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Saturday, May 19, 2012

Is Tennessee not TEA party enough?

Some think the TEA party is pushing too hard in Tennessee. Others, not hard enough.

In 2010, Republicans wooed the tea party movement, promising them lower taxes and constitutionally limited government — where real power would devolve to the states and the federal government would be restricted to areas like national defense.

In return, tea party activists helped Republicans expand majorities in red states like Tennessee and take the U.S. House of Representatives and 20 state legislative chambers around the country.

These Republican majorities have pushed voter identification and anti-abortion bills, or followed Wisconsin's lead in curtailing public sector workers' collective bargaining rights....

....Their own attempts to pass bills have been less successful, even for groups that have embraced the legislative process. One such group lobbied hard for a Health Care Compact bill, written by the Health Care Compact Alliance and embraced by many tea party activists. Last fall the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council termed it "model" legislation.

Approved in six states so far, the compact is touted nationally as a conservative alternative to President Barack Obama's health reform. Individual U.S. states would control healthcare spending, though many tea party groups oppose any government control of healthcare. To work, the compact needs U.S. congressional approval.

Michael Barnhart of the Health Care Compact Alliance says without grassroots conservative support, the bill generally does not fare well.

Despite more than a year of intense tea party lobbying, the compact failed in Tennessee because many Republican state representatives present simply did not vote on it. Although a majority of votes cast were in favor, it fell short of a required absolute majority in the House.

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