Tea Party surprise

The Tea Party is coming to town. The number of seats won Nov. 2 by Tea Party-backed candidates doesn't matter; the movement is coming to Washington and will dramatically alter the Republican Conference in the House as well as the one in the Senate.

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) knows this and has seen it coming. Even if he doesn't become Speaker, he will be leading a more conservative group of Republicans. Since he wants to win as many seats as possible and to become Speaker, Boehner started giving to Tea Party candidates even before some of them won primary races against establishment candidates, according to today's Washington Post.

The story notes that Boehner has "exceeded all other House members in collections from Wall Street, with more than $2.9 million — and ranks at or near the top of members favored by large health insurers, oil firms, student lenders, drug manufacturers and food and beverage companies, according to tallies of campaign disclosures."

The irony, highlighted by this report, is that many Tea Party candidates are running against the influence "special interests" have over the legislative process. Steve Stivers, running in Ohio, received $14,000 of Boehner's help, and the Post notes Stivers has accused his Democratic opponent, Democrat Mary Jo Kilroy, of supporting "taxpayer-funded bonuses given to failed Wall Street executives."

Is Stivers aware that Boehner — and most of the GOP leadership they are coming to work with, if elected — voted for the much-maligned Troubled Asset Relief Program we hear candidates railing against on the campaign trail ?

How do the Tea Party candidates feel about the fact that the Chamber of Commerce received millions of dollars from corporations this year for its $200 million spending spree on the midterm elections of 2010? According to The New York Times, the Chamber's election drive is a record-setting effort aimed at helping Republicans more than 90 percent of the time.

Finally, once a debate over the outsourcing of jobs begins in earnest in a new GOP majority, we will find out just how many free-traders there are among the likely freshman class of Tea Party candidates. Probably not too many. Once those new Tea Party Republicans learn how establishment Republicans in leadership vote on trade, they might be quite shocked.

There will be interesting answers to these questions after the election.


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