Friday, July 29, 2011

The Tea Party is Making Obama Look Good

By Alan Caruba

"There are plenty of ways out of this mess, but we are almost out of time," said President Obama on Friday morning. It only took from his Monday address to Friday’s to make Obama look good and, for that, we can thank the intransigent Tea Party element of the Republican Party.

When presidential candidate Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) says she will never vote to raise the debt ceiling, she is being unrealistic because the “ceiling” simply allows the nation to continue borrowing to meet its massive financial obligations. The time for cutting spending lies ahead and the Tea Party can play a role in that, but right now the United States of America is looking default in the eye and risking a downgrade of our historic AAA credit rating.

It is ironic that the author of much of the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt, achieved over three short years in office, can talk about the Republicans resisting Speaker John Boehner’s proposed legislation and correctly say they are risking “taking down the nation.”

A nation this sharply divided between Republicans and Democrats has gone to the mat at the eleventh hour far too many times whether it was TARP or Obamacare. The 2010 elections that gave power to the GOP in the House was a good step in the right direction insofar as it curbed Obama’s efforts to spend the nation out of the deep financial hole created over decades. It gave, however, majority power to only one element of Congress, the House, leaving the Senate in the hands of Democrats. There can be no change in the White House until 2012.

You don’t, however, cure the spending built into the nation’s budget, but putting its credit rating in jeopardy or giving President Obama the opportunity to scare senior citizens, veterans, contractors and everyone else with threats their checks are not going to be in the mail. That’s a recipe for anarchy.

Up to now the Republicans have made a succession of very good moves—all of which have been rejected by President Obama. The plan put forth by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) provided for $6.3 trillion in spending cuts in the first ten years. It will take ten years to winnow a debt that has been building since the introduction of “entitlement” programs in the 1930s and 1960s.

As Peter Ferrara who has conservative credentials as long as your arm wrote in The American Spectator, the Ryan plan would “drive federal spending to 15% of GDP, well below the postwar historical average of 20%. Ryan’s budget included tax reform to get the economy booming again, with a 25% top income-tax rate for incomes over $100.000 a year, and a 10% rate for incomes below that.”

Lest we forget, noted Ferrara, “the first act of the new GOP House majority was to vote to repeal Obamacare. That means $1 trillion in spending cuts, and $500 billion in tax cuts, during the first ten years alone, as scored by the CBO.”

The Tea Partiers in the House do not want to take yes for an answer when it comes to the gains that can be secured if the debt ceiling is raised and the 2012 elections promise to put a GOP candidate into the Oval Office and capture power in the Senate. They can have it all if they support Speaker Boehner.

As Wall Street Journal columnist, Kimberly A. Strassel noted Friday morning, referring to Speaker Boehner’s prolonged negotiations with President Obama, “Instead he realized that this White House had no intention of agreeing to serious debt reduction and that it cared primarily about tax hikes. His decision to call off the talks earned him some catcalls, but it reset the political dynamic.”

That was evident in President Obama’s Monday primetime address to the nation that was universally seen as offering no plan and no leadership. By Friday morning the dynamic had changed as Speaker Boehner became the man unable to achieve a resolution to the current crisis; all because Tea Party dead-enders could not see their way clear to a compromise.

This is precisely why the President is effectively beating up the Republicans in Congress.

As Strossel correctly noted of Speaker Boehner and the House Tea Partiers, “What he did do this week is position his party to take credit for a bill that averts a crisis, cuts more spending than any Democrat thought possible, and exposes the White House’s insincerity on the deficit and economic prosperity. The Republicans who yesterday undermined (the) bill now bear sole responsibility for whatever political fallout comes next.”

If that is four more years of President Obama, it will be because Tea Partiers refused to compromise, to be realistic, and to understand that you don’t turn around decades of bad social legislation in a day.

They now have a weekend left to see the light or take down the Republican Party and the nation.

© Alan Caruba, 2011


Gustav said...

How did the $830B "stimulus" spending become a quantity of spending that is now fixed in our annual budgets every year? Why must we spend $4T each year, when just a few years ago it was $2.5T? When does the government diet begin? Years from now?

This doesn't sound plausible to me at all, Alan.

Alan Caruba said...

A few years ago, let's say 9/11/01, the US was not engaged in two wars, including the Libya conflict. Wars are very costly.

The demographics of the nation are changing and in this past decade, a lot of Baby Boomers started collecting Social Security and using Medicare.

All I am arguing for is the Boehner plan to preserve our AAA credit rating and, yes, even have some spending cuts.

Without it, financial anarchy ensues and not just for the US.

Travis sez said...

Here's a way to tell if someone is lying with the aid of teleprompter:
The liar's lips turn a shade of maroon or purple. The credit ratings are an indication of the trustworthiness of the American economy. When someone says grandiosly, "Everybody's interest rates will go up", it doesn't apply to fixed rate loans, only to REFIs and prospective loans. If my Soc. Sec. payment doesn't arrive, it will be Obama's game of "chicken".

Capital Cities Curmudgeon said...

The Tea Party people aren't strong enough -- numerically or ideologically -- to pull the entire Republican Party all the way to their viewpoint.

What I think they can do is prevent the mainstream of the Republican Party from going squishy and giving the Democrats something they can use to claim victory.

Unknown said...

To me, it just seems like one big game of "chicken". Let's see how far we can push it before someone flinches and gives in. In the end, you know they will sign something at 11:59PM, Aug 1 and disaster will once again be avoided - for now. As we all know, it's very easy to dig yourself into a deep credit hole, but it takes a long time to scratch your way to the surface and climb out.

We didn't get into this mess overnight and we will not fix it overnight. I think the best we can hope for now is something that will keep us afloat for a while and pray that we can elect enough of the right people in 2012 who get us back on the right fiscal track.

Steve M.

Guy in Ohio said...

Rush played a few sound bites today, in which the liberal talking heads related their frustration with the freshman Tea Party members of Congress. "They just won't accept the promises of campaign funds, and they won't accept promises of committee appointments ..."

Anderson Cooper said "It's kind of refreshing ..."

That's about the first time I've ever agreed with anything he said ..

Michael said...

Alan -

I must disagree with your points somewhat ... the Tea Party is putting some calcium in the Republican Party. For too long, compromise or bi-partisanship is code for we-on-the-right-compromise-our-principles and the the big spenders (either party) rock on. Putting off many hard decisions in the past has brought us to harder decisions today.

I think chances are high we will lose our credit rating regardless of the deal, at least for the short term. I take no pleasure in any downgrade as it punishes us all, regardless of political ideology. However, running in panic to make a deal - any deal - just to comply with an artificial deadline or to assume the mantle of "willing to compromise" will only bring us another TARP/Porkulous/Obamacare with spending mostly unabated.

Rich Kozlovich said...


When I was in the service….mega years ago…. I had the privilege of working with the most advanced computer systems the world had known. And if the temperature dropped five degrees they all shut down; but not a big deal….we went manual. When Y2K was supposed to destroy the entire world’s economic system one of my customers asked me what I thought. I said….the electricity will not go off….they will go manual….even if they have to turn the turbines by hand. It didn't go off.

There will be no default. Social Security payments will continue to be paid because there is a special tax collected directly for that. To use it without going through the procedures they normally use to steal it would be theft that would be criminal. They will make the interest payments on debt, they will fund the health care they are obligated to fund and then they will all of a sudden see things they don’t need and find ways to do without.

It is impossible to declare that “x” amount of money will be cut in ten years because each budget has to be voted on….so that is illusionary, otherwise make the cuts in the same year as the increases.

The fact of the matter is this; if there is funding there will be spending. Stop funding and the cuts will happen now! I believe that this disaster no more real than Y2K….and we need to find out for sure. As for the faith other countries have in the U.S. dollar and credit worthiness. Make no mistake about this….they will get over it and re-invest once all this is resolved because the American system of capitalism is based on private ownership and that has been the engine that has pulled the world’s economy for many years….and it will be even stronger after this fight is over and the socialists have their funding clipped.

The American economy is a force of nature when it is released and refusing to waste more money is a good start in releasing that force.

Alan Caruba said...

@Rich: I agree with you!

Gustav said...

I agree with Rich K, too.

agraves said...

Mr. Caruba, you are panicking like many weak rinos. Show some strength. Don't worry about how things "look". The American people know what is going on and some compromises must be made at this point. The tea party is simply forcing the issue, something that Washington is not used to. Learn how to fight for what you want and don't give up!

agraves said...

Mr. Caruba, please show some courage. The tea party is presenting something unusual in Washington, they are there to fight, whether the elites, rinos, etc. like it or not. My advice to you is don't panic because of some bad press about the tea party. They are not the problem. My prediction is that Mr. Obama and the dems will come out of this wounded and damaged. The tea party will be strengthened and conservatives will win in 2012.

Alan Caruba said...

@agraves. What I want is to have the debt ceiling raised so that the US does not lose its AAA rating and can continue to pay its debts. I am against the wasteful spending, but it is separate in my view from the debt ceiling issue. In the past, the ceiling was routinely raised for both GOP and Democrat administrations. And maybe that's the problem, but it will take a decade or more to end the spending and revise the entitlement programs In short, one step at a time.

Ronbo said...

As I've said many times before, the question of reform is moot - the Titanic has already hit the iceberg and the Great Sinking of the American economy for the second time in less than 100 years is inevitable no matter what the passengers in First Class do at this late date.

Like the good old country boys in Florida say, "Son, if you dance the tune, you will pay the piper."

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