As Congress begins its month-long August Recess (the House broke on July 31 and the Senate is due to leave town August 7) politicians may be evading Washington, D.C.’s sweltering summer heat, but for some the political temperature has just begun to rise.
It was not long ago that a newly-elected President Obama—joined by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and a liberal Congress of seeming juggernaut status—was feeling his oats and talking up an ambitious big government agenda that before summer’s end would see, among other things, a hostile government takeover of America’s health care system and a new energy tax in the form of a draconian cap and trade carbon emissions scheme. The sheer specter of such threats sent shivers down the spine of those who love liberty. But in planning their socialist utopia, the left apparently didn’t count on conservative grassroots and the pressure they would bring to bear.
Thousands of “Tea Party” protests began in earnest in the spring where by most estimates upwards of a million limited government activists attended thousands of events all over the country to express their outrage at Obama and the Democratic leadership in Congress’ continued push to dramatically expand the size and scope of government on the backs of the American taxpayer. The tea party phenomenon not only reinvigorated the right’s grassroots base (in desperate need of a shot in the arm after the left’s 2008 electoral gains) it also served as a warning to more moderate and centrist lawmakers as well as vulnerable members of the Democratic Caucus in Congress facing tough reelection fights just a year away. Thus, significant sand was thrown in the gears of the Obama-Pelosi-Reid machine and they saw policy priorities like health care and cap and trade slip past their planned summer timeline.
These set-backs for the left were seen as opportunities for conservative grassroots groups on the right to increase pressure on key legislators in opposition to big government reforms while they are at home during August. I know as chairman of FreedomWorks, our activists will be out in force to oppose the two biggest threats currently on the table—government-run health care and cap and trade—at the hundreds of town hall events and listening sessions that will take place throughout the country.
Putting on a brave face, Pelosi recently had this to say to a reporter who asked whether or not she was concerned about this conservative grassroots maelstrom: “I am not afraid of August. It’s just a month.”
But if Pelosi and others think merely hunkering down during the month of August will get them over their rough patch, just wait until September gets here.