Tea Party: Republicans as Much to Blame as Dems

Republican Senate nominee Marco Rubio of Florida, left, and Ken Buck, the Republican Senate nominee for Colorado, both aligned with the Tea Party movement, on "Face the Nation" Sunday, Sept. 26, 2010.
Marco Rubio, the Florida Republican Senate nominee aligned with the Tea Party movement, went on the offensive against the GOP on CBS' Face the Nation Sunday, saying that both the Republican and the Democratic parties are to blame for the country's problems.

Rubio said that politics today is "full of people that think they can say or do anything, because once they get elected they think they'll raise so much money they can make you forget."

Rubio took on Florida's popular incumbent Governor Charlie Crist in the primary for the Republican Senate nomination and won. (Crist left the party before the primary and is now running as an independent.)

The candidate, who has become one of the poster boys of the Tea Party movement, said that Republicans need to be held accountable.

"Remember, the Republicans had a majority in Washington for the better part of 10 to 12 years. They didn't fulfill some of the promises they had made in '94 when they were elected - things like a balance budget amendment, things like banning earmarks, things like term limits," Rubio said.

"If you say you're going to do that and you get elected, then do it."

Ken Buck, the Republican Senate nominee for Colorado, also said incumbent Republicans are "every bit as much to blame for where we are right now as Democrats."

Buck said, "We have to find some discipline from outside of Washington, D.C., and impose it on our Congress and executive branch."

But Buck supported the "Pledge to America" tax plan, in which Republicans suggest extending all of President George W. Bush's income tax cuts permanently - at a cost of some $4 trillion over 10 years.

Democrats are proposing to keep the rates where they are for individuals making up to $200,000 and for families earning up to $250,000, but to let the Bush tax cuts for wealthier individuals and some small businesses expire as planned. Their plan would cost $3 trillion.

Buck said the Democrats' plan amounts to a tax hike.

"We have a tax rate right now. Increasing that tax rate to me is a tax increase," Buck said.

He also proposed setting up a constitutional balanced budget amendment and to enact restrictions to keep federal spending under control.

"What do families have to give up in order to pay for the government spending, the overspending that's going on in the federal government? I come down on the side of low taxes because I think it's going to generate jobs in this economy," Buck said. "We are clearly heading off a cliff."

Schieffer pressed Buck on statements he made earlier in the year about never voting to confirm a pro-abortion candidate to any federal positions.

"I won't use abortion as a litmus test. But if someone is pro-abortion - not just pro-choice, not just believing that abortion should be rare, limited - but if someone is promoting abortion, I think that goes beyond the, outside the boundaries of, normal politics. I will not support a candidate that is pro-abortion," Buck said.

Schieffer pointed out that what Buck was describing fits the description of a litmus test.

"I don't understand that. You say you won't support a candidate who is pro-abortion but you won't use that as a litmus test. That is a litmus test, is it not?" Schieffer said.

"I won't use abortion as a litmus test with a pro-choice individual. Someone that is an activist on the abortion issue I think goes outside the pale, and I cannot support an activist on the abortion issue," Buck replied.

The Denver Post reported this week that Buck has since softened his stance on abortion.

Schieffer also asked Rubio about reports earlier in the year that he supported privatizing social security.

"No, I do not believe it should be privatized," Rubio said. "I don't believe it's outlived its usefulness. I think it's an extremely important program and it should be preserved and saved."

Rubio said that his mother is a beneficiary of social security.

"She turns 80 this year. It is her primary source of income. Without its existence her life would be very hard and difficult," he said.

Rubio said he doesn't want to see any benefit reductions or changes for current retirees or people close to retirement. He also said he hopes social security will survive his children's generation, but will ensure that the system won't bankrupt the country.

"We want to keep it how it is for current beneficiaries because these are folks that have paid into the system," he said. "Younger workers like myself, people 39 years of age like I am, we're going to have to accept that there's going to be some changes to social security.

"Perhaps they're going to have to change the way the benefit is indexed. Perhaps we're going to have to continue to allow the retirement age to fluctuate."

Schieffer asked Rubio whether he considered himself a Tea Party candidate.

Rubio said to think that way is a fundamental misunderstanding of what the Tea Party is.

"I think the biggest mistake being made by those who follow politics is they're trying to understand what's happening across our country through a traditional political lens, how you would view the Republican Party or the Democratic Party," he said.

"The Tea Party movement is an expression of what I think is a mainstream widespread sentiment in America that Washington is broken," Rubio said. "I think the widespread sentiment is that, we don't want to change America. We want to fix the things that are wrong in America. The Tea Party movement is an expression of that sentiment."

Buck said that, "the one thing that we have in common is a firm belief that the constitution should govern our role in Washington, D.C. We recognize the frustration for both what the Republican Party and the Democratic Party have been doing in Washington, D.C. And we're going there not to be part of the establishment."