It had all the makings of a big time tea party rally: Presidential candidate Herman Cain, conservative Sens. Jim DeMint of South Carolina, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Mike Lee of Utah all showed up outside the Capitol Wednesday to urge members to “hold the line” against a deficit reduction compromise.
The only thing missing? A big audience.
At the start of the rally, which was organized by the American Grassroots Coalition and Tea Party Express, there were roughly 15 attendees waiting to hear the conservative lawmakers speak. By the time the senators had spoken there were still fewer than 50 tea partiers in attendance.
But that didn’t stop the conservatives from turning up the heat on the proposals Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid are preparing in the Capitol. Paul panned the Boehner proposal, saying that it “would cut next year $1 billion dollars,” and eliciting jeers from the crowd. “That is insignificant and not meaningful reform,” he said.
As DeMint spoke, Cain, who did not address the crowd, told reporters, “I believe that president and the Democrats have created this crisis to gain leverage over a plan to raise taxes, and the American people are saying that’s a non-starter.” Cain said he hoped Congress would “do the right thing, and the right thing is don’t raise the debt ceiling, get serious about cuts, and don’t raise taxes.”
“I don’t buy that there is going to be a catastrophe,” Cain said when asked what will happen if a deadline isn’t reached by August 2nd.
Reps. Louie Gohmert of Texas, Paul Broun of Georgia, and freshmen Joe Walsh of Illinois, also spoke. Walsh told the tea partiers his leadership deserved credit for their attempts to negotiate with Democrats.
“My Republican leadership in the House is doing a great job. Imagine having to negotiate with Barack Obama. Imagine having to negotiate with Harry Reid. Give John Boehner, give Eric Cantor all the credit in the world,” he said, “But embolden them. Let them know that the American people are ready for a real reform. They need your help. We need your help.”
Sen. Mike Lee, who authored the Cut, Cap and Balance bill, the said “We’re being attacked by the left for not having the right proposal, but they have yet to submit a single bill to address this issue. Ours is the only show in town.”
- How John Boehner is getting Republicans to unite behind his debt-ceiling plan. (slate.com)
- Thin crowd for Hill tea party rally (politico.com)
- Tea partyers rally for cuts, Boehner OK for now (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Tea Party Capitol Hill Debt Ceiling Rally Fizzles (outsidethebeltway.com)
- What Does The Tea Party Win If The United States Defaults? (bigthink.com)
- Memo to Tea Party: The US Government’s Budget is Not Like a Family’s (alternet.org)
- Tough week for Tea Party ends with fizzling rally (kaystreet.wordpress.com)