After an intense election year, and in light of President Obama’s re-inauguration this week, Don Wall, chairman of the Tree City Tea Party (TCTP), shared some of the party’s future plans and opinions.
“We’ve got our work cut out for us and we’re rolling up our sleeves,” said Wall, who confirmed that the Tea Party was not pleased with Obama’s reelection.
Wall expressed concern that many of Obama’s policies coming true are a disregard of restricted government. He is concerned that within Obama’s term, Obama has designated 43 "czars" as his advisors, 33 of whom are unconfirmed by the Senate.
President George W. Bush had 28 out of 49 unconfirmed, and the last president to have more than 10 unconfirmed czars was Franklin Roosevelt in 1933 with 17 out of 19.
Wall is also displeased that Obama wrote executive orders to get bills passed when congress didn’t follow his lead (many of which deal with the Middle East), and is also unsure that Obama’s changes are for the greater good. There is a procedure, said Wall, and the Tea Party does not feel Obama has been following the procedure as the founding fathers intended.
“President Obama keeps saying, ‘I’ll compromise as long as you do it my way’. That’s not compromise,” said Wall.
In response to that, one of the Tea Party’s points was "zero compromise." Wall said that compromise depends on the situation, and does not require abandoning the principles for which the Tea Party stands.
Wall said the Tea Party hopes to see compromise in finding a solution to the United States’ economic situation, and the ongoing debate on Obama’s agenda to raise taxes on individuals who make more than $77,000 a year - two of the points the Tea Party touts are requiring the government to accept fiscal responsibility, and limited government involvement.
Walls said that he had read that raising taxes on the affluent would run the country for eight days. He also referenced that, during the Ronald Reagan administration, taxes were lowered and the economy “took off.”
“Why can’t we talk about why that worked?” Walls asked. He also conceded that finding a fix to the economy is a complicated task with no single answer.
With big business struggling well after the 2008 bailout, and small businesses faring only slightly better, the Tea Party would like to see the government help small to medium range businesses get started, but step away from regulations.
The Tea Party is not content with a left-leaning Senate (53 democrats, 45 republicans, two independents), but hopes that the republicans and democrats can sit down and talk reasonably.
“I’d like to see us get back on course to where we were a couple of years ago,” said Wall, “where there was an opportunity for these guys to work together.”
The chairman added later that he doesn’t care which party is in the majority, as long as the policies the Tea Party wants are being pushed, and that he respects anyone with an involvement in politics.
When asked if the polarization between republicans and democrats will get better or worse, Wall said he feels the gap will become worse due to fractions within the parties.
Fractions were the reason the Tea Party chose to get behind a candidate, said Wall. Groups within the Tea Party all voted differently in a specific election Wall could not recall, and not one Tea Party-supported candidate was elected.
Wall proudly described how the Indiana Tea Party was the first to get behind a candidate, Republican Richard Mourdock who defeated longtime Republican Senator Richard Lugar in May's Primary Election.
“We got together and said, ‘What are we looking for in a candidate?’” said Wall. The Tea Party realized they needed unity to get what they wanted and hoped something similar could have happened in the presidential election.
Despite strong financial backing from the Tea Party, political experts believe controversial comments by Mourdock in the closing days of the campaign cost him the election to Democrat Joe Donnelly.
Republican Mike Pence was elected governor, however, and Wall said the Tea Party is pleased with that outcome.
The chairman said he was slightly discouraged that the Tea Party only has 24 percent approval throughout the nation, and that he hears people think the Tea Party is dying.
“It’s not dying,” said Wall, “Its changed its tactics.”
Wall said last year the TCTP has been attempting to move past Decatur County with networking, and plans to be involved in state politics in the next two and four years.
With Decatur County being 78 percent republican, Wall said Decatur County does not need the Tea Party as much.
The TCTP will still continue to pay attention to Republican Mayor Gary Herbert, and will still go to city and county meetings.
“Despite differences, the people in local government are good people and want to do the right thing.” said Wall.
Wall encouraged everyone to educate themselves on issues and speak to their representatives.
Wall said he has spoken to District 67 Representative Randy Frye, District 42 State Senator Jean Leising, District 43 State Senator Johnny Nugent, District 55 State Representative Cindy Ziemke, and former District 55 Representative Cleo Duncan.
“They have to know what you’re thinking,” said Wall. “I don’t know about you, but I’m not a very good mind-reader, and neither are they. So they’ve gotta know where your mind is.”
In Indiana, the Tea Party hopes for lower taxes, and was supportive of reimplementing Bush’s tax cuts.
Raising taxes, in the eyes of the Tea Party, is the last thing the country needs.
“Our current president is willing to raise taxes during a time of recession and that’s not the thing to do,” said Wall.
The Tea Party also wants to be a watchdog for “the bridge to nowhere” Wall said, or, keeping an eye open for frivolous spending.
The Tea Party chairman could not name anything that was on “the bridge to nowhere” under former governor Mitch Daniels, but said his party intends to keep state government on edge.
“We fell asleep once, and we can’t do it again.” said Wall.
On the subject hot button issues such as gun control and education, Wall offered his thoughts.
In terms of education in the Hoosier State, Wall said he felt former State Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Tony Bennett’s changes were for the better, though many of those policies came under fire in the 2012 election. Bennett was defeated by Democrat Glenda Ritz who was backed by a large contingent of teachers upset with Bennett's reforms.
On the topic of gun control, Wall suggested that school principals might be allowed to carry arms in order to respond to threats.
“Guns don’t kill people just like automobiles don’t. It’s the people that have them,” said Wall. “Limiting someone’s opportunity to have a weapon is not going to change what happens. Criminals do not pay attention to laws. There are 14,000 gun laws; maybe we should enforce them.”
Wall said he does not feel weapons sellers should be held responsible for ignoring background checks that indicate a history of violence from customers, who then go and commit more acts of violence.
“I’m not sure weapons sellers can be (held accountable) if somebody lies to them.” said Wall “I know that’s not the right thing to do.”
The Tea Party chairman conceded that he did not know what the solution is, but that something must be done.
Contact: Tess Rowing 812-663-3111 x7004