The Tea Party movement is fighting President Barack Obama for the hearts and souls of American voters. And it???s winning. Americans like the fact that they can protest, and they???re voting for candidates opposed to President Obama???s left-wing policies.
The President sent a budget to Congress last week that plans $3.8 trillion in spending and projects a $1.3 trillion debt for 2011. It does contain a temporary spending freeze, yet would do little to address the massive expansion of spending on entitlement programs. Also, Obama begged for bipartisanship, because he wants Republicans to go along with his liberal plans to radically expand the federal government and set up de facto federal control of private health care.
Meanwhile, the Tea Party movement held its first convention, in Nashville. The keynote speaker was former Alaska Governor and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. The Tea Party movement represents the anger many Americans have toward Washington. This fury is evident at rallies, town hall meetings and in the Senate special election of Republican Scott Brown in liberal Massachusetts. The Tea Party movement represents the idea that Americans can play defense against big government. A movement doesn???t have to have a comprehensive agenda to capture the hearts and minds of Americans.
???Jobs Bill??? A Test of Bipartisanship
Senate Democratic leaders are preparing legislation to supposedly fight unemployment, and may break down a comprehensive ???Jobs Bill??? into: a tax bill, a small business bill, a ???green energy??? bill and a transportation bill.
Republicans are demanding that the tax debate be separate from the spending debate on any jobs package. Since Democrats no longer have a filibuster-proof 60 votes in the Senate (Sen. Scott Brown is the 41st Republican), they need to work with the minority on any jobs package or it???s going to be difficult to pass a bill this year.
Meanwhile, Republicans are demanding action to address the death tax. The levy on valuable estates has been eliminated for this year, but will jump back to 55 percent for estates worth more than $1 million in 2011. Conservatives want the estate tax to be eliminated forever. Short of that, though, Congress should at least lower the tax to make sure that people aren???t being punished for dying. Senators Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) and Jon Kyl (R-AZ) have legislation to set the death tax rate at 35 percent and exempt all taxation on estates up to $5 million for an individual or $10 million for a couple.
Furthermore, the Senate might want to conduct hearings on the legislation, to avoid potential complains of secret deal making. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) hasn???t promised to schedule hearings, and this may lead to more calls for transparency in the Senate.
Don???t Ask, Don???t Tell
Even as Americans are concerned about preventing future terrorists from sneaking bombs onto commercial airplanes and winning the Global War on Terror, the Obama administration has decided that this is the time to change the Pentagon???s ???Don???t Ask, Don???t Tell??? policy to allow openly homosexuals to serve in the military. This is heavily opposed on Capitol Hill.
Rep. Buck McKeon (R-CA) expressed concern that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has pledged repeal, ???before your service chiefs have had an opportunity to conduct in-depth reviews on the impact??? a repeal could have a profound effect on military readiness. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) told the Pentagon brass last week that, ???at this moment of immense hardship for our armed forces, we should not be seeking to overturn??? the policy. The military has limited resources and political capitol. It should use these to get what it needs to protect the homeland and to win the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, instead of spending precious military resources on a controversial policy.
$1.9 Trillion Debt Limit Increase
Democratic leaders in the House have pulled another fast one on the American people. They???ve set up a ???self-executing??? parliamentary rule so that the $1.9 trillion debt limit increase will automatically pass, without a vote. If the House can pass a rule that allows a separate vote on so called Pay-As-You-Go (PAYGO) budgeting and then PAYGO passes, the massive increase in the debt limit would be allowed without a vote.
PAYGO budgeting rules allow for some fiscal restraint when considering costly legislation. Yet the left???s maneuver is controversial and unprecedented. Representative David Drier (R-CA) argued that this maneuver is win-win for liberal and moderate Democrats because the rule ???is designed as a tool to shield accountability.??? At a time when the President is claiming that he wants to slow federal spending, it is politically difficult for any member of Congress to support legislation to increase the amount of debt the U.S. can carry by almost $2 trillion.
The Tea Party movement is playing defense against President Obama???s tax hiking, expansion of the federal government and spending blitz. And taxpayers need all the defense we can get.