South Florida Tea Party Chairman Everett Wilkinson thinks the GOP budget — and in particular its call to phase out Medicare and replace it with a marketplace for private insurance — is a total disaster. He’s saying that Republicans, including members in his sphere of influence like Rep. Allen West (R-FL), should back away from it.
In an email to fellow Tea Partiers last week, obtained by The Palm Beach Post, Wilkinson called the GOP plan a “public policy nightmare” that could trigger “huge Democratic wins in 2012,” and prompt Republicans to blame the Tea Party for their losses.
“Republicans will lose if they support the Ryan Medicare plan. Americans do not support the [Paul] Ryan plan,” he wrote. “Expect the GOP to then blame the Tea Party for losses.”
The GOP’s Medicare plan polls terribly everywhere, so it makes sense that some conservatives in states like Florida with large elderly populations are jumping ship. But Florida has also become a redoubt for conservative policy, and high-profile Republicans there are heavily invested in the GOP plan already. Either this places a wedge between electeds and the base, or else Republicans like West, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) will have to rethink their positions — and explain away their votes.
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.