As the president and the Speaker of the House announced the tentative deal for the rest of FY2011's spending, I said on MSNBC that the Tea Party was all set to go along with it. It will be easy to get an angry statement or quote, sure. As the deal was cut, Tea Party Nation, which doesn't seem to do much but issue angry press releases, promised a primary challenge to John Boehner. But only 20 Republicans -- 18 of them freshman -- voted against the short-term CR that is giving members breathing room before the long-term CR. There's no groundswell of anger on the right.
Over the weekend, I asked Jenny Beth Martin, co-director of Tea Party Patriots, whether the organization backed the deal.
"In February the government incurred a historic high $233 billion deficit," she said. "At best, they agreed to cut $38.5 billion in spending over the next six months. Are we disappointed? We think those numbers speak for themselves. This country needs bold and visionary leadership, something that seems sorely lacking in those "leading" today. The fight will continue in the days and months ahead, and Tea Party Patriots is in it for the long haul."
I think we're going to see Tea Party activists rally or express second thoughts as we learn more about what's in the CR.
This is what the House Appropriations Committee has announced so far.
$2 billion in spending from transportation and housing programs - including $1.5 billion from High Speed Rail Corridors and Intercity Passenger Rail Service Capital Assistance, $280 million from Capital Investment Grants, $149 million from the Public Housing Operating fund, and $25 million from the University Community Fund.
These are not the deep cuts the Tea Party cares about, but they are cuts that will anger liberal constituencies, and the reaction is going to flow from there.