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STEVE CHIOTAKIS: Michele Bachmann has made a name for herself in the Tea Party. And the Tea Party brands itself as fiscally conservative with a pledge of low taxes and lowering the nation’s budget deficit.
Well Ryan Lizza is a reporter for the New Yorker magazine. In this week’s issue, he’s got a story about how Michelle Bachmann came into her economic ideals. Ryan Lizza, welcome to Marketplace.
RYAN LIZZA: Good morning, thanks for having me.
CHIOTAKIS: You got it, how has Michelle Bachman gotten her economic philosophy?
LIZZA: In both the religious side of her policy portfolio and the economic side, she has talked about this time in her life when her father abandoned the family — that thrust her family into poverty. On the economic side, she also used that story as the foundation of her anti-government, anti-spending, anti-welfare sentiments. In other words, if she got by, if she survived without the help of the government, then everyone else should, as well.
CHIOTAKIS: While she didn’t get any assistance, perhaps when she was younger, she is getting assistance today, right? At the firm that she and her husband have and also in the farm subsidies, right?
LIZZA: Most of her and her husband’s income has been from the government. She gets out of law school and works for, of all places, the IRS. Her husband, meanwhile, he’s a psychologist. He starts a Christian counseling service, and you know, like anyone else in the medical profession, takes Medicare and Medicaid and to add to that, you know, her husband has received plentiful subsidies for a family farm in Wisconsin.
CHIOTAKIS: He was an evangelical at even a very young age — how do you think that affected her economic views?
LIZZA: The thing that social conservatives and fiscal conservatives have in common is a suspicion of the government. That’s the thing that keeps this coalition together. So it doesn’t matter that one group cares about abortion, the other care about taxes. They both want the government out of their lives.
CHIOTAKIS: Do you see her economic views as evolving? Running for president, you kind of have to dart to the center, right?
LIZZA: Her whole life has been defined by the social issues — she only got deeply involved in the economic issues in the last few years and now of course she’s running for president, where the issue is spending — that is the issue that she’s embraced. So, there is a bit of a transformation here. I don’t think that means that her views on social issues — I don’t think any of that has gone away. But, I think she’s downplaying it now, because she knows it could turn off some of the voters she’s trying to attract.
CHIOTAKIS: The article is called Leap of Faith. Ryan Lizza, reporter for the New Yorker . Thanks for being with us.
LIZZA: Hey, thanks for having me.
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