The two youngest and perhaps the two most conservative new senators in the 112th Congress, Sen.-elect Mike Lee of Utah and Sen.-elect Marco Rubio (pictured)
of Florida, tell Newsmax that the Republican Party is evolving to be increasingly in step with the grass-roots conservative policies of the tea parties.
As Lee put it, the two entities in the wake of the midterm elections are “in lockstep.”
There is reason to believe that the political détente between the tea parties and the GOP establishment, which tried to fend off tea party challenges during the GOP primaries, is indeed taking hold.
On Tuesday evening Senate Republicans took a voice vote behind closed doors, passing a resolution for an earmark ban. That was a key plank in the Contract From America promoted by FreedomWorks and major tea party organizations.
When Newsmax asked Rubio for his reaction to Sen.-elect Rand Paul’s recent call for creation of a Senate tea-party caucus, Rubio replied: “We’re going to have that conversation. But I think the most important thing to remember is that the Republican conference is going to be the alternative.
“I want the Republican conference to represent the values that the voters sent us up here to represent,” Rubio explained. “Republicans have said we’re going to be the party of limited government, of fiscal constraint, of dealing with the national debt, that we’re going to be the party that takes America’s national security threats seriously and addresses all of that . . . so I want the Republican conference to represent those values and I think we have the chance to do that.”
Lee, the tea party favorite whose unseating of GOP incumbent Sen. Bob Bennett in Utah’s GOP convention in May sent shockwaves through the Republican establishment, said he believes the tea party movement and the Republican Party are now almost indistinguishable in terms of ideology.
“As I’ve always said, the principles underlying the tea party movement are in lockstep with those embraced by the Republican Party,” Lee told Newsmax. “So it’s sometimes difficult to separate out what the difference is between where tea party ends and the Republican Party principles begin, because they are in lockstep.”
Lee said it is difficult to gauge the impact that he and the energetic, young tea-party-oriented senators will have on Congress.
“But I think the results of this fall’s elections have shown that voters throughout the country are demanding more in terms of fiscal responsibility, in terms of moving toward a balanced-budget amendment, it terms of aggressive earmark reform and things like that,” he said.
Rubio and Lee both blasted the Democratic strategy of doubling down in supporting Obamacare and fighting the GOP-led extension of the Bush-era tax cuts.
Rubio said many factors are hurting job creation, but says president’s healthcare reforms are “certainly right up there” near the top of the list.
“It’s created a tremendous amount of uncertainty in the private sector. It’s difficult for [businesses] to calculate the cost of doing business in America. That’s why I’ve said Obamacare needs to be repealed and replaced."
Asked what the government should do to spur job growth, Rubio replied: “The most fundamental thing we can do is provide a stable environment where people know what the rules are going to be.
“One thing we’re going to have to deal with in this lame-duck session, before [new senators and House members] even get here is whether the existing tax code is going to be allowed to expire, and if so, taxes are going to go up,” he said, adding, “I don’t think this is the time to raise taxes on anybody.”
Lee called Democratic resistance to extending all of the Bush-era tax breaks “a huge mistake.”
He noted that President Barack Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi continue to lead the Democratic Party. “If they want to continue to push to increase taxes,” Lee said, “it will prove to be a grave mistake for them as a party.”
Lee called Reid’s recent statement opposing the extension of the tax cuts “disappointing.”
“I think it’s a big mistake,” he said, “because the worst thing you can do in the midst of the greatest recession in a generation is to increase taxes. When you increase taxes you discourage investment, and investment is what’s necessary to increase jobs. If we increase taxes right, now we’re going to kill jobs. And we can’t afford to do that.”
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