The Meter reacts to the new Tea Party Caucus and latest GOP moves.
Don't-Tread-on-Meter: Jan. 31, 2011:33
Republicans have now held 25 roll call votes in the House. All but one of them have attacked the achievements of the last Congress—a big campaign promise—or cut spending that Republicans have targeted for years. The one outlier was a vote to provide flags in the Capitol for new Medal of Honor recipients, but conservatives will let that one slide. The other votes, like legislation that would end the public financing of elections, set the table for weeks of "cut and grow" programs.
Ah, but there's the rub—very little of what passes the House will breathe in the Senate. So the Tea Party promise that Republicans can deliver on might be their new oversight of the administration. That kicked off properly last week. Darrell Issa's oversight committee began its hearings with a critique of how TARP has worked so far; the oversight subcommittee on energy brought Cass Sunstein to the Hill and grilled him, with only a little success, on "job-killing" regulation.
The Senate, where Republicans don't run anything but have the ability to gum up the works, has been a promising Tea Party proving ground so far. Jim DeMint and Rand Paul have both proposed massive cuts, bigger than House Republicans want to deliver, closer to what the Tea Party wants. Sen. Pat Toomey is doing the movement a great favor with the Full Faith and Credit Act, legislation that attempts to end the "no debt ceiling rise and America collapses" argument by mandating that the Treasury prioritize debt repayment over anything else.
The Tea Party Caucus surprised some activists when its three founding members—DeMint, Paul, and Mike Lee—voted to save the "secret hold," an apparent whack at transparency. But the very existence of the caucus, which will hold as many events for activists as possible, is a nice movement victory. The Don't-Tread-on-Meter rises to 33.
What Is the Don't-Tread-on-Meter?
It will track the progress (or lack thereof) of the Republican House of Representatives, and the Republican conference in the Senate, in fulfilling the promises they made to Tea Party activists. The meter will hit 100 if and when the GOP does absolutely everything it promised.
You can now add the Don't-Tread-on-Meter to your blog or site. Just click the button in the lower right of the widget to get the code.
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David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or tweet at him @daveweigel.