Texas Tea Party Groups Send a Clear Message to President Trump: ‘The Freedom Caucus Is Not the Problem’

The Texas Tea Party will not be silent.

Last week, Republicans scrambled to form a circular firing squad in the wake of the American Health Care Acts’ failure to launch. Conservatives’ opposition to the legislation drew the ire of President Trump and members of the Republican Establishment, who (unfairly) attacked the Freedom Caucus for killing the bill.

But in a letter made available to Conservative Review, Lone Star state Tea Party organizations make clear that the Republican Party base in the highly consequential state of Texas stands with the Freedom Caucus in opposition to RINOcare. The letter was signed by over 90 conservative grassroots leaders and state GOP officials, and will be sent to President Trump Monday.

“To our dismay, the ‘repeal and replace’ plan put forward by U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) did nothing to address the core regulatory infrastructure of Obamacare, which means that American families would still see health care costs continue to rise until at least 2026,” the letter reads. “This is unacceptable.”

Public support for the American Health Care Act placed around 17 percent, per Quinnipiac polls. The Freedom Caucus members argue their push for more conservative amendments saved the Republican Party from political disaster. According to the leader of the organization that put the letter together, those members are exactly right.

“The Freedom Caucus is doing exactly what their supporters and their constituents sent them to Washington to do,” JoAnn Fleming told Conservative Review. “The Ryancare bill did not do what the Republicans promised they would do.”

Fleming is the Executive Director of Grassroots America – We the People, a political action committee that is “the largest constitutional conservative citizen organization in East Texas and one of the largest in Texas.” A volunteer conservative activist in Texas for over 25 years, Fleming also serves as the three-term chairman of the Texas Legislature’s TEA Party Caucus Advisory Committee, Chairman of Lt. Governor Dan Patrick’s Grassroots Advisory Board, and an adviser to the newly formed Freedom Caucus of the Texas state legislature.

“Frankly, the people that I work with in Texas, all these grassroots leaders on this letter – they worked their tails off to send Republicans to Washington and to offices at every level of government — to stand strong behind conservative, limited government, constitutional conservative principles,” Fleming said.

In the eyes of these activists, Fleming explained, the GOP plan was a betrayal.

If you go back and look at the 60 times there was a bill that fully repealed Obamacare, why now is that not the right kind of bill? What this does is it just peels back the façade. What this says to grassroots conservatives in Texas is, “You really didn’t mean it to begin with. You knew President Obama would veto any repeal that you sent to him, and so it was all political theater.”

Opposition to RINOcare was exactly what voters wanted from their elected representatives. The letter takes pains to drive that point home to the president.

With a bad “take it or leave it” bill on the table, the Freedom Caucus rightly believed they had a responsibility to protect both the GOP and the Trump Administration from the political fallout that would surely come in 2018 and 2020 when angry voters realized their healthcare costs did not go down and health care access did not improve. The Freedom Caucus had the promises they made back home and the long-term good of the American people on their minds and in their hearts when they opposed the AHCA.

President Trump’s pledge to “fight” the Freedom Caucus is baffling for these Tea Party activists.

Trump had long positioned himself as an ally of the Tea Party. And so, according to JoAnn Fleming, this letter intends to make clear exactly where one of the Republican Party’s most organized and enthusiastic voter base stands.

The point of this is we’re trying to say, “We don’t agree with you, Mr. President, on the approach you’re taking toward the Freedom Caucus and toward the promises we intend to hold the GOP to. They made a promise that they were going to repeal Obamacare, and that means take out all of the big government structure that was there, the mandates, and to get us back to a patient-centered, free-market based approach to health care. This bill did not do any of that and what we believe is that it would have driven up costs, premiums.”

The Tea Party groups of Texas urge Trump to work with the HFC to actually “drain the swamp.”

“We believe that he’s not going to be able to drain any Washington, D.C., swamp without the support and help of conservatives,” Fleming told CR. “That’s just a given.”

All signs point toward another attempt at Obamacare repeal happening sooner rather than later. Over the weekend, President Trump tweeted an attack on the “Fake News media” for suggesting that attempts at repeal were “dead.”

Some liberal Republicans have signaled they’d rather work with Democrats than join with the Freedom Caucus to come up with a conservative plan. The Texan Tea Party is not willing to follow President Trump down that path.

“Unfortunately, the president will be on the opposite side of many conservative grassroots leaders on the ground, in the trenches every single day,” should he continue to oppose the Freedom Caucus, Fleming said.

“This is what we do. We try to advance liberty through conservative principles. It’s not about the person. It’s not about a political icon. It is about principle for us.”

The dedicated hard work of the Tea Party base here in Texas, as well as all across the nation, has bestowed Republicans with historic majorities in Congress and placed the presidency in their hands. If the GOP believes Tea Party activists will go away or blindly trust the Republicans in control, they are mistaken.

“I have given up the best part of my life to do this, and I’m not about to change. I don’t do this because I don’t have anything else that I could do. I gave up a career in business to do this, and I do it because it’s the right thing to do,” said Fleming.

“Anything that makes it harder for my grassroots colleagues to do what they do in their own communities just kind of sets my teeth on edge,” Fleming said. “That’s where this letter came from.” (For more from the author of “Texas Tea Party Groups Send a Clear Message to President Trump: ‘The Freedom Caucus Is Not the Problem'” please click HERE)

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