“Just voting ‘No’” isn’t what the Tea Party does


Yesterday, on Fox News Sunday,” former nine-term Republican Member of Congress Steve LaTourette from Ohio said several dozen Tea Party-minded Members of Congress consistently vote “No” for the simple reason that voting “No” is what impresses the Tea Party. From Mediaite, the video clip and the following description of what LaTourette said:

“I don’t think I would say it is all Tea Party freshmen, it is those who seem more interested in voting no and going home than governing,” said LaTourette when asked by Wallace to explain the position.

And later in the Mediaite outline:

LaTourette proceeded to reiterate his point saying that the Tea Party members are an important part of the GOP but that they can’t just throw their hands up at everything and say no. They have to work together with others if they want to get anything done, he said.

“Just voting no and then holding your nose and saying ‘boy if it passes I can go home to my local Tea Party groups and say ‘I voted no!’ that’s ridiculous. That’s what makes them chuckleheads,” said LaTourette.

LaTourette’s disdain for constituent manipulation by so-called “chuckleheads” hits both ways. A number of Members have run on the Tea Party label and then voted for legislation that increased the size and scope of the federal government. Of course, by the same token, LaTourette’s point is accurate for some who claim the Tea Party mantle. Human beings are imperfect, and many or most Members are more concerned about re-election than what’s good for the nation. Thus, yes, some allegedly Tea Party Members of Congress would prefer to vote “No” in order to impress the Tea Party activists in their districts. ,

More relevantly, though, to accuse the House of simply saying “No” to important legislation (the fiscal cliff’s “Plan B,” which would have raised taxes on millionaires, was praised as a good opening gambit by LaTourette in the negotiations happening at that time) is to ignore the facts. Consider just three examples of Tea Party-minded Members of Congress often voting for good legislation:

  • According to the House Majority Leader’s website, 40 jobs bills passed the House in the 112th Congress. Only 11 of those were signed by the President.
  • Tea Party-minded Members supported the House budget resolution last year, as well as the Republican Study Committee’s budget. Senate Democrats haven’t even passed a budget in four years, and President Obama’s last budget proposal was so unserious that it got zero votes in Congress.
  • Tea Party-minded Members of Congress voted for the compromise law known as the Budget Control Act – which, within 18 months, was delayed and nearly overturned by a bipartisan coalition of Members of Congress.

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) said it perfectly to Tea Party Patriots Local Coordinators last November – compromise is fine, as long as the ball is moved in the right direction. (The Senator cited raising the retirement age to 69, though he preferred going to 70.) Unfortunately, leadership in both parties tends to want legislation that would violate principles, and put “compromise” on the side of growing government.

This is where LaTourette’s comments lead – compromise for its own sake. As Tea Party Patriots explained earlier this year, go along to get along compromise is far too common in Washington, and extremely harmful to the nation.