Over at Slate.com and Huffington Post, two op-eds blame many of the nation’s ills on the Tea Party and, in the case of the former, specifically Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX). Rather than allocate guilt where it belongs, both authors are blaming the Tea Party and allies in Congress for problems created by the Beltway Behemoth.
First, from Slate’s Brian Beutler:
You could call it the Cruz effect. Greater polarization, which in turn feeds toxic behavioral changes — the ongoing breakdown in norms that for the better part of a century helped stabilize legislative governance in the country.
“Playing around with the debt limit, [a broken] confirmation process, no fraternizing with the enemy,” Karol says, “these things would’ve been beyond the pale in the past.”
Absent some kind of structural change on the right, it looks like they’ll become the new normal. And as long as the GOP controls the House, the speaker will be struggling to tame a conference that in many ways resembles an unhappy coalition of two minority parties.
Beutler’s whole piece is full of inaccuracies and misplaced blame. Here are a few of them:
First, most of America’s major problems began a century ago. Ever since, bipartisanship has made the income tax more devastating to public policy, and the Federal Reserve more powerful. Spending, wars, and an immoral tax code can be laid at the feet of both parties for their roles in keepingthese century-old systems in place.
Second, many politicians have long opposed raising the debt ceiling, including the current President when he was a Senator. The difference between Tea Party-minded fiscal conservatives and most politicians is they oppose raising the debt ceiling on principle, not for political gain. “Fraternizing with the enemy” has raised taxes and spending for decades. However, the opposing groups aren’t Democrats and Republicans; they freedom-minded individuals against the statists in both parties.
Further down in his piece, Beutler quoted David Karol, a professor “who studies factional politics in the United States.” Karol claimed the following:
There was a time when we weren’t going to shut down the government, impeach the president, that if you do anything with the president you weren’t radioactive. Now, doing anything collaborative, anything across the aisle, means you’re suspect, courting a primary challenge. That atmosphere did not exist to the same degree.
If this professor studied the era of George W. Bush, he’s forgotten the facts. Impeachment was regularly part of the political discussion. He also missed how former Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut was driven out of his party for backing the war in Iraq and publicly supporting George Bush when it came to Iraq.
Regarding shutting down the government, Beutler’s alleged expert on “factional politics” thinks not going with the status quo is a horrible thing for America. It’s not the Tea Party that is shutting down the government – it is the establishment that wants to keep spending us into oblivion, and any opposition to that goal is threatened with a government shutdown.
Moving on to Huffington Post, Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop claims the following:
Of course, just as the Tea Party members of Congress treat immigration as a curse instead of a benefit so do they oppose the bipartisan tax policies instituted by Presidents Reagan and Clinton that have encouraged the rebirth of many American cities. It’s no coincidence that at best a handful of Tea Party congressmen live in cities or even the nearby suburbs. This means they have no appreciation of what American cities mean to our national fabric — and the economy.
That’s a shame because instead of looking to enhance the low-income housing tax credit signed into law by President Reagan in 1986, they want to demolish it. At the same time, they want to gut the new-markets tax credit which was initiated in 2000 under President Clinton and passed by a Republican congress. Like the housing credit, this one incentivizes private investors to support worthy projects that otherwise might have been seen as too difficult to underwrite.
First, the Tea Party has never treated legal immigration as a negative thing for America. The Senate’s amnesty bill has far more to do with bloated, vague, train wreck bills than immigration. Tea Party Patriots’ opposition is more concerned with the process and structure of the bill than the content.
Second, Fulop wants Tea Party activists to support special interest tax policies. Rather than a fair and just tax code, he wants a code with loopholes designed to help certain Americans over others:
Our cities are a big part of the nation’s economic recovery, and our next generation of leaders will likely come from the government laboratories that are city governments. The destruction of policies that have been so important to urban life won’t just hurt the cities, it will hurt the economy as a whole. The Tea Party leaders must be held accountable for their wrong-headed approach.
The special interest-oriented policies Fulop cheers for are the same type of market-distorting government interventions that led to the 2008 economic crash and have contributed to the anemic growth afterwards. It would be fairer, more ethical, and far more economically sound to enact legitimate tax reform that grows the economy and helps all Americans, not just those with friends in high places.
Beutler and Fulop are not the first, nor the last, people to completely misdiagnose America’s problems. What else can you expect from people who think the status quo is acceptable?