MYRTLE BEACH, South Carolina–At the South Carolina Tea Party Convention here on Sunday morning, leading Tea Party conservative Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) said foundational changes to D.C. politics will be needed to achieve a conservative agenda.
“We must change the incentive structure in Washington,” Bridenstine told the crowd of roughly 500 people.
“You’ve got collusion between Republicans and Democrats in Washington, D.C,” Bridenstine said. “They’re coming together and they’re making deals. You guys have probably heard of the Ryan-Murray budget deal? It does nothing to stop the $6.4 trillion that will be added to the debt over the next 10 years. Nothing. But everybody wants you to come in and vote for it,” he added to loud applause.
Bridenstine, a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan who flew fighter jets for the Navy, has emerged over the first year of his first term in Congress as one of the most likely lawmakers to challenge the GOP leadership from the right.
Addressing the simmering debate in Washington over the role of the conservative “outside groups,” including Heritage Action, the Club for Growth, and the Senate Conservatives Fund, Bridenstine specifically endorsed the groups’ aggressive use of vote scorecards to punish wayward Republicans.
“There’s nothing more that politicians like less than these scorecards,” Bridenstine said during his speech on Sunday morning. “Why? Because they’re being exposed.”
Bridenstine said there are few true believers in D.C. who are more interested in securing a conservative agenda more than protecting their own skins:
There are three ideologies in Washington, D.C., and a lot of people don’t realize this. The three ideologies are conservatism–which there are very few people in Washington, D.C. who have that ideology. The second ideology is liberalism. There is a lot of those. The third ideology is that of power. What you is these career politicians making deals, dealing with the lobbyists. Whatever the lobbyists are interested in, that’s what they’re going to do. Why? Because it’s in the best interest of their re-election. Whatever deal they make with the lobbyists is in their best interest because they’ll be able to generate revenue for their re-election campaign. Well, there are organizations out there like FreedomWorks that are holding them accountable. They’re changing the incentive structure so it is no longer good for politicians to be making deals with lobbyists and trading votes back and forth inside the beltway. They are holding people accountable. It’s an important thing. So, when you think about FreedomWorks or you think about Heritage Action or the Club For Growth or these kinds of organizations, they are doing what needs to be done in America right now which is stopping this collusion between inside the beltway politicians and of course the lobbyists.
“What this comes down to is you’ve got Republicans and Democrats trying to come together but what we need is fighters,” he said. “We need people who will stand up and say ‘no, we’re not going to do this anymore and, oh, by the way, we’re going to go tell the American people what’s happening.'”