Quotes of the day

“Can you believe this? House Republican, Tea Party Caucus Chairwoman, and extremist Michele Bachmann has now officially announced her campaign for President.

“Not only does she think she can win, but many pundits think she’s a contender. Even the latest polls show she’s in a good position.

“So why does this matter? Michele Bachmann is the EXACT kind of extremist we’re fighting to keep OUT of Congress. We have just 72 hours left to put together the strongest possible mid-year fundraising totals and put Tea Party Republicans on notice that that we’re going to defeat them in 2012.”

“Leaders from Tea Party groups in about 40 states gathered in the Washington offices of FreedomWorks, the libertarian advocacy group that cultivated the Tea Party movement. The weekend training session was aimed at educating them on legislative priorities as the Tea Party tries to transition beyond its role as a protest movement to one that has an impact in state capitols and in the 2012 campaign.

“A (completely unscientific) voice-vote straw poll of the (possibly unrepresentative) group, conducted by reporters, found almost no support and even a few groans for Sarah Palin; loud boos drowning out a handful of cheers for Mitt Romney; nays for Jon M. Huntsman Jr.; and support but dismissals that ‘he can’t win’ for Herman Cain. After reporters had called out the names of several presidential contenders, Tea Party activists called out another suggestion: Allen West, the newly elected representative from Florida who became a Tea Party rock star in the midterms. (Loud cheers, followed by a sober, ‘He’s not running.’ That prompted another suggestion: ‘Allen West for V.P.!’)

“On a voice-vote run-off (equally unscientific) among the apparent top three contenders, Mrs. Bachmann, a Minnesota Republican, seemed to do best among women in the room, while Mr. Perry did best among men, and Mr. Paul, also of Texas, did best among younger people in the room.”

“[T]he Minnesota Republican and her family have benefited personally from government aid, an examination of her record and finances shows. A counseling clinic run by her husband has received nearly $30,000 from the state of Minnesota in the last five years, money that in part came from the federal government. A family farm in Wisconsin, in which the congresswoman is a partner, received nearly $260,000 in federal farm subsidies.

“And she has sought to keep federal money flowing to her constituents. After publicly criticizing the Obama administration’s stimulus program, Bachmann requested stimulus funds to support projects in her district. Although she has been a fierce critic of earmarks — calling them “part of the root problem with Washington’s spending addiction’ — the congresswoman nonetheless argued recently that transportation projects should not be considered congressional pork…

“Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, a nonpartisan budget watchdog group, said such reasoning was “ridiculous,” adding: “That sounds like a pretty big loophole to me.”

“As Bachmann pursues the presidency, Ellis said, her record will face tougher scrutiny.

“‘If you want to talk about the debt and deficit and reigning in wasteful spending, you have to look in the mirror and make sure you’re living a fiscally pure life as well,’ he said.”

“The more relevant question for a politician such as Bachmann is whether she has broken from her professed small government principles specifically to advocate policies that would benefit her personally. And based on the Times article, there’s no evidence given that she supported the farm subsidies and health care spending that benefitted her family. In fact, the article notes that she voted against the 2008 farm bill. And that she voted against the stimulus bill. Sure, she later requested stimulus aid for her district, but again, her district is paying taxes to Washington and the same money is going to be spent whether or not it goes to her district.

“There are parts of the article that raise legitimate points about the purity of her record. For instance, the Times quotes a 2009 letter Bachmann sent to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in which she called for the propping up of pig products: ‘I would encourage you to take any additional steps necessary to prevent further deterioration of these critical industries, such as making additional commodity purchases.’ The article also highlights her attempts to argue that transportation projects shouldn’t count as earmarks.

“Each of these examples warrants additional scrutiny, but the rest of the story overreached.”