The recent Budget battle only starts the the real war against the simplistic “ideals” of the Tea Party. The dream of a return to better times through smaller government and lower taxes is beginning to fade. The problem is that a movement that gained strength with the impending peril of the great recession, is now loosing popularity in the face of continued recovery.
It’s not that we don’t have to get the country’s deficit under control, we do. It’s just we don’t and shouldn’t employ the draconian measures that seem to comprise the heart of the Tea party’s plans for the nation. Very damaging to the chants of “Were broke!” is the failing examples of England and Ireland who determined that attacking their debts while their economies were still early in recovery was the best strategy. As it turns out cutting services further depressed the economy and the private firms that were supposed to fill-in the jobs that were cut from government were reticent to jump at the chance.
Both countries are now projecting even larger deficits and an incensed citizenry. They both hurt their tax roles and increased their unemployment, but I suppose it was worth a try, if for nothing else to prove the problem is not so simple as reducing spending.
Out of this first battle, President Obama ended up looking very much like the only person in Washington willing to do what was necessary and the outliers on both sides are back to beating their drums against him. But the bigger fights are still to come and I wonder if he will fare as well for those? I do have hope now that we will be at least OK when the smoke clears. Cooler heads did prevail and although we suffered through a lot of “stunts” the government found a way to go on.
Of course the President only did what he thought we wanted, most of us anyway. That’s the trick to being a successful politician, do what most of the people want, and at least enough of it to continue being a politician. You don’t get to do anything if you don’t stay in office.
The President correctly came to the conclusion that his own party and the all-powerful independent vote were not for cutting things like Planned Parenthood, Pell grants and yes, even NPR. Even with all the Republican focus on the supposed economics of the cuts, most percieved a “social agenda” or thought they did. They definitely saw that these cuts were trivial and not worth stopping the government for. Most of all the President has sensed a country that wants it’s government to stop feuding and get to work.
Not a good day for the Tea Party though, looks like being part of the Republican team is not working out they way they expected. Too many Washington insiders. Too many “old hands” who know how the game is played. Too many simple phrase-worthy answers for horrendously complex problems.
If it’s not too late they may want to split off, although with declining fortunes maybe its better to be a small fish in the big pond than take ranks with the likes of the Green party or the Libertarians. It’s not over for those brave and strident souls, but only being able to amass a demonstration of less than 300 for the big spending battle told us all the tables are tipping.
And while that may not be good for the Tea Party, it does mean that things are turning more hopeful. That is very nice. The markets continue to climb, jobs are starting to return or be created again. It even looks like housing may make a comeback sometime in the distant future. That’s still quite a ways off though.
Next we get to the main events. The first will be raising the debt limit, which will happen. There will be fireworks, and agonized charting of future “death by debt” but it will happen. It will happen for the simple reason that neither party wants to be the first in history to have the US default on it’s debts. I predict the Bush tax cuts will die as well, bringing in another 380 billion in revenue. There is nothing quite like making more money to cure a debt problem.
As we press on into what is going to be a very hot summer, the temperature of the rhetoric will rise and fall and I suspect that the fatal realization that may of us here on SWI will encounter will change the tide battle on things like social security and medicare. After all when it comes down to it, someone who has paid in faithfully for 30 years does not want to hear “we’re broke” when it comes time to pay up. That’s when the baseball bats start to come out.
Copyright Prentiss Gray 2011