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Tea Party

It's A Free Country ®

Another Budget Concession for Dems?

Monday, March 28, 2011

WNYC

With less than two weeks left to compromise and avoid a government shutdown, Democrats are assembling another proposal with more concessions.

The Democrats proposal will have approximately $20 billion additional spending cuts that could soon be offered to Republicans, according to the Wall Street Journal. This proposal would come after $10 billion in enacted spending cuts for the year. Republicans are seeking a total of $61 billion in in budget cuts and are under pressure from the Tea Party to get all of these cuts through the gauntlet.

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It's A Free Country ®

Bachmann Inches Toward 2012 Run

Friday, March 25, 2011

Minnesota Republican Representative Michelle Bachmann let it be known that she is forming an exploratory committee to feel out a run for president, by posting an exclusive story leaked to CNN about her plans on her Facebook page.

While refraining from making any formal announcement, Bachmann told the people signed up as “friends” of her Facebook page that she had “read a little something on CNN,” linking to the article. The CNN article quotes an unnamed source as saying that Bachmann has been “telling everybody early summer” is when she planned to announce her candidacy, but the source feels it may happen even sooner.

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Transportation Nation

Florida High Speed Rail Bidders Frustrated, Perplexed

Friday, February 18, 2011

A conceptual rendering of a Florida high-speed rail station (from presentation by the Florida Statewide Passenger Rail Commission)

(Matt Dellinger, Transportation Nation)  When Governor Rick Scott (R) announced this week that he planned to return $2.4 billion in federal grant money for a proposed High Speed Rail line that had already been three decades in the making, many were shocked. A bipartisan group of Floridian Congresspeople—including the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chair John Mica (R-Fla.)—was almost literally falling over itself with consternation at a press conference yesterday as they announced an emergency effort to keep the funds in Florida.

To one member of the Florida Mobility Partners—one consortium that had expressed interest in building Florida’s high speed rail line—the announcement was downright disturbing. “What does [the Governor] have to lose?” Nora Friend, the Vice President of Public Affairs and Business Development at the Spanish rail company Talgo asked, when I reach her by phone today. “To allow all of these strong companies and

concessionaires to do their own diligence and to come and see if they could make it work? What would the state lose?”

Indeed, Scott’s decision came at a highly disorienting moment for prospective bidders. At least eight teams had assembled and were anxious for the state to issue its formal Request for Qualifications. The RFQ was drafted late last year and, according to Friend, bidders were expecting its formal issue within a month.

The state was clear in its hope that the eventual public-private partnership would be a DBOM&F (Design-Build-Operate-Maintain-and-Finance) arrangement. As such, to be eligible, each consortium bidding would have had to present a financing plan as part of their initial proposal. At a hearing in November, Friend said, her consortium had gone on the record as saying they were confident they would be willing to accept the risk of construction costs, currently estimated at $280 million (or roughly 10 percent of the total cost). This, of course, is the very risk from which the Governor wanted to save Florida taxpayers.

Friend wasn't willing to guarantee anything—the due diligence wasn't done, and bidders don't like to show too many cards—but she felt that with the strength of tourism (Disney) and the chance to extend the line to Miami, the project looked healthy and doable. "We feel that the project warrants the risk, with the expectations for the second segment to Miami," she said. "Unfortunately this is the third time around for Florida. It’s unfortunate for the United States because we are lagging behind so terribly because of politics. All these partisan issues, and in this country they choose, unfortunately, rail as one of those very contentious partisan issues. And we think it’s just terrible. If we don’t assume some risk and launch at least a first initial project that can be successful, the rest is not going to come."

"You can tell I'm frustrated," Friend apologized. And with good reason: Talgo suffered similar disappointment last year when Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (R) returned Wisconsin's share of HSR stimulus money just months after the company opened a rail car factory in Milwaukee. "It seems like wherever we go, they’re returning all these ARRA (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) funds," Friend said. "We basically did everything the administration was hoping for—to attract companies and technologies, to transfer this know-how to the United States."  The Milwaukee facility is making four trains, two for the Hiawatha line and two for the Cascades line between Seattle and Portland. "We’re going to be forced to shut down the manufacturing part of the facility after we deliver those four trains in early 2012."

Friend believes that it's time for the Florida State Legislature, the DOT, and the people of Florida to speak up in favor of the plan.  She's obviously watching closely to see what fruit current negotiations bear. "We are hopeful that Secretary LaHood is not going to rush, like the U.S. DOT did to take away the funds from Wisconsin and Ohio. We hope that they’ll try to figure out how to make it work. We are very—I'm not sure how to say this politely—disheartened may be a good word—about this governor’s decision of returning the funds and not going ahead with the project, without any proof to validate his concerns."

“The truth is that this project would be far too costly to taxpayers and I believe the risk far outweighs the benefits,” the governor said in making the announcement earlier this week. “President Obama’s high-speed rail program is not the answer to Florida’s economic recovery.”

Transportation Nation posted Scott's speech where he laid out his reasons for the decision.

Even if Secretary LaHood, Senator Nelson, and others find a legal, willing place to park $2.4 billion, the path forward relies on Governor Scott's cooperation. But there's only one way to find out who's right and who's wrong about whether the private sector is willing to bear the risk in building high speed rail: let the bid process move forward. And let the consortia place their bids.

Matt Dellinger is the author of the book Interstate 69: The Unfinished History of the Last Great American Highway. You can follow him on Twitter.

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It's A Free Blog

Colorado's Tea Party Lessons

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Recently, I blogged at InsiderIowa.com about trouble in the Colorado Republican Party. I wrote that although the Tea Party mobilized Republicans at the base for the 2010 election and managed to create momentum sufficient to give the GOP a big victory, not all is well in elephant land. Colorado could be a lesson, and a warning for Iowa’s first in the nation test for 2012.

Saying he's "tired of the nuts who have no grasp of what the state party's role is," Colorado Republican Chairman Dick Wadhams won't run for re-election. He warned that if the Tea Party continues to high-jack the larger Republican agenda and veers more sharply to the right, the GOP stands a good chance of losing Colorado's "large unaffiliated voter base."

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It's A Free Country ®

The Koch Brothers' Fundraising Machine

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

WNYC
They really see themselves as sort of the Tea Party before the Tea Party was cool...funding what have really become the sort of intellectual infrastructure of the Libertarian movement, not just the conservative movement, something even more specific, more precise than that. The small government, low regulations, low taxes movement.

— Kenneth Vogel, senior reporter for Politico on the Brian Lehrer Show.

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It's A Free Blog

In Iowa, a Year of Glad-Handing and Far Right-Leaning

Monday, February 07, 2011

We’re a year out now, and candidates are starting to trickle in. A presidential debate with the Iowa GOP and Fox News will open the season on August 11, followed two days later by the GOP Straw Poll in Ames, Iowa. Although largely a beauty contest with no meaning for the 2012 presidential selection, the straw poll is an important fundraiser for the party and a “county fair” (the caucuses are the State Fair), where the media and voters get to look at, pinch, stroke, and evaluate the “beef” that wants to lead the party in November.

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It's A Free Blog

The Iowa Tea Party Plan for Holding Candidates Accountable

Monday, February 07, 2011

Coordination among Tea Parties also means trouble and embarrassment for candidates who try the same old political trick of “tell’em what they wanna hear” on the campaign trail. What will be different in 2012 is that instead of flocking to a candidate and attempting to attach our principles to a candidate, we will ask the candidate to say “your principles fit with mine and this is why."

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It's A Free Country ®

In Iowa, Tea Party’s Influence Limited So Far

Monday, February 07, 2011

Joyce Russell will appear on the Brian Lehrer Show today at 11:06 am.

For the next 12 months, Republican presidential hopefuls will be courting the state of Iowa, where first-in-the-nation caucuses can make or break a campaign. Tea Party groups across the state are already making one thing clear: they expect to feel the love.

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It's A Free Country ®

The Elephant in the Room? Tea Partier to Lead NH GOP

Monday, January 24, 2011

On Saturday, political newcomer and Tea Party activist Jack Kimball was elected chairman of the New Hampshire GOP, adding new complexity to the 2012 presidential race—the first contest for the presidency with Tea in the mix—since all eyes will be on New Hampshire and its first-in-the-nation primary next January.

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It's A Free Blog

Justice Scalia Shouldn't Speak to the Tea Party Caucus

Monday, January 24, 2011

Simply put, this appearance creates appearance problems. It adds to the politicization of the judiciary. And so, I am forced to consider — with all due respect — whether Justice Scalia should be speaking to the caucus, and whether Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court should speak publicly, at all.

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It's A Free Blog

Reading the Constitution's Text Alone Isn't Enough

Thursday, January 06, 2011

One cannot simply read the text of the Constitution and call it a day. The very real danger here is that the new Tea Partiers in Congress (and some of their followers at home) will actually listen to the reading of the 7,591 word document (that includes all 27 amendments) without the benefit of real constitutional understanding.

The original text has evolved a bit over the years. We've changed it not only by adding articles of amendment, but also through two hundred years of jurisprudence. No one can understand the Constitution without some greater understanding of the amendment process and the case law that interprets the text.

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It's A Free Blog

Blogging The Constitution: What's Your Favorite Passage?

Thursday, January 06, 2011

The US Constitution was read on the floor of the House Thursday, as part of the Republican majority's efforts to renew focus on the founding document. We asked our It's A Free Country team to write about their favorite passage of the constitution, and also want you to tell us about yours. Fill out the form at the bottom of the page, and Brian Lehrer will follow up on-air next week with two constitutional scholars.

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It's A Free Blog

The Trouble with Tea Partiers as Legislators

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

The Republican majority moves into the House of Representatives today, fueled by the energy of newly elected Tea Partiers who arrive declaring that they’ll shake things up, undo Obama’s victories and change Washington.

My prediction: they will cause some commotion, get a good deal of attention, undo nothing and Washington will survive yet another push to transform it, for better or for worse.

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It's A Free Blog

My List of 2010's Most Fascinating

Friday, December 31, 2010

With just a few hours to go this year, let me add my picks for the most fascinating people of 2010 to the mix:

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It's A Free Blog

Ten Reasons Liberals Should Toast that 2010 is Finally Over

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Prepare to pop your champagne corks and warm up your vocal cords to belt out the lyrics of Auld Lang Syne. New Year’s Eve is upon us. For some, it’s a time to look forward to a new chapter. For others, a chance to reflect upon the accomplishments of the past year.

For liberals, let’s just toast that 2010 is over at last.

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It's A Free Blog

Snow Plows: The Government Bailout We Can All Get Behind

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A massive snowstorm is coming! Twenty inches of snow will blanket our city!  Did we remember to pay our private snow-clearing insurance to plow our street?!

That last exclamation wasn’t heard in the commotion and clamor leading up to NYC’s latest Snowpocalypse. We don’t need to pay for private companies to open up our roadways because we – like many Americans – rely on local government to handle the job. 

That’s right: we depend on, and are largely served by, Big Government Snow Plows. Or, as The Tea Party and its friends at Fox News may call it: “Government Takeover of the Snow Removal Industry."

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It's A Free Blog

Liberals Get Their Game Back

Friday, December 17, 2010

Liberals shouldn't be in a festive mood.  The sweeping, game-changing realignment promised by the 2008 election got re-realigned in 2010.  The Tea Party grabbed the headlines as it won the hearts of a small, passionate, activist population.  Meanwhile, progressive champs like Russ Feingold and Alan Grayson went down.  At least, they went down swinging -- many other Democrats went down running.

So you'd think that this holiday season would find Tea Partiers toasting eggnog by the Christmas tree and liberals sulking alone near the mistletoe. 

Not in New York.

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The Takeaway

Republicans Begin to Define Agenda; Tea Party Tests Its Strength

Friday, November 12, 2010

Freshmen senators, insider fighting, and a need to publicly shape the next moves for the party after the midterm election: the Republican party has spent the past week regrouping. In the middle of it all, the candidates elected with Tea Party enthusiasm have begun to flex their new political muscles with mixed results. Minnesota GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann, one of the initiators of the Tea Party movement, has dropped her bid for a leadership role in the Republican House Conference. Delaware's Senator Jim DeMint, the undeclared leader of the group, is pushing for an unpopular ban on earmarking — in an attempt, perhaps, to show how much power he can wield. And new arrivals, like Florida's freshman Senator-elect, Marco Rubio, are finding themselves caught between Tea Party ideals and Washington's realities. How is the party tackling its goals, voter expectations and new majority? 

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It's A Free Blog

Will There Be a Marco Rubio Tsunami?

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

History might show that the Tea Party Republican (TPR) victory launched the presidential career of Florida Senator-elect Marco Rubio. His personal characteristics — a strong family man, religious, an attorney, handsome, articulate and charismatic — plus the possibility that he will bring the Latino vote to the TRP tent, make him a most appealing candidate.

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The Leonard Lopate Show

The Big Picture: Jill Lepore and Matt Taibbi

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

For the final installment of our election series The Big Picture, contributing editor for Rolling Stone Matt Taibbi and New Yorker staff writer Jill Lepore discuss the results of Election Day—what happened at the polls, who won and who lost, and the state of the country. Taibbi’s new book Griftopia: Bubble Machines, Vampire Squids, and the Long Con That Is Breaking America, unravels the story of financial crisis. Lepore’s new book The Whites of Their Eyes: The Tea Party's Revolution and the Battle over American History looks at American history according to the far right.

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