Hailing mostly from small towns and suburban communities throughout America, Tea Party Republicans in Congress claim to be advocates of small business. However, since helping Republicans regain control of the House in the 2010 midterms, the Party has offered no legislative solutions to jumpstart commerce and spark job creation. Instead, they vacuously suggest low taxes and large scale cuts in government spending as the best way to stimulate the economy. Rather than bringing new ideas to the table, the Tea Party consistently falls back on past policies of former GOP presidents as the answer to our nation’s recovery.
Restructuring the tax code and weakening the regulatory statutes is a crucial component of the Tea Party’s economic agenda. They support policies derived from the principles of supply-side economics or trickle-down economics, promoted by Don Regan, former Secretary of the Treasury and Chief of Staff under President Ronald Reagan. The Tea Party fails to mention that these policies fueled a recession early in Reagan’s first term.
Throughout the course of his presidency, Reagan was forced to contend with elevated rates of unemployment that peaked at 9.5% during 1982-83. Although the rate eventually shrunk to a rate of 5.2% by 1989, this high level of unemployment is still an indication of a struggling economy.
More recently, the Bush administration signed a series of tax credits into law in 2001 and 2003 which altered the progressive tax rates of President Bill Clinton. Bush administration officials claimed that these policies promoted growth within the private sector, specifically the small business community. But Bush’s tax loopholes overwhelmingly favored the nation’s wealthiest while offering minimal breaks for the middleclass. Moreover, from 2003 to 2007, job creation was almost nonexistent, indicating that it takes more than tax breaks for the rich to promote growth.
There are a number of bills before House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) intended to stimulate small business growth and job creation that include provisions for funding nationwide infrastructure projects. Due to its anti-government rhetoric and opposition to government spending, however, the Tea Party will not support these bills, to the detriment of small businesses.
As it gains in prestige and power in Congress, the Tea Party will be increasingly defined by the needs of large corporations, not small businesses. Throughout the debt deal, Tea Party representatives stonewalled the legislative process, an indication of their true intentions. Until it admits there is a place for the federal government in our nation’s recovery, the Tea Party will continue to support a destructive economic agenda that will not produce the growth we need.
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