Is the House Tea Party Caucus Paving the Way to Campaign Finance Reform?

Tea Party Caucus member, I mean hominid bust at the National Museum of Natural History’s David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Tea Party Caucus member, I mean hominid bust at the National Museum of Natural History’s David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Apologies for veering off topic from foreign policy this morning, but I feel compelled to weigh in on this eye-opening new trend among House of Representatives Republicans. In a New York Times article on October 9 titled Business Groups See Loss of Sway Over House G.O.P., Eric Lipton, Nicholas Confessore, and Nelson D. Schwartz report:

As the government shutdown grinds toward a potential debt default, some of the country’s most influential business executives have come to a conclusion all but unthinkable a few years ago: Their voices are carrying little weight with the House majority that their millions of dollars in campaign contributions helped build and sustain. … [Business] leaders and trade groups said … the tools that have served them in the past — campaign contributions, large memberships across the country, a multibillion-dollar lobbying apparatus — do not seem to be working.

Do you see what’s going on here? It’s usually progressives who oppose Citizens United and the influence of big money on elections. But it’s the Tea Party Caucus in the House who have thrown down the gauntlet on a kind of campaign reform. Representative and Tea Party Caucus member Randy Neugebauer (R-TX) is quoted in the article.”

“We have got to quit worrying about the next election, and start worrying about the country,” said [Neugebauer], who sits on the House Financial Services Committee and is a recipient of significant donations from Wall Street.

It seems as if he’s biting the hand that feeds him. The more likely reason he’s burning his bridges is because he’s safely made it to the other side – to a land where he probably feels confident of re-election because, due in part to redistricting, enough of his constituents in his districts are extremists like him.

Another reason that the Tea Party Caucus is turning its back on big business is that its members are funded by the anti-tax, anti-social welfare program Koch brothers and other rich extremist libertarians . (What’s left unexplained is how it helps the Kochs to promote a caucus that’s not friendly to big business. Perhaps their seeming lack of concern for the interests of other corporations is that so vast is their wealth they feel no need to team up.)

Nevertheless, in turning their back on a large money source, the Tea Party Caucus may have taken the first big step towards campaign reform. Progressives could take a lesson from their courage. Okay, maybe it’s not courage, just insanity. But still, give some credit where it’s due.