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August 5, 2011

A Recipe for Failure

Joe Charlebois

The Tea Party is still the answer and the only hope to keep the United States from fiscal ruin. As the loosely knit group of like-minded fiscal conservatives becomes more and more organized, it risks the proposition of losing a large portion of its original supporters.


The strength of the Tea Party has – and will continue to be – its highly focused efforts to keep the federal government – and to a lesser extent state and local governments – in fiscal restraint. If the more organized Tea Party efforts broaden its target to include socially conservative issues, they will certainly delegitimize its efforts and fail to be relevant. They will become the target of both the left and liberal-leaning Republicans.


As the Tea Party sprang up its growth knew no traditional party boundaries and citizens from the full length of the political spectrum raised their voices in unison to decry the out-of-control spending, taxation and an ever-growing level of debt that generations from now will be paying.


The political establishment – regardless of party affiliation – is responsible for creating this fiscal monster. Power and prestige of political office have corrupted the system to a point that pulling the lever or checking the box for a particular candidate means that you in return will receive “gifts” in the form of pet projects for your hometown, new roads, or additional public assistance, which includes free cell phones in many states. This is Alex de Tocqueville’s prediction of bribing the peoples with their own money coming to fruition.


The recent budget battle – in which the Spendocrats and Spendicans were the only winners – resulted in no significant change in spending habits. According to the Cato Institute’s analysis of the budget deal “spending isn’t being cut at all. The “cuts” in the deal are only cuts from the Congressional Budget Office’s “baseline,” which is a Washington construct of ever-rising spending. And even these “cuts” from the baseline include $156 billion of interest savings, which are imaginary because the underlying cuts are imaginary.”


In fact the analysis goes on further to point out that no programs or agency terminations are forthcoming and that the deal will eliminate only $22 billion, or just less than 1 percent of the federal budget.


For all the posturing of the politicians in Washington regarding the “crisis,” little has changed except for the fact that the debt limit has been raised and austerity measures will be put off until the next presidential term is underway.


Due to the lack of success in getting real cuts in this deal and the unlikely scenario that any true cuts will happen prior to the next election cycle, the Tea Party needs to stay true to its broad based appeal to a grassroots style of fiscal conservatism. Adherents need to hold their elected officials feet to the fire and truly cut the outrageous level of spending, fight for a balanced budget amendment and cap the debt level.


If those in the Tea Party add social agenda items such as gay marriage, abortion and other hot-button issues, they will quickly cease to exist as a strong broad-based grassroots coalition but rather be branded – by the mainstream media, the left and liberal leaning Republicans – as a fringe cause with little clout and little credibility.


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