Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid does not mince words when he talks about the Tea Party. In fact, he belittles the grassroots organization that drove the near sea change in representation in the House of Representatives during the 2010 Midterm Elections, helping to make it not only a Republican-dominated legislative body but also one of an overwhelming Republican majority. But that hasn't stopped the Nevada Democrat who narrowly defeated Tea Party Republican Sharron Angle in his own campaign for re-election to the Senate. With budget negotiations ongoing, Reid took time out to diminish the importance of the Tea Party by dismissing their budget rally near Capitol Hill on Thursday.
"Unfortunately, today my colleagues in the House seem to be listening to this small but loud minority," Reid said, pointing out to USA Today that there were only "tens of Partiers" at their rally.
Reid has gone after the Tea Party in the last few days, deriding their seeming disproportionate influence on other members of the GOP. After a CNN/Opinion Research Corportation poll revealed that the Tea Party fell in overall favorability since January but their unfavorable rating rose 21 points (although that number is only 4 points above the December rating), CNN reported that Reid felt that Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) had been pressured by the movement but insisted the " country doesn't care much about the Tea Party."
Reid said that more than half the country felt unfavorably towards the Tea Party (he was off by 4 percent; the actual poll percentage was 47 percent). "The Tea Party's unpopularity continues to grow," the Senate Majority Leader said. "Because the American people sees how unreasonable they are. So let me reiterate my hope that the Republican leadership recognizes they can't continue to be pulled to the right by the radical, unrealistic, unreasonable...faction: the Tea Party."
He added, "If people want to move the country forward, they can't let the Tea Party call the shots."
Boehner has been handed the uneasy task of controlling factions within his party that are sometimes at odds with each other -- the moderate Republicans and the more conservative Tea Party Republicans. The Tea Partiers and those that agree with them are adamant in their stance on reducing the size of the government, reducing taxes, and decreasing the or not adding to the budgetary woes and the national debt. The more moderate Republicans feel the need to compromise with Democrats who are just as adamant to keep certain programs in the budget, regardless of cost.
And the Tea Party is not welcoming compromise at any level, hence the rally on Thursday to pressure Republicans to push for even deeper spending cuts to the 2011 fiscal budget. The movement threatened to challenge anyone that allowing a compromised budget to pass, including Speaker Boehner.
It has been reported that a tentative deal had been reached by Democrat and Republican lawmakers to cut $33 billion from the budget. The House passed the current bill before the Senate with $61 billion-worth of spending cuts.
Boehner said of the reports of a deal, "As I said yesterday [Thursday], there is no number; there is no agreement on a number. We are going to fight for the largest spending cuts that we can get, and I'm hopeful that we'll get it as soon as possible."
A recent poll produced by the Associated Press-GFK revealed that the Tea Party enjoyed the support of 30 percent of Americans, a number consistent will three other polls taken since October.
Even with Senate Majority Leader Reid's obvious dismissal of the importance of the movement, it is uncertain if Speaker Boehner can afford to antagonize a faction that enjoys 30 percent support from the American people.
Saul Relative holds degrees in History and Secondary Education, and he taught school in West Virginia in the '80s and Virginia during the '90s. A student of politics and political movements, he began writing articles covering the political maneuverings of the Bush administration in 2004. Saul turned to writing full-time in 2008, dividing his time between reading and writing about politics and entertainment.