The Tea Party Does Not Care About Wall Street's Money
Whatever else you might want to say about the tea party folks -- both the elected representatives and their citizen-supporters -- you cannot say that they are in hock to Wall Street the same way the establishment GOP and (much of) the Democrats are. (Including, yes, President Obama. It's true).
If you've followed politics since, say, the late 1990s, you know that part of the GOP's strategy to raise money was to have a virtual stranglehold on K Street, where all the lobbying shops are in D.C. The GOP would insist that lobbying firms hire only ex-GOP staffers who wanted to cash in their chits from their time on Capitol Hill, and actively discouraged firms from hiring Democratic staffers. This was largely the brainchild of Tom DeLay.
That's starting to change in no small part due to the tea party. As the conservative Washington Examiner reports:
But the Tea Party smashed K Street's monopoly on Republican fundraising. The Club for Growth was founded in the late 1990s, and early last decade, it began targeting liberal Republicans in primaries. By 2010, the Club had become a giant force, raising money for candidates who met its rigorous ideological tests and pouring millions into independent expenditures against less-favored Republicans and Democrats.
In 2009, Sen. Jim DeMint founded the Senate Conservatives Fund. The thinking was this: The job of the party leadership was to elect Republicans to the Senate, no matter what. DeMint wanted conservative Republicans.
Instead of corporate interests filling Republican coffers, ideological money started coming in, too.
For example, Big Business gave 33 times as much money to Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst than it did to Ted Cruz in their Senate race. Where did Cruz's money come from? The Club For Growth which likes to take down RINOs and "squishes" in Republican primaries.
But don't take the Examiner's word for it. Harvard political scientist Theda Skocpol has this say about how the tea party is coming back to haunt Big Business:
Everybody on the left thinks business controls the Republican Party. I've startled a few people by saying that we should be so lucky! Mainstream businesses don't want a government shutdown or a default. I think some of those business forces are waking up and realizing they've spent a lot of money on folks they don't have much influence with.
What changed is when Obama came to office, they got an energized grass roots called the Tea Party, some of these groups reorganized themselves and became very adept at leveraging the Tea Party to close the pincers on Republicans. So it's not just that they have money from above but voters from below. Look at Heritage, which is really interesting. For a senator from South Carolina to quit the Senate and take the presidency of Heritage, that tells me he thought he'd be more powerful in setting the agenda for the Republican Party by going outside the Capitol and outside the Congress.
On one level, it is fun to laugh at the U.S Chamber of Commerce because of the monster they helped create (or omitted to snuff out in its sleep). But on another, more frightening, real level, it is not funny at all that we have elected some people with sincerely lunatic ideas to run our government, shut it down and possibly breach the debt ceiling. Sometimes you're better off with the Devil (Wall Street) you know.
Get the Weekly Newsletter
Our weekly feature stories, movie reviews, calendar picks and more - minus the newsprint and sent directly to your inbox.