Thursday marked the 237th anniversary of the original Boston Tea Party, when American colonists boarded a British ship and dumped more than 300 chests of tea into Boston Harbor to protest a government unrepresentative of the people. As the Republican “old guard” lines up to defend President Barack Obama’s “tax compromise” deal, partisans on both sides of the aisle are decorating the bill with Christmas tree provisions that look suspiciously like discredited earmarks — and taxes on tea.
Like those early revolutionaries, the tea party of today looks on tax deals and big government regulations with the same suspicion.
When analyzing anything proposed by Congress, it’s a useful exercise to examine who is in the “for” and “against” camps. In the case of the recently proposed “tax compromise” deal, such an analysis yields results that are particularly telling, especially for those who believe in the tea party principles of fiscal responsibility. More accurately, with a price tag approaching $1 trillion, this deal should be known as the “Trillion-Dollar Travesty.”
It’s important to remember that this deal was negotiated in private, behind closed doors — but between whom? We’re not exactly sure, but we know Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and Obama were involved. This is the same McConnell who had to be shamed into supporting an earmark ban in the Senate. And this is the same president who has proposed and helped pass much legislation contrary to the expressed will of the American people, leading to the largest deficit in world history, high unemployment and a desperately stagnant economy. A bill spearheaded by this dynamic duo should not provide anyone with confidence that this legislation is good for the people.
So who else supports this deal? The GOP old guard certainly does.
First on this list is Karl Rove, who opposed Ronald Reagan in the 1976 and 1980 campaigns. His advocacy group, Crossroads GPS, announced their first major post-election expenditure Tuesday — a $400,000 radio ad campaign in 12 districts across the country, urging House Democrats to call for a vote on, and support, the tax cut package.
And again we have McConnell, friend of earmarks, who supports the deal and says he appreciates the “determined efforts” of Obama and the Republicans on the compromise. Apparently, Earmark Mitch likes the pork in there, including nearly $5 billion in subsidies for things such as corn-based ethanol, grants for wind and solar power, commuter tax breaks, tax preferences for NASCAR operators and subsidies for Virgin Islands rum. Perhaps McConnell sees this bill as revenge for being forced by the tea party to repudiate earmarks.
Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), of course a stalwart conservative (we say in jest), is a supporter of the deal and said she was “encouraged” by the compromise as well as its extension of unemployment benefits. This alone should sound the alarm bells.
Speaker-designate John Boehner (R-Ohio), in a dismal performance Sunday on “60 Minutes,” was stumping for the deal and trying to say that he’s finding “common ground,” but that it’s not “compromise.” The proposed “common ground” bill (which will reportedly reach almost 2,000 pages) includes a partial reinstatement of the death tax, billions in unfunded deficit spending — and he’s pitching it with a straight face to the American people. He’s not Speaker yet, and he’s already sold us out.
Rep. Eric Cantor (Va.), who waved the white flag fresh out of negotiations, has stated, “No one gets all they want in any compromise, and it certainly isn’t perfect.” He’s certainly right there. This is the same man who said that when repealing Obamacare we need to keep the “good stuff,” such as allowing 26-year-old “children” to stay on their parents’ insurance policies.
According to news reports, the leadership expects 15 to 20 Republicans to break ranks. So far, we’ve been able to identify Reps. John Campbell (Calif.), Darrell Issa (Calif.), Mike Pence (Ind.), Michele Bachmann (Minn.), Jeff Flake (Ariz.), Jason Chaffetz (Utah) and Joe Barton (Texas). They’re now forced once again to buck their “leadership” and do the principled thing. This deal, made behind closed doors in the dead of night, reminds us of why we got involved in the health care debate and why the tea party rose up in opposition.
The Washington establishment on both sides of the aisle has simply lost its way. They are sent to Congress to be representatives of the people they are supposed to be serving. Selling the American people down the river with more spending of money we don’t have is not acceptable.
Whether or not Congress remembers the country’s history, the tea party does — and we are watching.
Get it right or get out of the way, old guard.
Mark Meckler and Jenny Beth Martin are co-founders of the Tea Party Patriots, a national grass-roots organization with more than 3,000 affiliated local groups.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., carries a musket on stage as he speaks during the American Conservative Union's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Md., on Thursday March 6, 2014.