic­ans — sound far from over. Lee likened the group to the ori­gin­al Tea Party, the big loud one in Bo­ston, as be­ing cru­cial for change. But some­times com­prom­ise is key. “As Amer­ic­ans we must al­ways be will­ing to fight the Bo­ston-type battles — boldly call­ing out bad policy whenev­er we see it — but we must do so with an eye to­ward Phil­adelphia, main­tain­ing a pos­it­ive fo­cus on the kind of na­tion we want to be and be­come,” he said.

Such “protests,” however, have chipped away at the tea party’s pub­lic im­age. Pew noted in an Oc­to­ber poll that just 53 per­cent of Re­pub­lic­ans see the tea party fa­vor­ably, while 27 per­cent hold an un­fa­vor­able view. Among tea parti­ers, Sen. Ted Cruz’s fa­vor­ab­il­ity rat­ing was at 74 per­cent at the height of the shut­down crisis in Oc­to­ber. Among non-tea-party Re­pub­lic­ans, that num­ber was 25 per­cent.

The sen­at­or’s re­marks don’t just set this year’s agenda for the tea party — they out­line a plan for its mem­bers ahead of midterm elec­tions, too. His words on com­prom­ise are likely aimed at House tea parti­ers, re­mind­ing them to hold onto their seats in the GOP-con­trolled House. And his re­marks about protest­ing “bad policy” are aimed at out­side can­did­ates, push­ing them to get ag­gress­ive in their Sen­ate cam­paigns. For tea parti­ers, 2014 is about wrangling power back from Demo­crats in the Sen­ate.

What We're Following See More »
BOON TO PROSECUTORS
SCOTUS Rules that Insider Trading Can’t Be “Gifted”
10 hours ago
THE DETAILS

In a unanimous decision, "the Supreme Court on Tuesday said it violates insider-trading laws for a corporate officer to make a “gift” of insider information to a relative, a decision that makes it easier for those who police Wall Street to bring prosecutions."

Source:
EFFORT LIKELY TO DIE IN COMMITTEE
Jordan Can’t Force a Floor Vote on Impeaching Koskinen
11 hours ago
THE LATEST
House Freedom Caucus Chairman Jim Jordan attempted to force a floor vote on impeaching IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, but "the House voted overwhelmingly to refer it to the Judiciary Committee. ... The committee will not be required to take up the resolution." Earlier, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi "made a motion to table the resolution, which the House voted against by a 180-235 margin, mostly along party lines."
Source:
AFTER THE VOTE FOR SPEAKER
Ryan: No Committee Assignments Until New Year
16 hours ago
THE DETAILS

House Speaker Paul Ryan has decreed that House members "won’t receive their committee assignments until January — after they cast a public vote on the House floor for speaker. "The move has sparked behind-the-scenes grumbling from a handful of Ryan critics, who say the delay allows him and the Speaker-aligned Steering Committee to dole out committee assignments based on political loyalty rather than merit or expertise." The roll call to elect the speaker is set for Jan. 3, the first vote of the new Congress.

Source:
EXPECTED TO FUND THE GOVERNMENT THROUGH SPRING
Funding Bill To Be Released Tuesday
1 days ago
THE LATEST

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy told reporters on Monday that the government funding bill will be released on Tuesday. The bill is the last piece of legislation Congress needs to pass before leaving for the year and is expected to fund the government through the spring. The exact time date the bill would fund the government through is unclear, though it is expected to be in April or May.

Source:
IT’S OFFICIAL
Trump to Nominate Carson to Lead HUD
1 days ago
THE LATEST

As has been rumored for a week, Donald Trump will nominate Ben Carson, his former rival, to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development. In a statement, Trump said, "We have talked at length about my urban renewal agenda and our message of economic revival, very much including our inner cities. Ben shares my optimism about the future of our country and is part of ensuring that this is a Presidency representing all Americans. He is a tough competitor and never gives up."

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login