Dick Armey

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Dick Armey (1940-) is the chairman of FreedomWorks, a group guiding bottom-up activism for "lower taxes, less government, and more freedom". He also works in the lobbying division of a law firm, DLA Piper LLP. He retired as U.S. House Majority Leader in 2003, after 18 years as a Republican representative from Texas.

Educated as an economist, he spent 13 years as a faculty member, and eventually chairman of the Department of Economics at the University of West Texas. Previously, he taught at the University of Montana, West Texas State, and Austin College. [1]

First elected to Congress in 1984, and a strong supporter of Ronald Reagan, he was known for bipartisan collaboration while staying with conservative principles. The Wall Street Journal described him as "...tempering his tactics without abandoning his goals, he is getting legislation passed," and quoted him as "You can be so ideologically hidebound that you can cut yourself out of the process.


FreedomWorks is separate from, but supportive of, the Tea Party Movement, and was associated with a march on Washington, D.C. in September 2009. The New York Times quotes him as dealing with a political situation like that of the early 1990s, when “the Democrats had their hands on all the levers.” It paid him $550,000 in 2008. [2]

Government shutdowns

In a 2006 interview, he questioned the assumption that deficit-concerned voters always approve of any action to reduce the size of government. Asked where the party stood in its commitment to small government, he replied "Adrift and rudderless. They've really slipped their moorings. In the aftermath of 9/11, there was a general attitude that permeated the entire government: Money is no object. And that just became infectious across the board. They're completely out of touch with the vision we had in '94 and '95. It just went to hell.".[3]

Referring to that 1994 vision with Newt Gingrich, he said "Newt's position was, presidents get blamed for shutdowns, and he cited Ronald Reagan. My position was, Republicans get blamed for shutdowns. I argued that it is counterintuitive to the average American to think that the Democrat wants to shut down the government. They're the advocates of the government. It is perfectly logical to them that Republicans would shut it down, because we're seen as antithetical to government. I said if there's a shutdown, we're going to get the blame."

Further, he said the successes in 1994 were not small government but anti-Democrat. "Our basic thesis was that we could find 10 things that had high standing with the American people that were demonstrably kept off the floor for even a vote by the Democrats. The whole point of the Contract was if you give us the majority we will vote on these things in the first 100 days. People say the Democrats should do a Contract. The problem is they can't find 10 things that the American people embrace that we keep off the floor. They can find 10 things that their party embraces that we keep off the floor. But they don't have the majority party in America."

House of Representative


  1. About FreedomWorks: Chairman Dick Armey, FreedomWorks
  2. Michael Sokolove (8 November 2009), "Dick Armey Is Back on the Attack", New York Times
  3. Ryan Sager (15 September 2006), "Dick Armey on the Direction of the GOP", Real Clear Politics