Michele Bachmann: Tea Party a "Force for Good"

The controversial third-term representative from Minnesota has garnered plenty of press in recent months thanks in large part to her aggressive effort to tie herself to the Tea Party movement. Bachmann founded the House Tea Party caucus and also offered what she cast as a Tea Party response to the 2011 State of the Union address. Bachmann is a prolific fundraiser and has been visiting Iowa ahead of a possible run - but she is also somewhat isolated in Congress (her House leadership bid failed) and could be too far right for much of the electorate. More Coverage on Michele Bachmann CBS

Michele Bachmann
CBS

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), chair of the House Tea Party Caucus, tonight delivered a rebuttal to the president's State of the Union address that largely mirrored the official GOP response given by Republican Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.

Emphasizing the need for reduced government and free-market economic solutions, Bachmann's address highlighted the fact that the Tea Party's agenda is largely in sync with the Republican Party. However, her separate address, delivered the behest of the Tea Party Express, made clear that the Tea Party movement does not intend to walk in lock-step with the newly-empowered Republican congressional caucus.

Equipped with charts and supplemental imagery, Bachmann immediately said she was not there to "compete" with Ryan's message. "The Tea Party is a dynamic force for good in our national conversation," Bachmann said.

Bachmann blasted the "unprecedented explosion of government spending and debt" brought on by Mr. Obama's policies.

"Instead of a leaner, smarter government, we bought a bureaucracy that tells us which light bulbs to buy, and which will put 16,500 IRS agents in charge of policing President Obama's health care bill," she said.

Mr. Obama's stimulus program failed to deliver the job creation it promised, Bachmann said, referring to a chart showing unemployment rates over the past 10 years.

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"For two years President Obama made promises just like the ones we heard him make tonight," she said. "Yet still we have high unemployment, devalued housing prices and the cost of gasoline is skyrocketing."

Bachmann urged the president to support a balanced budget constitutional amendment and scale back government regulations. She also urged him to support an energy policy that reduces the nation's dependence on foreign oil without imposing a "job destroying" cap-and-trade system.

After the results of the 2010 midterms, Bachmann said, "there's reason for all of us to have hope that real spending cuts are coming... I believe that we are in the early days of a history-making turn."

CBSNews.com Special Coverage: State of the Union 2011

Watch Bachmann's response below:


And analysis of her response here:


Stephanie Condon is a political reporter for CBSNews.com. You can read more of her posts here. You can also follow her on Twitter here.

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