Don't-Tread-on-Meter: Jan. 6, 2011: 12
The first 24 hours of the Republican House went almost as well as the Tea Party could have hoped. On a party-line vote, the House approved a rules package that cuts government spending from today to the day that Republicans pass a budget. Those cuts are based on recommendations from Budget Chairman Paul Ryan—it's up to him to set the budget ceilings, which has some Democrats trying to irritate the Tea Party by calling Ryan the "budget czar."
What's the Tea Party case against the rules? Republicans killed a Democratic measure that would have forced members and staff to disclose whether they use federally funded health care. It's not something Tea Partiers obsessed over, but it's not transparent, either. Republicans have implemented a "cut as you go rule" to theoretically match all new spending with cuts. It doesn't include the cost of a repeal of health care reform. But Republicans and Tea Partiers don't believe that repeal will cost money, so they're not sweating it.
The flashier but less important Tea Party victory today came in the Rules Committee. It held a preliminary hearing on how the vote to repeal health care reform—bill coming tomorrow, vote next Wednesday. That's what the Tea Party demanded all through 2010, and an unconstitutional hiccup—the rules committee was organized by a member who had not been sworn in—might not matter in the end.
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.
Bloggingheads Video: Ben Smith and David Weigel on the GOP Mandate To Cut Entitlements