In the interest of party unity, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Republican establishment need to focus on the similarities, not the differences, with the tea party faction, former Louisiana Congressman Billy Tauzin wrote in a piece for Politico.
The factions all advocate "smaller government, lower taxes, fiscal restraint, balanced budgets, free enterprise, property rights, and a deep hatred of Big Brother-style overregulation," wrote Tauzin, who spent 25 years in Congress.
He doesn’t fault the U.S. Chamber — composed of "results-oriented businessmen" — for supporting pro-business, establishment candidates over those affiliated with the tea party, noting that the latter might do well in a primary but would be unelectable in the general election.
But with the ouster of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and a possible victory for Chris McDaniel over incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran in Mississippi, it’s time for the establishment to take the tea party more seriously.
Tauzin says he and former House Majority Leader Dick Armey were the original architects of the tea party. In 1997, Tauzin writes, he and Armey staged a series of debates held in 40 cities called "Scrap the Code," which called for a flat tax and a national retail sales tax.
The tour kicked off in the Boston Harbor, where Tauzin said he tossed overboard a chest containing the then-1,100-page Tax Code (it’s now longer). During each of his stops, he called for a new American tea party, he said. Armey argued on behalf of a flat tax over the current income tax system.
Tauzin recommends as starting points simplifying the tax code and tamping down overregulation.
"Maybe it’s time for a new national Scrap the Code effort," he suggests. "Republicans and the tea party should sponsor that effort together, especially now, with so much evidence of IRS misdeeds."
Overregulation is killing both small and large businesses and job creation and "robs citizens of property rights and property value without the just compensation promised in the Fifth Amendment," he said.
"It’s time for a national Republican-tea party tour, highlighting the damage that Big Brother-style overregulation does to our lives, citing real-life examples, and debating the best approach to getting government back in its box and allowing free enterprise to flourish."
The Chamber should look to unite with the tea party to inform the American people about an increasingly dysfunctional government that’s more interested in redistributing wealth than fostering a free-enterprise system, he said. As a unified party, America can return to a path of "growth and prosperity."
"There is too much to unite them. They share too many common opponents. There is no need for this hostility. The best way to end it is to agree to do something together that would be broadly recognized as great for our country."
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