The Tea Party held a rally outside the Capitol Building today to demand that congressional Republicans demand significant cuts in federal spending. The outlook is bad. House Republicans are fighting to hold on to the $61 billion in spending cuts they approved in February, a mere rounding error in a budget totaling about $3.8 trillion.
Today’s rally shows how the Tea Party has continued the fight to make itself heard in Washington. But in Ohio there’s a new focus: local politics.
“I have no expectation of anything coming out of congress that’s going to be very close to what I’d like to see happen,” says Chris Littleton, president of both the Cincinnati Tea Party and the Ohio Liberty Council, which is an umbrella group of 65 Tea Party and other activist groups in the buckeye state. “But we can have a greater degree of effect at the state level.”
The Ohio Liberty Council is appointing a designated representative in every congressional and state senate district; Tea Party groups across Ohio are throwing support behind mayoral, city council, and school board candidates, with the intention of effecting policy but also building a farm team for higher office; and city and county Tea Party organizations are breaking apart into more localized groups comprised of precinct and block captains who regularly go door-to-door to court the votes of their neighbors.
However, the Ohio Tea Party is attempting to influence one local politician with outsized influence on the national stage: House GOP Majority Speaker John Boehner. As house minority leader from 2007-2011, Boehner rubber stamped practically every Bush-era initiative to expand the scope and size of the federal government.
More recently, Boehner has stated his support for increasing the federal debt ceiling, which will allow Washington to continue borrowing money to meet its obligations after it hits the limit (which is expected to happen before the end of May). The West Chester Tea Party, which is opposed to increasing the debt limit, has been contacting the Speaker’s donors, asking them to influence him to take a harder line on the issue.