Correct me if I am wrong but wasn’t fiscal responsibility a mainstay position of those Tea Party backed candidates that ran for office in 2010? Moreover, weren’t those same Tea Party backed candidates who won in 2010 supposed to go to Washington and put a stop to “business as usual”? If I am not mistaken I recall these very candidates, who now comprise the incoming freshman class of the 112th Congress, as saying: “It’s going to be a new day in Washington.” Well as the old saying goes:” There’s many a slip between the cup and the lip”. That certainly seems to be the case when we examine the growing disparity between what these Tea Party backed candidates said on the hustings and their present behavior in Washington as they prepare to take office. It seems to me that it didn’t take too much of a transition from heartland to capitol before these very reformers found their way to that ever enticing ingredient of politics: Money!
According to Dan Eggen of the Washington Post: “After winning election with an anti-Washington battle cry, Francisco Canseco and other incoming Republican freshmen have rapidly embraced the capital’s culture of big-money fundraisers, according to new campaign-finance reports and other records… Dozens of freshmen lawmakers have held receptions at Capitol Hill bistros and corporate townhouses in recent weeks, taking money from K Street lobbyists and other powerbrokers within days of their victories. Newly elected House members have raised at least $2 million since the election, according to preliminary Federal Election Commission records filed last week, and many more contributions have yet to be tallied.” Moreover, Nancy Watzman of the Sunlight Foundation observed: “It’s particularly interesting when so many of this year’s freshmen were running against Washington. But as soon as they get elected, they come to Washington and put out their hand.” Take for instance Robert Hurt who defeated Tom Perriello and ran a campaign opposed to “union and special interest money”. Since coming to set up shop in Washington, Congressman Hurt has already accepted $600,000.00 according to the Federal Election Commission.
Then there is that old chestnut, earmarks. Didn’t the Tea Party backed candidates make such a big stink about earmarks while they were campaigning? Weren’t they all in favor of making the moratorium on earmarks permanent? Well as it turns out, not really. You see, thanks to some research by Citizens Against Government Waste, fifty-two members of the Congressional Tea Party Caucus amassed $1,049,783,150 spread between 764 earmarks. Thus so much for cutting federal spending being a cornerstone of Tea Party principles.
According to Doug Mainwaring of the National Capitol Tea Party Patriots and a critic of the national media’s coverage of the movement, the Tea Party Movement can be distilled into the following principles:” fiscal responsibility, constitutionally limited government and free markets. This threefold purpose is the only solid foundation for grasping the Tea Party movement.” Thus based on what we are now observing among the incoming congressional class there is much cause for concern as to whether or not these principles will be adhered to once the newly elected become ensconced within the Beltway. After all, just how much fiscal responsibility can one have if he or she is already onto the payola being doled out on K Street. Likewise, just how “free” will the markets be when all manner of interests come calling on Capitol Hill looking for payback for the debts that they helped retire? Thus at this early date it seems to me that the stated goal of “taking the country back” may just have resulted in some new players getting a piece of the action while at the same time the cherished principles of the Tea Party Movement are becoming the first casualties of the 112th Congress. So much for the Tea Party Movement as an engine of political change in the age of Obama.
Steven J. Gulitti