“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 »
In a release Tuesday afternoon, the White House announced that President Obama has commuted and/or reduced the sentences of another 111 convicted criminals, mostly convicted of drug possession or trafficking. About 35 were serving life sentences.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said Monday he'd now be willing to hold a hearing on Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland in a lame-duck session of Congress. While he said he wouldn't push for it, he said if "Hillary Clinton wins the White House, and a majority of senators convinced him to do so," he would soften his previous opposition.
We can call this the anti-Sherman-esque statement: If reelected, Marco Rubio ... might serve his whole term. Or he might not. The senator, who initially said he wouldn't run for a second term this year, now tells CNN that if reelected, he wouldn't necessarily serve all six years. “No one can make that commitment because you don’t know what the future is gonna hold in your life, personally or politically,” he said, before adding that he's prepared to make his Senate seat the last political office he ever holds.
Since Rodrigo Duterte took over as president of the Philippines in June, he has made a serious of controversial statements and launched a war on drugs that has led to nearly 2000 deaths. He called the US ambassador to the Philippines, Philip Goldberg, "a gay son of a bitch." Next week, President Obama will meet with President Duterte at the East Asia Summit in Laos, where he " will raise concerns about some of the recent statements from the president of the Philippines," according to White House Deputy National Security advisor Ben Rhodes.
The Convention of States Project, which seeks to force a constitutional convention under Article V of the Constitution, will hold a "dry run" in Colonial Williamsburg starting Sept. 21. "Several states have already followed the process in Article V to endorse the convention." Thirty-four are required to call an actual convention. "The dry run in Williamsburg is meant to show how one would work and focus on the changes and potential constitutional amendments that would be proposed."