“The Tea Party is very much still alive. We see some threats as more urgent than others,” Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund chairman Jenny Beth Martin told Breitbart News in an exclusive interview on Thursday.
Martin’s remarks came on the same day a two year budget deal that Tea Party Patriots Action called “budget-busting” easily passed the House of Representatives in a 284-149 vote. The budget bill is now under consideration in the Senate, where it is expected to soon pass. President Trump could sign the budget deal before the end of August if it passes in the Senate in essentially the same form it passed the House.
One of the original organizers of the Tea Party movement when it burst on the national scene in 2009, Martin co-founded the Tea Party Patriots, the 501 (c) (4) non-profit group started that same year to promote the three core values of the movement: (1) Constitutionally Limited Government (Personal Freedom), (2) Free Markets (Economic Freedom), and (3) Fiscal Responsibility (Debt-Free Future).
Martin currently serves as chairman of Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund, the Super PAC that was founded in 2013 and supports those same values, and is honorary chairman of Tea Party Patriots Action, the grassroots activism arm of Tea Party Patriots
In an article titled “New Budget Deal Puts Final Nail in the Tea-Party Coffin,” published at National Review last week, Brian Riedl, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, declared that “the conventional wisdom among Washington Republicans is that populist conservative voters no longer care about spending or deficits and that Democrats and hostile media would savage any attempts to rein in government.” The article continued:
So the debt limit is now regularly suspended, and the final two years of the Budget Control Act, 2020 and 2021, are poised to see a spending-cap increase of $320 billion with only minimal offsets. At one point, Republicans discussed extending the spending caps beyond 2021. Now, they will skip the charade.
The tea party burst into Washington pledging spending restraint, balanced budgets, and accountable government. Even the possibility of defaulting on the national debt was an acceptable price of reform. Roughly a decade later, budget deficits are again reaching $1 trillion, spending is soaring, Obamacare remains on the books, and Republicans are raising the debt limit and eviscerating their lead accomplishment, the Budget Control Act.
With Republicans like these, who needs Democrats?
Martin, however, has a more strategic view of the political circumstances surrounding the House passage of the budget deal and its likely passage in the Senate.
“We knew the establishment didn’t like us, we just didn’t know how much they didn’t like us,” Martin told Breitbart News.
“There are people in the establishment, much like the National Review article author, who don’t realize that our support for Trump is the result of us being sick of the establishment,” Martin continued.
“The Tea Party movement set the stage for Donald Trump,” she noted.
It was the grassroots power of the Tea Party movement that helped Republicans gain 63 seats in the House of Representatives in the 2010 Congressional midterm elections, catapulting Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) from Minority Leader to Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Once in power, Boehner did little to advance the agenda of the Tea Party movement that gave him that power.
Martin vigorously disputed the claim that the Tea Party movement in 2019 is dead.
“I don’t think that is accurate at all,” Martin said of Riedl’s assertion in National Review.
“The Tea Party is still very much alive. We see some threats as much more urgent than others,” she added.
“You’ve got the crisis at the border number one. We’ve got to secure our border for all sorts of reasons. You’ve got people coming across who want American society to take care of them,” Martin added.
Martin continued on the theme of first things first.
“We have another thing that is urgently important, and that is to make sure our country does not go in the direction of socialism. We’ve forgotten the lessons of the Cold War. If we elect a bunch of people who support socialism, the spending and debt will explode under socialism,” she said.
With Democrats firmly in control of the House of Representatives in this session of Congress, a bipartisan deal that would reduce spending was simply not possible.
Stop socialism first at the ballot box, secure the nation’s borders, then fix the out-of-control federal spending in the budget are Martin’s practical priorities.
Michael Patrick Leahy was an early organizer of the Tea Party movement in 2009 and is the author of Covenant of Liberty: The Ideological Origins of the Tea Party Movement.