Let’s Have a Tea Party

tea party congress“We have changed our assumption on this [the long-term rating of U.S. Treasuries] because the majority of Republicans in Congress continue to resist any measure that would raise revenues, a position we believe Congress reinforced by passing the act [raising the debt ceiling].” -page 4 of S&P report down- grading U.S. Treasuries to AA+

Michele Bachmann and her Tea Party followers have reacted to the S&P downgrade on August 5 by blaming the President for “poor leadership” regarding the passage of the debt ceiling law and the downgrade. But in truth, they have no one to blame but themselves. And the rest of us will suffer because of their stupidity and intransigence. Check your stock portfolio.

S&P’s initial comment in their Report, which most people have focused on, is as follows:
“…we believe that the prolonged controversy over raising the statutory debt ceiling and the related fiscal policy debate indicates that further near-term progress containing the growth in public spending, especially on entitlements, or on reaching an agreement on raising revenues is less likely than we previously assumed and will remain a contentious and fitful process.”

But page 4 of the text of the S&P Report places almost all the blame on the Republicans’ resistance to “any measure that would raise revenues”. So stop the spin, Teabaggers.

The “Grand Bargain” that President Obama apparently reached with House Speaker John Boehner would have raised revenues and cut entitlements, resulting in $4 trillion in long-term debt reduction. But Boehner, after checking with his Tea Party brethren in the House, realized that he would likely be removed as Speaker by his Republican House colleagues if he pushed ahead with this, clearing the way for the ambitious Eric Cantor, the Majority Leader, to replace him. This Grand Bargain most likely would have satisfied S&P, and the downgrade would not have happened.

But it did, and the stock market has tanked, and the Tea Party Republicans bear most of the responsibility for this financial debacle. There are 56 Republicans in the House who are formally part of the Tea Party Caucus (and a number of others who are closet sympathizers), and 27 voted for the debt ceiling increase last week, while 29 voted against it. Those 29, not satisfied with Boehner’s statement that “I got 98% of what I wanted”, were still unhappy because there was not a balanced budget amendment in the legislation, and because Social Security and Medicare were not gutted. These people are very extreme right-wingers, in a Republican Party today almost entirely consisting of far right ideologues, and it would be instructive to see who they are.

Here are the Republicans voting “No” on the debt ceiling bill (if a Tea Party member, it is so indicated) who appear to be most vulnerable in the 2012 election, where every House member in the nation will be running in newly drawn districts:

  • Michele Bachmann, (6th District, Minnesota) – the queen of the Teabaggers, and the possible Republican Vice Presidential candidate, if the nominee of the party pulls a Dan Quayle. She graduated from Oral Roberts Law School (what?), and practiced law as a tax attorney for the IRS, and is in her 3rd term in Congress from north of Minneapolis, with 53% of the vote in 2010. Her office number is 202-225-2331, her Twitter is “michelebachmann”; her website is: www.Bachmann.house.gov.
  • Martha Roby (2nd Dist., AL) – in her first term, she won in 2010 with 51% of the vote. An attorney from the Montgomery area, her office number is 202-225-2901, her Twitter is “repmartharoby” and her website is: www.roby.house.gov.
  • Ben Quayle (3rd Dist., AZ) – in his first term, winning 59% of the vote, he is the son of master speller Dan Quayle, and got notoriety in the 2010 election by calling Barack Obama “the worst President in American history”. An attorney and small business owner from Phoenix, he richly deserves the shortest term as a congressman in American history. If you want to tell him what you think of him, call 202-225-3361, Twitter him at: “bquayle”, and his website is: www.quayle.house.gov.
  • David Schweikert (5th Dist., AZ) – in his first term, he won with 52% of the vote, and is a real estate broker from Scottsdale. His D.C. office number is 202-225-2190, his Twitter is: “repdavid”, and his website is: www.schweikert.house.gov.
  • Tom McClintock (4th Dist., CA) – in his second term, with 61% of the vote in 2010. A public policy analyst from northeast of Sacramento and a refugee from Southern California, he is a Tea Partier; his D.C. office number is 202-225-2511; his Twitter is: “repmcclintock”, and his website is: www.mcclintock.house.gov.
  • Scott Tipton (3rd Dist., CO) – in his first term, winning barely 50% of the vote, he represents rural western Colorado, with district offices in Grand Junction, Alamosa and Pueblo, and is a pottery store owner. His D.C office number is 202-225-4761, his Twitter is: “scotttipton” and his website is: www.tipton.house.gov.
  • Doug Lamborn (5th Dist., CO) – in his 3rd term, with 66% of the vote in 2010, he is a Tea Partier from Ft. Collins, an attorney, and his D.C. office number is 202-225-4422, and his website is: www.lamborn.house.gov.
  • Dennis Ross (12th Dist., FL) – he is a Tea Partier from Lakeland in his first term, winning a bare 48% of the vote. His D.C. office number is 202-225-1252, his Twitter is: “repdennisross” And his website is: www.dennisross.house.gov.
  • Steve Southerland (2nd Dist., FL) – he is in his first term, winning 54% of the vote, and is a funeral home director from Panama City. His D.C. office number is 202-225-5235, his Twitter is: “rep_southerland”, and his website is: www.southerland.house.gov.
  • Austin Scott (8th Dist., GA) – he is in his first term, winning 53% of the vote, and is an insurance broker from the Macon area. His D.C. office number is 202-225-6531, Twitter: ”austinscottga08”, and his website is: www.austinscott.house.gov.
  • Paul Broun (10th Dist., GA) – he is a family doctor, a Tea Partier from the Athens area, and in his third term, winning 67% of the vote in 2010. His D.C. office number is: 202-225-4101, Twitter: “reppaulbrounmd”, and his website is: www.broun.house.gov.
  • Lynn Westmoreland (3rd Dist., GA) – he is a Tea Partier, and a builder from the area southwest of Atlanta in his third term, winning 69% of the vote in 2010. His D.C. office number is: 202-225-5901, and his website is: www.westmoreland.house.gov.
  • Raul Labrador (1st Dist., ID) – he is in his first term, winning 51% of the vote, from a Western Idaho district. An attorney and a Mormon, his D.C. office number is 202-225-6611, and his website is: www.labrador.house.gov.
  • Joe Walsh (8th Dist., IL) – he is in his first term, winning only 48% of the vote, is a Tea Partier, and has the dual baggage of being an investment banker and a deadbeat dad, way behind on his child support. If you want to tell him what you think of him, call his D.C. office at 202-225-3711, or Twitter him at “repjoewalsh”, website: www.walsh.house.gov.
  • Dan Burton (5th Dist., IN) – He is in his 15th term, winning in 2010 with 62% of the vote, is a Tea Partier, an Indianapolis insurance and real estate agent, and his D.C. office is 202-225-2276, Twitter: “repdanburton”, and website:www.burton.house.gov.
  • Steve King (5th Dist., IA) – he is in his fifth term, winning 66% of the vote in 2010. A loyal Tea Partier and one of its most vocal blowhards, he is an “earthmoving contractor” from Western Iowa. His D.C. office number is 202-225-4426, Twitter: “stevekingia”, and his website is: www.steveking.house.gov.
  • Tim Huelskamp (1st Dist., KS) – he is in his first term, winning 74% of the vote, and a Tea Party farmer and rancher from “What’s the Matter With Kansas? western Kansas. His D.C. office number is 202-2715, Twitter: “timhuelskamp”, and website: www.huelskamp.house.gov.
  • Jeff Landry (3rd Dist., LA) – he is in his first term, winning 64% of the vote, is a Tea Partier from Cajun country south of New Orleans, and a business owner and attorney. His D.C. office is 202-225-4031, Twitter: “repjefflandry” and website: www.landry.house.gov.
  • Justin Amash (3rd Dist., MI) – In his first term, winning 60% of the vote, he is an attorney and businessman from the Grand Rapids area. His D.C. office number is: 202-225-3831, Twitter: “repjustinamash”, and website: www.amash.house.gov.
  • Chip Cravaack (8th Dist., MN) – A Tea Partier in his first term, winning just 48% of the vote, he is a military officer and airline pilot from the Duluth area of northeast Minnesota. His D.C office number is: 202-225-6211, Twitter: “repchipcravaack”, and website: www.cravaack.house.gov.
  • Vicky Hartzler (4th Dist., MO) – she is a first termer winning just 50% of the vote, a Tea Partier, and a farmer and business owner from the Jefferson City area in mid-Missouri. Her office number is: 202-225-2376, Twitter: “rephartzler” and website: www.hartzler.house.gov.
  • Anne Marie Buerkle (25th Dist., NY) – A first termer, winning just 50% of the vote, she is a nurse and attorney from the Rochester-Syracuse area. Her office number is: 202-225-3701, Twitter: “repbuerkle”, and website: www.buerkle.house.gov.
  • Tim Scott (1st Dist., SC) – a black Tea Party first termer winning 65% of the vote, he is an insurance agency owner and financial analyst from the Charleston area. His D.C. office number is: 202-225-3176, Twitter: “reptimscott”, and website: www.timscott.house.gov.
  • Joe Wilson (2nd Dist., SC) – In his sixth term, winning 53% of the vote in 2010, he is an attorney from Beaufort, and the Tea Partier who shouted “You lie!” to President Obama during his State of the Union speech. His D.C. office number is 202-225-2452, Twitter: “congjoewilson”, and website: www.joewilson.house.gov.
  • Chuck Fleishmann (3rd Dist., TN) – he is a first termer winning 57% of the vote, and an attorney from the Chattanooga area. His D.C. number is: 202-225-3271, Twitter: “repchuck”, and website: www.fleishmann.house.gov.
  • Louie Gohmert (1st Dist., TX) – a fourth termer, winning in 2010 with 90% of the vote, and almost undefeatable despite giving the appearance of being one of the dumbest persons in Congress, he is a Tea Partier and an attorney and judge (!) from East Texas. His D.C. number is 202-225-3035, no Twitter (of course), and website: www.gohmert.house.gov.
  • Ron Paul (14th Dist., TX) – he is the former Libertarian, 12-term father of the Tea Party (and of Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky), who is retiring next year to concentrate on his Presidential run. A physician, he favors legalizing pot and getting out of Iraq and Afghanistan, and he drives the rest of the Republicans crazy. If you want to wish him well, call his D.C. office is 202-225-2831, Twitter: “repronpaul”, and website: www.house.gov/paul.
  • Jason Chaffetz (3rd Dist., UT) – a second termer winning 72% of the vote in 2010, he is a Mormon business owner from the Provo area. His D.C. office number: 202-225-7751, Twitter: “jasoninthehouse” and website: www.chaffetz.house.gov.
  • Morgan Griffith (9th Dist., VA) – he is a first termer winning just 51% of the vote, and an attorney from the far west of Virginia. His D.C. office number: 202-225-3861; Twitter: “repmgriffith”, website: www.morgangriffith.house.gov.

Not covered in this list are the six Teabaggers in the U.S. Senate who voted against the debt ceiling law: Jim DeMint (SC), Mike Lee (UT), Tom Coburn (OK), Rand Paul (KY), Mario Rubio (FL), and Pat Toomey (PA). Also not included are a group of first term Tea Party House members who were scared into voting for the law: Rick Nugent (67% of the vote), Allen West (54%), Sandy Adams (60%) and Daniel Webster (56%, defeating Alan Grayson) from Florida, Robert Dold (51%) from Illinois, Diane Black (67%) from Tennessee, and Blake Farenthold (48%) from Texas.

So there they are: the rogues gallery of venal, dare-I-say “un-American” Republican members of Congress who could not even find it in themselves to vote for the debt ceiling law that got Republican Speaker Boehner 98% of what he wanted. Boehner needed 95 Democratic (dare-I-say “pro-American”) votes to pass the legislation to avoid the default on our national debt.

Many of these same Teabaggers also voted for passage of Rep. Paul Ryan’s Republican budget this year that would have gutted the Social Security and Medicare “entitlements” many of us find comforting in our old age after a lifetime of hard work. These “entitlements” were paid for by up to nearly 16% of every dollar we earned during our lifetime, and should not be allowed to be dismantled by right wing zealots beholden to Wall Street and the health insurance companies. And thankfully, many Democrats in Congress and President Obama did not allow this to happen.

Yes, 95 Democratic House members and a minority of Democratic Senators also voted against the debt ceiling bill, but this was primarily because the deal reached did not include any revenue increases, but only cut future government expenditures.

Teabaggers, look at what has happened this past week in England – get rid of entitlements and you have rioting in the streets fomented by the unemployed youths who have been pushed down through England’s safety net. Do you want this in your districts? Keep up your un-American activities and you may find out. Are you really interested in turning America’s democracy into an oligarchy, where there are a few super-rich and the rest of the population is the poor masses? Do you remember what happened in Russia in 1917, Republican czars?

ted vaillWho is to say that the Grover Nordquist pledge that most of you Teabaggers took – never, never to vote for a tax or revenue increase – does not violate your oath of office when you became a Member of Congress and swore to protect and defend your country and to obey the Constitution of the United States, including Section 4 of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution. Were you questioning the public debt of the United States with your vote on the debt ceiling law, in circumstances where failure to pass the law would have resulted in the default of that debt?

Think very carefully about what you do next…

Ted Vaill

Ted Vaill is a second term delegate to the California Democratic Convention for the 41st Assembly District, elected on the Progressive slate. He is a lawyer who has practiced in LA for over 40 years.

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