published Thursday, January 13th, 2011

Tea party activists visit Tennessee's lawmakers

NASHVILLE — Tennessee Tea Party leaders arrived at the Legislature on Wednesday, vowing to push their agenda of smaller government and less taxes and hold the new Republican majority accountable.

"We're going to watch very closely what's going on at the Legislature; we're also going to watch very closely what's going on in local government," said Ben Cunningham of Tennessee Tax Revolt, a longtime anti-tax activist.

Cunningham said the "enthusiasm of the tea party is, if anything, ramping up. ... People want to get involved. They want to hold their government accountable. They want their elected representatives to conduct themselves according to tea party principles."

About 20-25 leaders and members of groups from across the state later fanned out to press lawmakers on five issues, including having Tennessee oppose the federal health care reform law enacted last year by Democrats in Washington.

Other issues include having an elected state attorney general, which would require amending the Tennessee Constitution, or creating an elected "solicitor general."

Activists are upset with state Attorney General Bob Cooper, who is appointed by the state Supreme Court. He has refused to join a number of other states that are suing to block the federal health care law.

Other tea party initiatives include:

• Ending state "subsidies" for unfunded or what the group considers unconstitutional mandates.

• Ensuring state judges uphold the primacy of the U.S. and Tennessee constitutions. Tea partiers want to impeach state judges who cite references to foreign law in their opinions.

• Educating students on the "truth about America." Activists contend that "neglect and outright ill will have distorted the teaching of the history and character of the United States."

Rep. Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, the new House Republican majority leader, was among lawmakers the tea party activists visited.

"I think I was in basic agreement with all of the points that they made," McCormick said. "There are some practical problems we'll have to work through on federal funding."

He said some issues will have to be addressed at the state level.

Hal Rounds, a Fayette County activist, said lawmakers do need to pay attention or face the consequences in 2012 elections.

"We will judge them on the basis of what is constitutional and what's in the best interest of America and its values, and we will go into the next election cycle working with the people who have helped us and against those who haven't," he said.

More: Haslam sticking to no layoffs in his first year

about Andy Sher...

Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...

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earlbishop said...

Let me tell you one thing that the best health insurance plans has completely different set of meaning for different type of people. For those who are rich, the plan which can earn them more is best. However, those who are in the middle class have different ideas. They think that insurance plan is the best for which they will have to pay minimum premium. However, the poor person does not even know that what is health insurance? If you are one of them search online for "Wise Health Insurance" and get smart about insurance.

January 13, 2011 at 2:32 a.m.
mikebfromky said...

Do teapartiers think we aren't paying for the uninsured already? The cost of the uninsured is reflected in the high cost of care. Really??? someone doesn't know this.

January 13, 2011 at 10:42 a.m.
tomkaine00 said...

I am glad that the T.E.A. party wants more emphasis put on the teaching of the constitution. Perhaps they would like to come to my class when I teach that lesson so that they can learn about the Articles of Confederation or the Confederate States constitution, and learn that these documents placed "states rights" above all else and these constitutions limited the power of a central government and both failed. The U.S. constitution provided for the framework for a strong central government(FEDERAL). I would love to teach them about the arguments for the US constitution and the strong federal government that is outlined in the Federalist Papers. Yes it would be so grand to actually educate our children about the constitution.

January 13, 2011 at 11:37 a.m.
ceeweed said...

How many of you tea party people think our President is a Muslim? How many of you believe our President was born in Africa? How many of you have a Medicare card in your wallet? When will you turn in your Medicare cards and shop the open market for affordable health care insurance? So, you all want to make sure that our children are taught "the truth about America"? NEWS FLASH!, Just because you may believe something does not mean it is true.

January 13, 2011 at 12:56 p.m.
hcirehttae said...

"Activists are upset with state Attorney General Bob Cooper, who is appointed by the state Supreme Court. He has refused to join a number of other states that are suing to block the federal health care law."

Bob Cooper has more intelligence, integrity, and constitutional understanding in his left little fingernail than... grr... I was about to say something vitriolic about the Tea Party, but I will tone down my rhetoric.

Their message against big bureaucracy and out-of-control spending rings true with the American middle class, but they seem to think their faction has been anointed to speak for us all on a range of matters. They do not represent me on issues like elected vs. appointed attorneys general, constitutional intepretation, or separation of powers. Consistently, the Tea Party expresses a simplistic understanding of government and American history, and I'm dismayed by the absurd things they say under the rubric "the truth about America." I am expectant that their sojourn into education will be as brief as their attention span.

January 13, 2011 at 1:24 p.m.
mella_yella said...

They want smaller government? The powerful forces behing their agenda are just using them. What they will do if they have their way is take those jobs controlled by the government then place them in the private sector but will still rely on government "handouts" for several years to operate. That's how your major insurance companies became so powerful. They remained not-for-profit for several years. Place all their family members, friends and others on the board and got rich off government funding. Then they broke away and became for profit, but continue to receive money from the government by way of government grants and other handouts.

January 13, 2011 at 1:42 p.m.
LibDem said...

"Tea partiers want to impeach state judges who cite references to foreign law in their opinions." Finally we get the Ten Commandments out of our courts.

January 13, 2011 at 2:30 p.m.
jpo3136 said...

Let's be clear about this: this is a Republican Party action. No exceptions.

When the Tennessee State GOP Chairman, Robin Smith, got the permits for, organized, paid for and was the keynote speaker at our area's first "Tea Party" rally, it became clear: these are Republican Party activities.

Look who pays for this: Republicans. Look who provides the material support for this: Republicans. Look who gains from co-opting the 10% of Libertarians in attendance and hiding behind them: Republicans.

This is a Republican activity. There is no "Tea Party." It's the Republican Party's franchise for embarrassing and aggressive conduct.

It's not fooling anybody, and it needs to stop. These people need to get it together and deal with the public honestly. Putting a false name on these actions does not erase the fact that these are Republican party actions.

Ever since Senator Corker's boys got promoted to the state GOP office, they've made sure to erase any website allusions to the state Republican party's "Tea Party" rally activities.

We saw the state GOP chair, Robin Smith, speaking at the first event here in Chattanooga. We're not ignorant. Right there, on stage, in public, she told us directly that the state Republican party put together that rally.

Please report the observed facts. This is a Republican party activity. It's funded, supported, coordinated by them. It's their franchise, actively working for their advantage. The events prominently feature their leaders.

We're not fooled. There is no Tea Party in Tennessee. It's the Republican Party, acting up in ways that they don't want to own up to.

January 13, 2011 at 3:29 p.m.

What scares me as much as the Tea Party itself is the TFP reporting of this incident. Mr. Sher portrays the Tea Party goals for education as noncontroversial. Upon further reading (the Memphis paper gave a few more details http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2011/jan/13/tea-parties-cite-legislative-demands/) the educational goals actually stated by the Tea Party activists are radically reconstructive. They suggest leaving out any minority experience that might obscure the contributions of the Founding Fathers. When politics demands a white wash of history, we end up creating a dangerous environment of ignorance. It seems like an important detail to add to TFP reporting of the education demands from this group.

January 13, 2011 at 7:12 p.m.
wethepeople said...

A lot of nutty comments on here. But the one by "jpo3136" takes the cake and is completely ignorant and uninformed. As one who was intimately involved in the very first Chattanooga Tea Party on 4/15/09, I can assure you that Robin Smith had ZERO involvement with the organizing, permits and paying for anything at the Rally. She was one of 10 speakers and received no more time than any of the other speakers.

Further, the Tea Party's frustration and discontent has been directed at both parties -- have you missed the numerous articles in this same paper about the outcry over Corker and Alexander's votes on various pieces of legislation?

And continuing on, did you miss the recent comments by Hamilton County Republican Chair Delores Vinson in which she disparaged Tea Party members by referring to them as "cultish"? Hmm, that's a strange thing for the head of the Republican party to say about the group that they own, fund and control.

Finally, did you miss the fact just a few months ago that the Chattanooga Tea Party formally endorsed an independent candidate for Congress, Savas Kyriakidis? Let's see, that really makes a lot of sense for the organization that is funded and controlled by the Republican party to go against the Republican Party candidate and support an Independent!

Get real with your facts, "jpo3136"! Clearly you have constructed your own little conspiracy. Have you ever been to a monthly tea party meeting? Have you ever seen how their activities are funded? Have you ever taken the time to find out for yourself or do you just drink the KoolAid from the biased, liberal national media?

If you want the truth, go to the source. Go attend a Chattanooga Tea Party meeting for yourself, meet the people, and then speak intelligently. I'll bet you'll find that those involved in the Tea Party movement locally are merely law abiding citizens who love their community, state and nation and care more about the Constitution, and the principles and values that made this nation great than any party, personality or power structure.

Go ahead, check them out and then maybe we'll listen to your views in the future.

January 13, 2011 at 9:33 p.m.
Facts said...

JPO3136 and wethepeople need to stop exposing themselves as either late to the table or Democrats. When Robin Smith was TNGOP Chairman, she worked very closely with us in the Tea Party. She understood that on the national level, the GOP had left the conservative, constitutional roots.
Because she was sincerely interested & completely understood, and understands, the mission of the Tea Party, she was asked to BE the key note speaker at the first event held in TN in Feb. 2009, long before all the other Tea Party events in April. It truly is amazing the intimidation this woman has on liars and hypocrits based on the fact that she tells the truth & calls out as many Republicans as Democrats.
You both are clueless.

January 13, 2011 at 10:15 p.m.
wethepeople said...

Facts, you need to get your "facts" correct. The point I made was not to disparage Robin Smith (who I personally supported for Congress) but that Ms. Smith had no personal involvement in the organizing and funding of the Chattanooga Tea Party Rally in April 2009. This is a FACT. She was merely a speaker at our first event.

Note I did not say that Ms. Smith was not a supporter of the Tea Party! Her views and values are clearly more in sync with the Tea Party than the GOP. She was one of the few candidates here locally who regularly attended our meetings. But that does not make the Tea Party a front for the GOP which was the false claim that jop3136 was ludicrously making.

In the future take the time to read what I wrote more s-l-o-w-l-y!

January 13, 2011 at 10:57 p.m.
citizensumner said...

Yes, the Tea Party wants more emphasis on the Constitution, and especially the Federalist Papers. The U.S. Constitution does not call for a "powerful central government" as I suspect you already know. Out of a couple hundred people that could realistically be called Founders, the only one for a strong central government was Alexander Hamilton. Perhaps the best, simplest summation of the roles of the national and state governments was given by James Madison in Federalist 45:

"The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government, are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will, for the most part, be connected. The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State."

January 13, 2011 at 11:04 p.m.
citizensumner said...

Clevelander, nobody is suggesting obscuring facts. What we need is teaching about the Constitution and founding of the nation in the words and documents of the Founders, teaching of the source materials they used (most people don't even know what Natural Law is despite it being probably the most important concept in our governing documents). We need to start learning about liberty, property rights, basic economic principles like in the "Wealth of Nations" - these are the things that transformed a backward, tyrannical, impoverished world with minimal scientific advancement into the technologically advanced and prosperous world we have today in barely a couple of centuries. The world now has more than 100 written national Constitutions and more people living in freedom than ever before, because we first established our Constitution and created a government designed to protect and promote liberty.

January 13, 2011 at 11:18 p.m.
rolando said...

Well said, citizensumner. Huzzah!

January 13, 2011 at 11:29 p.m.
hotdiggity said...

By all means, lets let the tea party follow the example of the Texas educational system and seek revisionism for our children's education.

http://thinkprogress.org/2011/01/13/tennessee-tea-party-education/

This is what tea baggers consider the "truth about America."

January 14, 2011 at 12:11 a.m.
citizensumner said...

mikebfromky: Do teapartiers think we aren't paying for the uninsured already? The cost of the uninsured is reflected in the high cost of care. Really??? someone doesn't know this.

Mike, if we're already all paying for the uninsured, then why do you want the legislation to start with?

The high cost of healthcare is almost entirely caused by our current 3rd Party Payer system, which has created a form of socialized healthcare already with all the terrible economic consequences and inefficiencies that go along with it, which are too numerous to list here. The exact WRONG solution is to force EVERYBODY into a 3rd Party Payer system, whether it be the government or private companies. The RIGHT solution is for the government to stop incentivizing, promoting, and providing "comprehensive health insurance."

January 14, 2011 at 9:06 a.m.
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