In the wreckage of the fiscal cliff debate, the Tea Party has been consistently bashed as unreasonable, crazy, myopically focused on deficit reduction, etc. This week, two publications provided yet more evidence that it is in fact the philosophical opponents of the Tea Party who are ideological and irrational.
First it was a New York Times’ editorial responding to the final fiscal cliff deal, basically standing against any and all budget cuts in the upcoming budget debates:
Republicans say they are more determined than ever to extract the maximum amount of budget-cutting pain in the next two months by threatening not to raise the debt ceiling.
That’s a far more serious prospect than going over the fiscal cliff. Letting the Treasury run out of borrowing authority would mean a default on the nation’s credit, a catastrophic prospect for holders of government bonds around the world. It could result in further credit downgrades and lead to sharply higher borrowing costs. It is an unimaginable prospect for a responsible country, yet it almost happened in 2011 because of the irresponsibility of Congressional Republicans.
Oddly, the Times does not talk about how much pain will be caused if budget cuts do not happen, through the joys associated with high unemployment, slow economic growth, high taxes, higher inflation, and other results of massive debt. Clearly, the Times’ ideology of higher taxes and larger government is so disconnected with spending realities that it is completely shutting its eyes to the facts.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) appears to have also shut his eyes. From The Washington Post:
Reid and Obama had disagreed privately about what their next offer should be. At one point, Reid was unhappy with an idea that Senate aides said came from Obama — to put the change in Social Security benefits back on the table in exchange for a delay in spending cuts and a rise in the debt limit.
Aides said Reid actually tore up the proposal and threw it into the blazing fire in his ornate green marble fireplace. The paper burned. Reid said he didn’t want evidence that the idea had ever been considered. Administration officials, for their part, deny that Obama ever considered including the Social Security change in the deal.
This is a common refrain from Senator Reid. In 2011, he said “”Social Security is a program that works and is fully funded for the next 40 years.” He also claimed “the arithmetic on Social Security works.” In the nearly two years since, of course, the math has proven him wrong as the program’s financial troubles have become increasingly obvious. The Social Security Trust Fund, for example, begins to run out starting this year.
While it is popular for politicians to procrastinate changes to Social Security and Medicare, the simple mathematical realities are that both programs, plus interest payments and defense spending, take up two-thirds of the federal budget. Over the next two decades, spending on interest payments, Social Security, and Medicare will skyrocket. Reforms must be brought into play in order to prevent an entire fiscal collapse, and time is not on our side.
In his Thursday column, Washington Post columnist George Will articulated just how wretched the logic of Big Government proponents is, especially when compared to reality:
This state cannot be funded by taxing “the rich.” Or even by higher income taxes on the middle class. Income taxes cannot fund the government liberals want, and they dare not seek the consumption and energy taxes their entitlement architecture requires. Hence, although Republicans are complicit, Democrats are ardent in embracing decadent democracy. This consists not just of infantilism — refusing to will the means for the ends one has willed — but also of willing an immoral means: conscripting the wealth of future generations.
Given all of this intellectual dishonesty by powerful people and organizations who want to spend your money, it would be easy to be despondent. However, Will points out that there is still hope:
The media, which often are the last to know things because their wishes father their thoughts, say the tea party impulse is exhausted. Scores of House Republicans and seven first-term Republican senators (Rand Paul, Mike Lee, Pat Toomey, Ted Cruz, Ron Johnson, Marco Rubio and Tim Scott) will soon — hello, debt ceiling — prove otherwise.
And there it is – America’s real last hope for avoidance of a fiscal collapse. Tea Party-minded Members of Congress have been manipulated and fooled several times in the last two years, convinced to vote for various deals that have done next to nothing for America’s fiscal irresponsibility. Will they do so ever again? It is doubtful, and thus America’s potential for economic and fiscal rebound has just gotten a lot larger.