Two months after the Tea Party helped propel Republicans to a historic victory in the midterm elections, glaring conflicts still divide grassroots activists and the GOP's elected officials. (Watch a Fox Business discussion about the Tea Party's politics.) The Democrats' unexpectedly productive lame-duck session only exacerbated those tensions. As the new Republican-led Congress convenes, Tea Partiers are reportedly as angry as they've ever been. Here, four specific beefs:
1. Tea Party reps have been passed up for leadership positions
Tea Party groups aren't happy that representatives they've endorsed have failed to win leadership positions in the 112th Congress. Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA), for example, was passed over for the chairmanship of the House Appropriations Committee, notes The New York Times, in favor of Rep. Harold Rogers (R-KY), someone Tea Party leaders expect will "continue the big-spending, pork-barrel ways that lost Republicans the majority four years ago."
2. The Bush tax-cut deal
Liberals were not the only ones dismayed by President Obama's tax cut deal with the Republican leadership. The plan must have felt like a "haymaker to the jaw" to Tea Party activists, says Alex Altman in Time. The tax cut bill was "characterized by many as a second stimulus," piling "hundreds of billions of dollars in debt" on top of "an already bulging federal budget gap." That's exactly what the grassroots activists rebelled against last year. Accordingly, Tea Party Patriots labeled the deal a "violation of first principles." Other Tea Partiers, reports The New York Times, were angry that the GOP had failed to secure a repeal of the estate tax as part of the deal.
3. The passing of the START treaty
Republicans who supported President Obama's nuclear weapons deal with Russia aren't popular with Tea Partiers. The GOP took a "collective dive" on this bill, says conservative blogger Burt Prelutsky at World News Daily, giving Obama a win on legislation that looked almost certain to fail after the midterm elections. Blame the "fair number of Republican lunkheads" who needlessly voted in favor of it. "Talk about snatching defeat from the jaws of victory!"
4. Don't ask, don't tell
Some Tea Partiers criticized those Republicans who voted to repeal the military's policy on gay and lesbian soldiers. The GOP "used the most cockeyed poll in history as an excuse to go along with the liberals," says World News Daily's Burt Prelutsky. Sen. Scott Brown's (R-MA) support for the bill helped fuel a Tea Party-backed call for him to be voted out of office next year. Christen Varley, president of the Greater Boston Tea Party, told The Boston Globe that an "underground movement" in the Tea Party sees him "as not being conservative enough. There probably will be multiple people who attempt to run against him."