Tea Party Nation: What Would a Tea Party Congress Look Like?


But even as Tea Partiers support lower taxes, they also say they will balance the budget when they come into power. Ideas on how to do that have been mixed and murky -- Angle supports abolishing the Department of Education while Paul argues that federal entitlement programs should be cut and suggested raising the age for Social Security and Medicare recipients.

On social issues, expect more stringent rules on same-sex marriage and abortion -- which Tea Party candidates unanimously oppose -- more gun rights, and more state's rights on issues such as education and immigration.

Tea Partiers also argue that security on the U.S.-Mexico border should be tightened and illegal immigrants should not be given a path to legal residence.

The "Contract from America," endorsed by FreedomWorks and several other Tea Party groups, gives a glimpse into the direction that a Tea Party-controlled Congress would take the country. The contract offers few specifics. Instead, there are broad guidelines on economic freedom, ending "runaway government spending," stopping tax hikes and cutting earmarks.

The Tea Party phenomenon is not unlike the grassroots movement that propelled candidate-Obama to victory. Both were as result of strong anti-Washington sentiment and the idea that change is needed in the way the government works.

More than 35 candidates in the mid-term elections are backed by national Tea Party groups and an increasing number of those who are part of the Republican establishment are tuning in to Tea Party ideas.

Joe Miller in Alaska and Rand Paul in Kentucky have very strong chances to win their respective Senate seats.

"One of the beautiful things about the Tea Party is that it has attracted so many people around mainstream similar goals of getting our government back to basics and getting spending under control," said John O'Hara, author of "A New American Tea Party." "We can't continue on the same path."

While the Tea Party's influence is on the decline, according to the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll, enthusiasm within the group is still very high. Among registered voters who strongly support the movement, 92 percent said they were certain to vote next month.

Chernow, a Constitutional historian, said it's not uncommon to see such dissent and frustration when the economy is weak. But whether candidates actually fulfill their promises when they take power is another story.

"What we've found through American history is that very often people who run against Washington, once they control Washington, develop a taste for power or don't really have the courage to cut spending... every spending program has a constituency," Chernow said. "Under Ronald Reagan, the government continued to grow and increase entitlement programs, defense spending."

"It's easier for groups out of Washington to promise to cut taxes, often difficult to deal with in practice," he added.

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