Tea Party vows payback over health care reform

Tea Party activists rally in Washington (AP)

If you thought Tea Party activists were mad before, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

Instead of being discouraged by passage of health care reform, tea party activists across the country say the defeat is a rallying cry that makes them more focused than ever on voting out any lawmaker who supported the measure.

“We’re not going to stop. Obviously, the whole tea party movement started because we’re about smaller government and less spending and less taxes. There is absolutely no way we can pay for this,” said Denise Cattoni, state coordinator for Illinois Tea Party, an umbrella group for about 50 groups from around Illinois.

Cattoni says the health care defeat doesn’t deflate tea party activists. “We couldn’t stop it because of the shenanigans that went on in Washington,” Cattoni said. “People are definitely more driven today than they were yesterday without a doubt.”

A group of Republican attorneys general were girding for a legal fight, planning to sue in court to stop or blunt the landmark health care reforms passed by Congress and to be signed into law Tuesday by President Barack Obama.

Within hours of its passage, conservative commentators Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh — darlings of the tea party movement — were venting their anger, vowing a bloodbath at the polls on Election Day.

“We need to defeat these bastards. We need to wipe them out,” Limbaugh said. “We need to chase them out of town. But we need to do more than that. We need to elect conservatives. If there are Republican primaries, elect conservatives and then defeat the Democrats — every last one of them — and then we start the repeal process.”

Tea party activists said they do not see passage of the reforms that usher in near-universal medical coverage as the end of the debate. Instead, they’re looking to push for its repeal on several fronts: in the courts and during this year’s elections.

So far, the nascent movement has almost reveled in its rebellious and grass roots nature and has avoided becoming as much a part of the establishment as the Republican and Democratic parties. But some tea party organizers see the health care debate as a galvanizing force that could stir its followers to greater action and something to rally around with midterm elections this year.

“There’s going to be a whole, all-out effort for an Election Day onslaught,” said Michael Caputo, a public relations consultant who works with tea party activists on the national level, as well as in Florida and New York. “The health care process has been an incendiary issue for the tea party organizations since Day 1. Losing that vote is going to inflame them more.”

The number of tea party groups has been growing for a little more then a year. Many in the movement were previously not politically active and have a strong independent streak, making organization sometimes difficult.

Most share a common belief that government spending and influence should be limited and they’re angry about the policies under the Obama administration and the Democratic-controlled Congress including last year’s $787 billion federal stimulus package and health care.

In a conference call with tea party activists Monday night, Eric Odom of the Patriot Caucus mapped ambitious plans to set up state chapters, organize voters online and raise money to oust incumbents who supported the health care overhaul.

He predicted the vote would increase support for the movement across the country.

The government “has declared war on our way of life,” Odom from Nevada told listeners.

“It’s now time to boot them from office,” said Odom, who chairs the Liberty First PAC, a fundraising arm of the group. “We absolutely must have your help.”

In Florida, about 85 tea party groups encompass about 100,000 people, according to Everett Wilkinson, a leader in the state’s movement. A small rally is being planned in Boca Raton on Tuesday with more likely the rest of the week in response to the vote, he said.

There are similar reactions elsewhere.

“We will be more determined than ever to see that this country is governed the way the constitution intended,” said Brenda Bowen, a tea party organizer in Greenville, Ala. “We are all getting our second wind. When we do, you’d better watch out.”

Even though they didn’t stop the bill, Tim Dake, organizer of the Milwaukee-area group GrandSons of Liberty, said he and others intend to push for a state constitutional amendment that would prohibit forcing people to buy health insurance. The amendment has been introduced by Republicans in the Democratic-controlled Wisconsin Legislature, but there are no plans to hold a hearing on it.

The Republican-controlled Legislature is pushing a similar measure in Florida. If lawmakers put it on the ballot, at least 60 percent of voters would have to approve it.

Christen Varley, head of the Greater Boston Tea Party Organizers, said the House health vote was both “heartbreaking” and a wake-up call.

“I think we all went to bed a little dejected last night, but from the communication I received this morning, people are energized,” said Varley. Sarah Palin is scheduled to headline a tea party rally on historic Boston Common on April 14.

Massachusetts already has a form of universal health care, yet the state made passage of the bill more difficult when voters elected Republican Scott Brown to replace the late Sen. Ted Kennedy — who spent nearly his entire career pushing for health care for all. Brown’s election took away Democrats’ filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.

Whether or not tea partiers will be able to turn anger into organization may vary from state to state.

“People in the Tea Party movement are fiercely independent. They don’t like being told what to do. It’s like herding cats,” said Chad Capps, strategy coordinator for a Huntsville, Ala., group.

While tea party activists have made themselves heard, University of North Florida political science professor Matthew Corrigan said the movement alone won’t be enough to oust incumbents.

“Do they have energy? Yes. Have they been getting into the media? Yes, but they still haven’t sold me on the fact that they can swing elections,” Corrigan said.

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Associated Press writers Deanna Bellandi in Chicago, Steve LeBlanc in Boston, Scott Bauer in Madison, Wis., Phillip Rawls in Montgomery, Ala., and Michael Blood in Los Angeles, contributed to this report.

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14 Responses to "Tea Party vows payback over health care reform"

  1. Norris Hall  March 23, 2010 at 1:23 pm

    Maybe if Tea Bagger would put some black faces up front closer to the TV cameras and got rid of the signs showing Obama as an Africa Witch doctor they can regain some credibility.
    Right now they look like a bunch of white southern segregationalists spitting at black school chldren on their way to class.

    • larry  March 23, 2010 at 11:26 pm

      that’s what they are…

    • Almandine  March 26, 2010 at 9:31 pm

      Looking to suck off the national tit, eh Norris?

  2. Bob Logan, New York, NY  March 23, 2010 at 5:22 pm

    Instead of ranting and raving and waisting a lot of energy, the Tea Party should prepare for the up and coming Primary Elections this year. Just take the list of the representative that voted YES (Democrat’s) who will be running against another Democrat in the up and coming PRIMARY elections, find out who their Democrat Opponent is, REGISTER AS A DEMOCRAT FOR THE PRIMARY, and vote for the opponent. You have to declare yourself as a Democrat this ONE time. ( You could also vote for the few Democrat’s who voted NO to give them a chance to be re- elected.) You have plenty of time to get ready for the PRIMARY and if done with the energy that you are displaying now .you will be successful at getting most of the YES representative OUT. They won’t even make it to the general election. This will take a lot to do because the public generally does not vote in the primaries and few change parties for the primaries but it is a lot better than just shouting around.

  3. Almandine  March 23, 2010 at 7:49 pm

    You sound scared Norris. Here is the political process outstandingly at work and what do you do??? Throw racist comments.

    Talk about credibility.

    • JW  March 23, 2010 at 8:17 pm

      Norris is absolutely correct.

      The Tea Parties are nothing but modern day Klan Rallies.

      They are the lowest of the low.

      • Almandine  March 26, 2010 at 8:22 pm

        Morris is wrong… and I’d bet whatever you’d agree to that you’ve never been to a Tea Party.

        Have another Kool Aid.

  4. b mcclellan  March 23, 2010 at 8:42 pm

    What say Al ,

    how much longer til they change our private ballparks name back to America Mission Accomplished, then again into,
    brought too you buy, buy Amero Shores and wage ever more myopic war surreptitiously under our very noses?

    If it’s late night comedy , Capps reference to herding Cats that supposedly adds strategy to the message reveals dereliction, far past partisanship.
    Talk about ugly Americans…AArrgh.

  5. Jim  March 24, 2010 at 4:47 am

    Tell me something. How is it that these Tea Baggers can miss work, travel several hundred or thousand of miles, spend their money on food and lodging, when most of us are struggling to survive?????? The other day when they were “protesting” in D.C., someone mentioned that most of them were from WV. Guess what, WV receives more in Federal “welfare” money than any state, maybe with the exception of Alaska. I will guarantee you that 75% of the Tea Baggers, who are out there showing their asses, are receiving some sort of “welfare” from the very government they are protesting against.

    • sherry  March 24, 2010 at 9:59 am

      The same thing was said about the war protesters. People from the northern panhandle of WV are only about an hour outside DC. A lot of them are government employees. I didn’t see the protesters, didn’t really care, but for people who DO work, there is such thing as vacation/personal days or paid time off.

  6. Carl Nemo  March 24, 2010 at 4:57 am

    I must say JIm your observations concerning W.V. ‘teabaggers’ is quite astute!

    You’d make a good intelligence analyst… : )

    Yep, government welfare is where it’s at. Folks in West Virginia are beholdin’ to Senator Robert Byrd for addicting them to that rich, fine milk dispensed via the government teat!

    Carl Nemo **==

    • Jim  March 24, 2010 at 6:18 am

      Well, Carl, I will be the first to admit that I like having an “advantage” in any discussion, but I really don’t believe that I would make “a good intelligence analyst”, being a truck driver all my life, I can only make my decisions on the observations that I see.

      One of the observations that has influenced me is the one that the first “pigs at the trough” are the ones with the biggest squeal. I have a friend who is flatly a right-wing nut and he is against every welfare program that the government has. But guess what? He is on Social Security, he runs to the VA for his medical needs, and he goes to the doctors two or three times a week because Medicare takes care of the bill. Before his mother died, they arranged her finances so she could completely go on Medicaid. And I dare say that most of the Tea Baggers are in the same boat.

    • sherry  March 24, 2010 at 9:17 am

      Carl, I have family in WV. Byrd is none to popular these days. After the Super Delegates of this state endorsed Barack Obama over Hillary before she won the primary with 68% of the vote, WV was angry.
      WV people are none too happy with Byrd et al. The reason the democrats didn’t carry this state was because of the backlash over the Obama endorsement.
      It is unfortunate you feel the need to paint West Virginians with such a nasty stereotype.

  7. Odo  March 25, 2010 at 12:32 am

    Wo ist das Koffee Klubers (Woo-Hoo-Hoo-Hoo) :)

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