Why the Tea Party is Not Wacko Conservative Extremists, But Rather a Force For Good
“Government is not the solution to the problem; government is the problem.”
Remember when Ronald Reagan was elected president by a wide majority in this country when he ran on that philosophy? “From time to time we’ve been tempted to believe that society has become too complex to be managed by self-rule, that government by an elite group is superior to government for, by, and of the people. Well, if no one among us is capable of governing himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else?”
How about Bill Clinton’s “The era of big government is over” speech? “We know big government doesn’t have all the answers. We know that there isn’t a program for every problem. We know and have worked to give the American people a smaller and less bureaucratic government in Washington. And we have to give the American people a government that lives within its means.”
Republican or Democrat, both parties used to understand that an economy cannot be engineered by big government. Both parties practiced and valued fiscal responsibility, and both parties acknowledged that limited government, balanced budgets, and adhering to the Constitution were good things.
What the hell happened over the past decade?
Let’s start with the Bush Republicans of the 2000s. Coming into office with a budget surplus left from President Clinton and the Newt Gingrich-led GOP Congress, one of the first bills Bush decided to sign was the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 — a sweeping piece of legislation that cut tax rates across the board.
In the following years, however, the Republicans in the White House and Congress did not adjust spending levels to comply with the new revenues. Quite the opposite, after two wars, along with unfunded entitlements like No Child Left Behind and Medicare Part D, plus big government regulation bills like the PATRIOT Act and the Clear Skies Act, combined with the bailouts of the auto companies and Wall Street banks saw Bush expand public spending by 70% throughout his administration and add $4.9 trillion to the federal debt.
These unfunded big government initiatives and reckless levels of spending allowed the Democrats to sweep power in Congress and the White House in 2006 and 2008.
But the Democrats followed suite only to double down on out-of-control spending and expansion of government.
In addition to inheriting the two wars and completing the bailouts, Obama and the Democratic Congress passed even more big spending legislation, like the Stimulus and the Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment Act, along with big government regulation bills like the Dodd-Frank Act and the Affordable Care Act, and subsidies for green energy companies like Solyndra and Ener1, and products like the Chevy Volt and Fisker Karma.
And neither administration bothered to tackle the 800-pound economic gorilla in the room: ballooning entitlements that are eating up 65% of all federal tax dollars today and going bankrupt in 20 years.
Obama has now surpassed more debt than Bush ($5.3 trillion) in less than half the time, raising the federal debt to an astronomical $16 trillion. And what do we have to show for it? A record long 8.3% unemployment rate, bankrupt green energy companies, even higher health care costs, rising inflation and a credit rating downgrade.
If you had asked Reagan or Clinton if these were the results that big government legislation and Keynesian economics would produce, they’d tell you, “Well duh!”
But try explaining that to the current leaders of the Democratic Party and half the American electorate.
The progressive elites of academia, maintream media, and Washington, D.C., still fervently cling to the notion that government is the solution to our problems. They blindly support any expansion of bureaucracy and regulation and don’t seem to care too much that Washington has completely broken the principle of living within its means.
They would have you believe that simply raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans will solve all our economic troubles. They claim that the rich “aren’t paying their fair share.” Yet according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the actual amount paid in taxes by the wealthy is higher than it was before the recession while the effective income tax rate of the richest 1% is 29.5% when including all federal taxes, or about twice the 15.1% paid by middle class families.
So what’s “fair?” Fifty percent? Seventy-five percent? Even if we seized 100% of America’s 400 richest billionaires’ combined net worth of $1.5 trillion in assets and income, it wouldn’t even cover 2011’s federal budget deficit of $1.6 trillion.
The liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) claims that allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire on the rich would bring in $829 billion extra revenue during the next decade.
But according to the CBO, the president’ budgets are projected to incur $9.5 trillion worth of deficits over that same time period.
In other words, raising tax rates on the rich will only cover 8.7% of deficit spending over the next 10 years. We can’t even raise taxes high enough or fast enough to keep up with Washington’s out-of-control levels of spending.
At what point do we stop the bleeding of red ink? At what point do we stop expanding government spending? At what point do we finally gather the willpower and courage to tackle the 800-pound economic gorilla in the room?
It was this starvation for accountability and action that gave birth to the Tea Party movement. While the far left wants to believe that it was an “Astroturf movement funded by the billionaire Koch brothers,” the truth is far from it. It was an awakening – a movement literally born out of nothing by concerned citizens who seek to restore fiscal responsibility, limited government powers, and adhere to a Constitution written by founders who distrusted government more than anyone.
And unlike OWS protests, WTO protests, G20 protests or NATO protests, Tea Party protests stood out as the most peaceful. The Tea Party movement has also stood out as the most effective because they are the only ones who figured out how to put down the protest signs and pick up the phones.
They simply want to preserve the system that made America so great and stop the transformation of this country into a European-style welfare state along the lines of Greece, Spain, or Portugal.
This used to be common sense. This used to be something that both parties agreed on. But today, if you ask the far left and progressive elitists, “this is extremist.”
Tell that to Reagan, Clinton, or any one of the founding fathers.