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Michele Bachmann: The Reasoned Reformer from Minnesota

Michelle Bachman, a former Minnesota State senator, has served two terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. As a founder of the House Tea Party Caucus, she solidified national attention with her official Tea Party response to President Obama’s State of the Union address earlier in 2011.  She is a longtime advocate for foster children and adoptive parents, living out that commitment personally with 5 children and 23 foster children.

Background

Representative Bachmann, born in 1956, is a graduate of Winona State University, Oral Roberts School of Law, and the College of William and Mary School of Law. She was an attorney for the Internal Revenue Service from 1988 until 1993, a position that led to her advocacy for a simplified tax code and tax payer rights. She and her husband reside in Stillwater, Minnesota, where they own a Christian counseling service with over 40 employees. With five children and 23 foster children along with her advocacy for foster and adoptive children, she also is a member of the bipartisan Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute’s Advisory Board.

Political Career

Bachmann’s political career began in the Minnesota State Senate, where she served from 2000-2006.  As a state senator, she championed a Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.  Her experience working within the IRS led to her strong advocacy for simplification of the tax code and reduction of taxes on families and small businesses. In 2006 she was elected to represent the 6th Congressional District of Minnesota and was reelected in 2008.

Representative Bachmann began to move to national prominence as a voice for the Tea Party movement from within Congress. In 2010 she founded the House Tea Party Caucus and subsequently delivered the ‘Tea Party response’ to President Obama’s 2011 State of the Union Address. In that response she made the following powerful points:

  • When Barack Obama became our president, unemployment was 7.8%, and our national debt stood at what seemed like a staggering $10.6 trillion… the President’s strategy for recovery was to spend a trillion dollars on a failed stimulus program, fueled by borrowed money. The White House promised us that all the spending would keep unemployment under 8%. Not only did that plan fail to deliver, but within three months, the national jobless rate spiked to 9.4%. It hasn’t been lower for 20 straight months. While the government grew, we lost more than 2 million jobs.
  • Here’s a few suggestions for fixing our economy. The president could stop the EPA from imposing a job-destroying cap-and-trade system. The president could support a balanced budget amendment. The president could agree to an energy policy that increases American energy production and reduces our dependence on foreign oil.
  • The president could also turn back some of the 132 regulations put in place in the last two years, many of which will cost our economy $100 million or more. And the president should repeal Obamacare and support free-market solutions, like medical malpractice reform and allowing all Americans to buy any health care policy they like anywhere in the United States.

This speech, along with her rational approach to reform, has earned her the label of a “reasoned reformer” among conservatives and a wide swath of independents and Republicans.  She is also known to be unafraid to buck her own party, as she did over TARP during the Bush Presidency. Finally, Bachman embraces bipartisanism when it makes sense, like in attempts to curtail earmark spending.

As a member of the House Financial Services Committee, she has been deeply involved in oversight of financial sectors including housing, real estate and banking. Because of her tenure on that committee, she has been a consistent opponent to the taxpayer-funded bailout of Wall Street. More recently Bachmann was appointed by House Speaker John Boehner to a position on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, allowing for a role in overseeing the CIA, the National Security Agency, and the rest of the U.S. intelligence community

Issues and Views: Climate Change

As a U.S. Representative, Michelle Bachmann has been a consistently vocal opponent of climate change legislation. As an opponent of Cap and Trade Legislation, she stated, “Carbon dioxide is not a harmful gas, it is a harmless gas. Carbon dioxide is natural; it is not harmful…. We’re being told we have to reduce this natural substance to create an arbitrary reduction in something that is naturally occurring in the earth.”

Domestic Oil and Gas Production

Bachmann is an advocate for increased domestic oil and natural gas exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and the Outer Continental Shelf. After returning from a tour of ANWR, Bachmann emerged as one of the House’s most outspoken proponents for lifting the moratorium on oil and gas exploration there. She has championed a bill to open 200,000 acres of the Arctic reserve to oil drilling and establish a “Coastal Impact Aid” fund to protect surrounding native communities from any adverse impact.

Health Care/Obamacare

Bachmann has used her speech times in Congress to assail the President’s health care bill at every turn. Never shy to speak forcefully, she was quoted in 2009: “This cannot pass. What we have to do today is make a covenant, to slit our wrists, be blood brothers on this thing. This will not pass. We will do whatever it takes to make sure this doesn’t pass.” She has also offered positive and workable alternatives to health care reform including tort reform, insurance portability, health savings accounts, and an end to a multiplicity of state regulations that hinder private insurance companies from competing.

Environmental Protection Agency

Bachman is a longtime critic of the waste and intrusiveness of the EPA. In a recent debate she called the government agency the “job-killing organization of America.”

The Bottom Line

There is no doubt Michelle Bachman has the credentials to run for President. She has a solid private and public sector career track record and sits on two of the most important House Committees. The leftist media loves to attack her, which can only heighten her appeal to true conservatives. Some have called her the thinking man’s Sarah Palin. Whether that is fair to Palin or not, it certainly illustrates the position she has begun to assume in the conservative movement. The Washington Post and other national outlets declared her a clear winner in the recent New Hampshire Republican debate in spite of Romney’s lead in the polls.

Hard-core libertarians and liberals both see her as unacceptable. She is staunchly anti-abortion, and she is against American involvement in Libya but doesn’t follow Ron Paul’s isolationist tract either. Her response to a questioner at the New Hampshire debate, however, illustrated why Michelle Bachman is a force to be reckoned with. The questioner, a long-time Republican volunteer, worried Bachman would be too conservative for voters in the party like him. Her reply brought the longest single ovation of the night:

I’m the chairman of the Tea Party Caucus in the House of Representatives.  And what I’ve seen is unlike how the media has tried to wrongly and grossly portray the Tea Party, the Tea Party is really made up of disaffected Democrats, independents, people who’ve never been political a day in their life. People who are libertarians, Republicans.  It’s a wide swath of America coming together.  I think that’s why the left fears it so much.  Because they’re people who simply want to take the country back.  They want the country to work again.

And I think there’s no question …  this election will be about economics.  It will be about how will we create jobs, how will we turn the economy around, how will we have a pro-growth economy. That’s a great story for Republicans to tell.  President Obama can’t tell that story.  His report card right now has a big failing grade on it, but Republicans have an awesome story to tell. We need every one of us in a three-legged stool.  We need the peace through strength of Republicans, we need the fiscal conservatives, we need the social conservatives.  We need everybody to come together because we’re going to win.  Just make no mistake about it.

I want to announce tonight: President Obama is a one-term president.

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