Katie Couric Interviews Tea Party Leaders

For this week's installment of @katiecouric, CBS Evening News Anchor Katie Couric spoke to Tea Party leaders Michael Johns and Kellen Guida about their movement and the frustrations of those who identify with it.

The Tea Party movement, Johns said, was a "visceral reaction" to the idea that "our federal government was growing too large, that too much power was being centralized, and government bureaucracies that the American people were over-taxed, in some ways over-regulated."

"And that the genius of the American dream, the genius of American liberty as enunciated by our founders was always a belief in individual liberty and individual freedoms," he continued.

Johns, a health care executive and former speechwriter for President George H.W. Bush, added that "it's a hugely patriotic movement." He said the direction of the Obama administration is "an antithesis in many respects of what our founding fathers envisioned."

Guida, an unemployed architect who organized a New York City tea party, said his activism grew out of the bank bailouts. He said that while he didn't believe the government should have let the banks fail completely, he was bothered that midlevel banks and small businesses were allowed to fail while big banks were given a bailout.

Small businesses are "not seeing any lending," he said. "They're the ones that do the actual hiring for the economy. So when you have the government saying, 'We need to get lending again so we can create jobs, and we're also gonna give the government some money to create jobs,' at the end of the day, the real economic driver of this country, the small businesses, are standing there with nothing still."


Johns went on to say that central to Tea Party beliefs are "the defense of our country, the defense of our borders."

"It's astonishing to most Americans that we can put a man on the moon, but we can't defend our southern border against illegal immigration, and that's troubling."

He also slammed health care legislation, complaining of a "lavishly expanded" government role, and called for the proposed "Enumerated Powers Act," which would require Congress to show where each new piece of legislation is justified in the Constitution.

He called for "reducing the tax burden on American people," saying because of government intervention it's reached a point "where it's become not a particularly great country to do business in too many cases."

Couric asked Johns whether the Tea Partiers were focused on social issues as well as fiscal ones.

He said that while his pro-life views have been "generally embraced," the movement is decentralized and "the uniting factor is fiscal responsibility."

Watch the full interview above, and check out these individual clips:

Background of Tea Party Movement
Tea Partiers Outraged by Bailouts
Tea Partiers on Health Reform
Tea Partiers on Social Issues

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