Presidential candidate Michele Bachmann, appearing Sunday on all five major news shows fresh off a victory in the Iowa GOP straw poll, repeatedly characterized herself as a “fighter” and defender of antitax and small-government principles in Washington.
Her self-portrayal is meant to counter suggestions that she has a slight record of accomplishment after 4-1/2 years as a US House member. Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who dropped out of the GOP presidential race Sunday, had suggested as much leading up to the straw poll, emphasizing his own experience as a chief executive – a credential shared by candidates Rick Perry, governor of Texas, and Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts, who are both very prominently still in the hunt.
Congresswoman Bachmann cited her position at “the tip of the spear” in conservatives’ fight against raising the national debt ceiling, President Obama’s health-care reform law, and legislation to regulate the banking industry in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. Though all were losing battles for her and her tea party allies, Bachmann said her determination to “fight the fights” and to stick with her principles are what qualify her to be president – not whether she has ever served as a governor.
“Ronald Reagan was a governor. But what made Ronald Reagan great wasn’t his governing experience as a governor. It was his core set of principles,” Bachmann said on ABC News’ “This Week.” “Jimmy Carter was also a governor. But I don’t think anyone would argue that America prospered and flourished under Jimmy Carter’s presidency. … It’s really, who is the person and what is their character?”
Bachmann also made clear that she will push for immediate changes to federal entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare in order to curtail government spending. During this summer’s Washington debate over raising the national debt ceiling, she was adamant that Congress should not do it.
Her plan? Assure the markets that the US will pay interest on its debt. Then pay members of the military. Then pay current recipients of Social Security. After that, she said, get down to the business of reforming entitlements.
“This isn’t some project for 10, 15 years down the road. Right now we’re going to reform entitlements,” Bachmann said on “This Week.” “We’re going to reform them for anyone who’s currently not on them. We’re going to change them so they’ll work. Medicare, Medicaid – they have to be changed.”
She did not specify how the programs for seniors and the poor would be changed, other than to seek “efficiencies” and to “modernize” them. President Obama, too, had indicated willingness to address entitlements, but as part of a “balanced approach” to shrinking the deficit and debt balance sheet that included some new revenue and, most definitely, a higher debt ceiling.
Bachmann, a former tax litigation attorney, also slammed the corporate tax rate as too high, insisting that it is an impediment to more people starting companies and creating new jobs.
She directed most of her fire at Mr. Obama, describing him as “flailing,” and she avoided direct criticism of fellow Republicans vying for their party’s presidential nomination. She said she “would not rest” until she sees “Obamacare” repealed, and she blamed Obama for bringing the country to the edge of default, not her own tea party compatriots.
Since this summer’s debt debate, the tea party movement’s standing with the US public has dropped to a new low, a new CNN/Opinion Research poll shows. Thirty-one percent of Americans say they have a favorable view of the tea party, down from 37 percent in mid-July.