News / USA

Tea Party Big Loser in Budget Battle

Tea Party supporters gather for a rally outside the IRS headquarter in Washington, May 21, 2013. (AP Photo)
Tea Party supporters gather for a rally outside the IRS headquarter in Washington, May 21, 2013. (AP Photo)
There was a bit of a sea change in Washington this week.  The Republican-controlled House of Representatives easily passed a $1.1 trillion budget bill that will keep the government funded through September.  Yes, the very same Republican House that led last October’s 16 day government shutdown that was hugely unpopular with voters.
 
Republicans got the lion’s share of the blame for the shutdown and it looks as though Republican congressional leaders got the message.  House Speaker John Boehner started blasting some independent conservative groups last month that had supported the shutdown, and it was clear that a national shift in public opinion about the Tea Party was having an impact.
 
This budget deal is a compromise.  Democrats are happy about more money for social welfare programs like Head Start and food aid for poor pregnant women.  The government will no longer be under the sequester cuts imposed last year when lawmakers could not reach an agreement.  Republicans are pleased with cuts to some agencies including the Internal Revenue Service as well as foreign aid programs.  They will be able to run re-election campaigns touting a rollback in government spending in general over the past several years.
 
So who’s unhappy?  Tea Party supporters in Congress.  166 House Republicans supported the budget bill while 64 voted no.  Last October, those 64 were among the leaders of the effort to shut down the government over objections to President Barack Obama’s health care law.

To be sure, Republicans will continue to hammer away at the Affordable Care Act this year in the run up to the midterm congressional elections in November.  And the Tea Party will remain a force in Republican primary battles this year.  No incumbent wants to face a Tea Party challenger backed by conservative fundraising machines like FreedomWorks and Heritage Action for America.
 
But there is no question that last year’s government shutdown hurt the image of the Republican Party with the public, and mainstream Republicans are now moving to limit the influence of the Tea Party movement without losing the support of their fervent followers.  It will remain a delicate dance.
 
Christie’s troubles provide opening for 2016 rivals
 
So which Republican White House hopefuls are helped by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s ‘Bridgegate’ scandal?  It’s clearly too early to know for sure and much will depend on what, if anything, comes out in the weeks to come.  If Christie is backed up in his claim that he knew nothing about his aides orchestrating traffic problems on the New Jersey side of the George Washington Bridge, apparently as an act of political retaliation, he might be able to emerge as a still viable presidential contender in 2016.
 
But if information comes to light that Christie knew more about the bridge issue than he acknowledged it could damage his White House prospects beyond repair.  The governor tried to change the subject with his recent State of the State address focused on education reform and bipartisanship.  But the legislative probes into ‘Bridgegate’ are getting underway and it’s likely the governor will come under media scrutiny for months.

We are now in the early stages of the kind of ‘drip, drip’ scandal that politicians hate.  For Christie’s potential rivals for the 2016 Republican Party presidential nomination, this is a great time to lie low and let the story play out.  Among those likely enjoying the drama most is Kentucky Senator Rand Paul.  Paul gives a lot of indications of running two years from now and has clashed with Christie in the past over spending.  Last year he called Christie “the king of bacon” in the wake of the governor’s efforts to secure federal help for New Jersey in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.
 
The latest NBC News/Marist poll shows Christie is still at the top of the list of potential Republican candidates for 2016 at 16 percent.  That’s only down slightly from last month when he was at 18 percent.  Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan follows at 12 percent and Senator Rand Paul is at 9 percent.  One candidate who has dropped more than anyone else in the past month is Texas Senator Ted Cruz, a big supporter of last year’s government shutdown.  Cruz was at 10 percent last month but has dropped to only 5 percent in the latest survey.
 
Cruz’s rating may have taken a hit because of the negative fallout from the government shutdown.  In a perfect world for Chris Christie, that might make him more appealing to Republican voters in 2016 looking for a candidate with a proven record of bipartisanship.  But until Christie can get out from under the shadow of the traffic scandal, he’ll have to hope that Republican voters at the very least suspend their judgment for a while as to how worthy a presidential contender he might be.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs