Former House Majority Leader and tea party patriarch Dick Armey tells Newsmax his activists were responsible for thwarting Democrats’ attempts to ram a spending bill through the lame duck session of Congress.
The Texas Republican also declares that the House Republican majority should vote to repeal Obamacare and “something magical could happen in the Senate,” asserts that “virtually anybody” who gains the Republican nomination will defeat President Obama in 2012 — and predicts that none of the current GOP front-runners will be the party’s nominee.
Armey was first elected in 1984 and served as majority leader from 1995 until he left the House in 2003. He was a chief author of the Contract with America in the 1990s, and today is chairman of FreedomWorks, a 700,000-member organization advocating smaller government.
On Sunday, Armey, like many political leaders, decried the shootings in Arizona that seriously wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and killed six others.
"The fact of the matter is, we still have extremely important critical issues of public policy that must be sorted out," Armey said on ABC's "This Week."
"Now, hopefully this will be done in a more civil way. But this incident is no basis by which anybody who sees their duty to America to stand down from that duty, but to redouble it, perhaps with a greater degree of caution, and hopefully with a greater degree of civility.
"We've always wanted that," he said. "But still, nevertheless, we must do our duty and defend our liberties in this great country."
In an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV before the shootings, Armey was asked how much influence the tea party movement will have moving forward.
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“Very much. This movement has come to a new level of maturity,” Armey says.
“We saw it show up overnight in the lame duck session. Harry Reid said, ‘I have an omnibus spending bill. I intend to ram it through.’ And within 48 hours our activists had made enough phone calls, clearly targeted to the critical votes, that he couldn’t get his votes and had to pull it and walk away.
“So [tea party activists] now understand they can be involved in the legislative process. Hopefully, with this new majority in Congress, they should be involved in a positive way of encouraging the passage of good legislation that moves the nation in the direction of constitutionally limited small government, but also when necessary, especially with the Senate, stopping some harebrained big-spending idea.
Armey does not agree with some opponents of Obamacare who believe it will be more practical to seek to remove parts of the healthcare reform bill than repeal the entire legislation.
“Let’s do the repeal,” he declares. “And let’s not despair of the possibility that this could actually happen.
“My advice to the House: Pass the repeal over to the Senate. Let it be a matter between the senators and the American people, and something magical could happen. The senators could finally figure out where this nation needs to go and requires them to go.
“Then when you start dismantling the bill, which they ought to proceed to do, they need to remove and replace — remove bad parts and replace. This is a big, meddlesome bill. It could interfere with the whole industry’s ability to operate properly, so it’s going to take a lot of careful thought.
“The fortunate thing is that Republicans will be much more careful in how they think through the implications of their legislative efforts than the Democrats were. They’re not going to be sitting there saying let’s pass that so we can find out what’s in it, and then later discover what unintended consequences it creates.”
Armey downplays concerns over the Congressional Budget Office’s claim that repeal of Obamacare will add $230 billion to the deficit over 10 years, saying it would be only a “short-run revenue loss” from eliminating the taxes the healthcare bill would impose.
“The fact is, this [bill] is destructive to a critically important industry of the American economy,” he adds. “I would not be deterred by this short-run evaluation by the CBO.”
Armey also favors repeal of the Dodd-Frank financial regulation bill, named for Democratic Sens. Chris Dodd and Barney Frank and signed into law in July. Minnesota Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann, founder of the House Tea Party Caucus, has introduced legislation to repeal the bill, which could impact nearly every kind of business but leave Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — prime factors in the subprime mortgage meltdown — untouched.
“This is another bill done in haste, in this case by two people who are trying to pull their own reputations out of the muck and mire for their previous meddlesomeness,” Armey tells Newsmax.
“My guess is that people who are expert in the industry will understand and see clearly the things that need to be taken out of there. I can say right now that this consumer protection advocate that is appointed by the president and given unlimited powers of control over people’s financial lives has got to go.
“So there’s plenty of room to fix the mess that was created by two desperate politicians trying to salvage their reputation from the mischief they had engaged in earlier in their career.”
Regarding reports that Bachmann is considering a run for president in 2012, Armey says it would be “fun to watch and see” if she does get into the race and “how she develops her standing with the voters as a candidate in competition with other people.”
Armey dismisses former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s stated intention of winning back the House for Democrats.
“The fact is if this Republican majority proves itself to be competent and focused on a continuous movement in the correct direction of constitutionally limited small government, this majority could be [in power] for a long time.
“Just don’t lose the national vision for America that got you here. Serve that vision well and Nancy Pelosi will never be speaker again.”
Referring to Newsmax chief Washington correspondent Ronald Kessler’s recent disclosure that Donald Trump is seriously considering a run for president, Armey says: “He’s a citizen of the United States. He’s a man of some recognition and standing with people. He’s got a chance to develop what kind of policy initiatives he would take for America, how he would lead, in what way he would respect the presidency, and make his case.”
Asked which Republican would be most likely to defeat Obama in 2012, Armey responds: “I think virtually anybody who receives the Republican nomination will beat President Obama. He could lose in his own primaries. Many Democrats are grumbling about that possibility.
“The fact of the matter is we will have an emergent candidate from this primary process. I personally believe it will not be any of the names who are on the tip of your tongue today. It will be an emergent new candidate that has a wholesome, constitutionally defined respect for the limitations of the presidency, the duty of the presidency, and that person has not yet identified themselves.”
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