Tales from the Trail

Washington Extra – Tea Party poopers

April 12, 2012

A man holds a sign during a March 24 Tea Party Patriots rally in Washington calling for the repeal of the 2010 healthare law. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

All that Tea Party support in 2010 for the 87 House Republican freshmen seems to have come with a price — and now it’s time to collect.

Representative Michael Grimm found his office filled with activists wanting to know why he hadn’t done more to slash government spending and why he had voted to raise the U.S. debt limit. He too is frustrated, the former Marine told them, but you just can’t shut down government and stop paying the soldiers.

There is Tea Party talk that the freshmen have become corrupted by Washington and part of the bureaucratic fabric that they very much despise. By one account, two-thirds of the freshmen have compromised while only 20 or so have maintained the zero tolerance Tea Party line on spending.

Alas, the Tea Party could end up giving the Republican freshman class of 2010 more grief than the Democrats heading toward the November elections. If 2010 was the year the Tea Party emerged as a political force in Washington, 2012 will be the year that determines whether the movement can live with itself on Capitol Hill.

Here are our top stories from Washington…

  • White House campaign opens with sharp attacks: President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney fired a series of sharp attacks at each other as they opened a seven-month battle for the White House that is getting ugly fast. Both campaigns moved quickly to frame the choice for voters after Romney’s chief rival, Rick Santorum, dropped out, giving the former Massachusetts governor a clear path to the Republican nomination to challenge Obama in November’s election. For more of this story by John Whitesides, read here.
  • Conservatives are expected to rally around Romney in spite of misgivings. For video, click here.
  • House Republican freshmen feel heat from all sides: Representative Michael Grimm’s office was filled with conservative Tea Party activists one day last month and they weren’t happy. Why, they asked, hadn’t the first-term lawmaker done more to slash government spending? Why had Grimm broken ranks with the Tea Party by voting to raise the debt limit? The scene was indicative of the pressure facing many House Republican freshmen as they seek re-election nearly two years after they swept into Washington and helped change the national debate on government spending. For more of this analysis by Thomas Ferraro and Sam Jacobs, read here.
  • Energy costs stir worries in US economic expansion: Economic activity kept growing moderately in the late winter months but rising energy prices were beginning to worry manufacturers and retailers across the country, the Federal Reserve said. Positive signs included stronger manufacturing activity, steady hiring and improved retail business in much of the country. But overlying that was a sense of concern that costlier energy and rising gasoline prices were a threat. For more of this story by Glenn Somerville, read here.
  • U.S. civilian courts await extradited militants: When the Obama administration declared it wanted to put suspects involved in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on trial in a New York federal courtroom, cries of outrage erupted. But when it comes to the cases of five alleged top militants whose extradition from Britain to the United States a European human rights court approved on Tuesday, the White House will have no choice. British and U.S. officials said the Obama administration had given ironclad assurances that the five militants would be tried in the federal court system, and they would not face a potential sentence of capital punishment. For more of this analysis by Mark Hosenball, read here.
  • Middle East mediators seek to revive peace talks: Middle East peace mediators criticized Israeli settlement building and called on donors to meet aid pledges to the Palestinians as they sought to revive moribund peace talks. The so-called Quartet – the EU, Russia, the UN and the United States – said they stood behind their Sept. 23, 2011 call for the parties to reach a peace deal by the end of 2012, an objective that seems increasingly remote. For more of this story by Arshad Mohammed, read here.
  • U.S. sues Apple, publishers in e-book price scheme: Apple and publishers Penguin and Macmillan have decided to fight government charges that they conspired to fix the prices of e-books, even as three other publishers agreed to a settlement aimed at lowering prices for consumers. The settlement reached with three of the publishers will allow Amazon.Com and Barnes & Noble to resume discounting books, and will terminate the “most favored nation” contracts with Apple. For more of this story by Diane Bartz and Poornima Gupta, read here.
  • US military sets goal to cut power grid dependence: The Obama administration set a goal of building three gigawatts of solar, wind, and geothermal power capacity on military installations by 2025 that could require about $20 billion in private financing. “We are doing it not principally to be green, we’re doing it principally to provide greater security for our installations,” an administration official told reporters in a teleconference. For more of this story by Timothy Gardner, read here.
  • U.S. consumer website helps factor college costs: With many students eagerly waiting to find out which college they will be attending in the fall, the consumer watchdog is offering a sober reminder: loans for tuition are expensive. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau unveiled an online tool to compare tuition costs at various colleges and determine how much monthly payments would be on student loans. The calculator assumes four-year and two-year degree programs and a 10-year repayment period that would begin after graduation. For more of this story by Dave Clarke, read here.

From elsewhere…

  • Trayvon Martin shooter arrested, charged with murder: A Florida prosecutor filed a murder charge on Wednesday against the neighborhood watch volunteer who shot and killed unarmed, black teenager Trayvon Martin in a case that has captivated the United States and prompted civil rights demonstrations. For more of this story, read here.

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