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Will Tea Party Congressional Republicans drive Romney’s policy agenda?

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by Félix Pérez/Romney photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore

More than a few eyebrows were raised recently when an outspoken member of the Congressional Tea Party Caucus said Congressional Republicans, not Romney, will drive the party’s national policy agenda.

“We’re not a cheerleading squad,” said Representative Jeff Landry, a freshman from Louisiana. “We’re the conductor. We’re supposed to drive the train.”

Congressional Tea Party Caucus members have shown a willingness to go to extremes to get their way and to treat with disdain any attempt at compromise and moderation. Perhaps the best example was their attempt earlier this year to derail legislation that prevented 160 million Americans from getting hit with a tax increase and extended unemployment benefits for millions more.

Landry’s comments and the obstructionist tactics of Congressional Tea Party Republicans, particularly fist-term House members, leaves open to question whether Romney, if elected, will govern from the far right. After all, Romney has praised the budget proposed by Congressman Paul Ryan, a Tea Party favorite.

Ryan, chairman of the powerful House Budget Committee and oft-mentioned top-tier choice for Romney’s vice presidential running mate, included many Tea Party-favored ideas in his budget plan that asks children, working families, seniors, and persons with disabilities to make greater sacrifices than others. Among them: shift to Medicare vouchers that would fail to keep pace with the rising costs of health care, give millionaires and billionaires an average tax cut of $150,000, repeal the landmark health care reform act, and slash investments in programs that combat hunger.

According to an analysis by NEA, the Ryan budget would eliminate more than 190,000 Head Start slots for children from low-income families, lead to the loss of jobs of 29,000 special education teachers and teacher aides, and reduce or eliminate Title I services to 4 million students.

By comparison, President Obama’s budget proposal for 2013 singled out education for the single largest percentage increase of any discretionary item in the entire federal budget, as well as called for significant investments to provide career and higher education opportunities for all.

Less recently, President Obama led the successful fight for the economic stimulus bills that saved or created 275,000 teaching and education support jobs and prevented up to 280,000 teacher layoffs. And he cleared the way for passage of the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, which strengthened the Pell Grant program, helped student borrowers manage their student loan debt by capping repayments and invested in community colleges.

In remarks he delivered in Elyria, Ohio, this Wednesday at Lorain County Community College, President Obama contrasted his positions with Romney and Ryan this way: “What’s the better way to make our economy stronger? Give more tax breaks to every millionaire and billionaire in the country, or make investments in education and research and health care and job training?”

Learn more about Romney’s positions on issues that matter to educators and the middle class. Go to EdVotes’ Election 2012 page. You can also receive EdVotes’ weekly news digest in your inbox to make sure you have the latest news.

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