Tea Party Express Chairman Amy Kremer led a press conference at the downtown Marriott Wednesday, calling out legislators who have not sufficiently opposed the Affordable Care Act.
Photo by Trip Burns
The Tea Party has berated President Barack Obama and his "socialist" policies since 2009. Now, they're directing their ire toward Republicans in the U.S. Congress who dare to support any legislation that funds the president's signature achievement, the Affordable Care Act.
The Tea Party Express, a California-based group representing the conservative wing of the conservative Republican party, rolled its bus tour into Jackson Wednesday calling on Mississippi's congressional delegation to oppose any funding for what they have deemed "Obamacare."
"You are a basically red state," Tea Party Express Chairwoman Amy Kremer said. "You have a large republican delegation, and the Republicans are a problem. It's not just the Democrats, it's the Republicans. ... We've been doing things the way of (Speaker of the House of Representatives) John Boehner and (Senator) Mitch McConnell (R, Kentucky) for too long. It's time to take some fresh ideas from the young blood that's in the United States Senate and the United States House (of Representatives) from members who are in touch with their constituents and with the Americans out across the country, and do it their way and see if it works."
Kremer is leading her fifth national bus tour as leader of the Tea Party Express, which she joined after leaving the Tea Party Patriots in 2009, a group she helped form. The former Delta Airlines flight attendant introduced three speakers at the news conference: Mississippi Sen. Chris McDaniel, Mississippi Tea Party Vice-Chairman Laura Van Overschelde and Tupelo Tea Party Lead Coordinator Grant Sowell.
Among the Mississippi politicians that have drawn the ire of the "Express" are U.S. Rep. Roger Wicker and U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran. Their crime? Supporting a budget that would keep the government running that does not defund the Affordable Care Act.
Earlier this month, ForAmerica, a group funded by the Tea Party non-profit America Inc., ran ads all but calling Wicker a chicken for not agreeing to shut down the government before funding the now-three-year-old law. While Wicker got most of the attention, Cochran, Mississippi's longest-serving congressional member, was not left out.
"I think Mr. Cochran has had too much of that Potomac water up there in Washington D.C.," Kremer said. "I think it's time for him to come home to Mississippi."
Despite the fact that the Tea Party Express is traveling the country calling out lawmakers who won't agree to shut down the government, Kremer said her group does not want to see the government shut down.
Instead, she said, they'd like to see Congress pass a budget that defunds the Affordable Care Act, while fully funding the rest of the government.
McDaniel, who has represented Ellisville in the state senate since 2008, brushed off the notion that such a bill would still have to be signed into law by Obama, who is unlikely to agree to defund his own health-care plan.
"It's a fair question," McDaniel said. "It really is, and it's a question that all politicians ask: How does a bill like that become law? I think the problem is that Republicans are asking that question far too frequently, and not fighting enough."
Van Overschelde, the lone state-level Tea Party organizer at the event, ended her comments with a stern warning to Mississippi Republicans who do not share the Tea Party's stance.
"If you're willing to support Obamacare, then you own it," Van Overschelde said. "And we are remembering that 2014 is coming."