Ron Paul warns Republicans not to further anger their base
By John Hudson Wednesday, December 5, 2012
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Ron Paul has a message for his fellow House Republicans trying to tame the Tea Party: Don’t. You’ll only make them angrier.
Paul is sounding the warning after GOP leaders booted four Tea Party supporters off the Budget and Financial Services committees in hopes of advancing a deal with Democrats that would keep the country from going off the fiscal cliff.
And Paul, retiring after 15 years in Congress, knows of what he speaks because he is a founder of the Tea Party movement.
The Texas representative told the Daily that the rare move by the Republican Steering Committee will harden the conservatives — three just wrapping up their first term — not soften them.
“They’re going to punish freshmen legislators? If you’re looking for dissension, then you’re going to get it,” Paul told The Daily. “These congressmen will never cave. They’re going to get the support of the people … They will become heroes.”
A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner insists the Steering Committee based its decision on several factors but detailed none of them to The Daily.
However, a GOP leadership aide told NBC News that the four members — Michigan’s Justin Amash, Tim Huelskamp of Kansas, Walter Jones of North Carolina and Arizona’s David Schweikert — were “clearly not team players.”
Last year, the foursome opposed the Budget Control Act, which raised the ceiling on the national debt. Before the measure, a stalemate between House Republicans and the White House threatened to send the country into default.
Amash echoes Paul’s assessment that the Steering Committee’s strong-arm approach will backfire.
“It just emboldens us,” Amash said. “I talked to a number of conservatives in the conference who are appalled at what happened. The leadership team have a growing rebellion on their hands.”
Tea Party umbrella group FreedomWorks, which just lost leader Dick Armey after a nasty fight about its future, is outraged by the calculated reassignments.
“This is a clear attempt on the part of Republican leadership to punish those in Washington who vote the way they promised their constituents they would — on principle — instead of mindlessly rubber-stamping trillion-dollar deficits and the bankrupting of America,” president Matt Kibbe said.
Paul doesn’t have strong enough words for the crackdown, calling the move unconscionable.
“It was amazing,” he said. “You get punched for actually having sincere beliefs.”