Tea Party Divisiveness Threatens U.S. Solvency
Here’s an article that I wish I had written, & here’s hoping that the author, Robbie Ottley, will pursue a future in Journalism.
“I’m really going to miss the 112th Congress,” said no one ever.
The members of Congress sworn in after a 2010 Republican landslide proved to be the least productive since 1947, passing fewer laws than any Congress since records were first kept that year. And they went out with a bang of a whimper last week, passing legislation to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, when most Americans were drinking, watching college football or both.
As Jonathan Weisman said in the New York Times, the legislation eventually passed “would have been a Republican fiscal fantasy” back in the days of President George W. Bush [“Lines of Resistance on Fiscal Deal,” Jan. 1]. The legislation permanently extends the Bush tax cuts for 98 percent of Americans, only returning taxes to the Clinton-era rates of 39.5 percent on individuals making over $400,000 a year and couples making over $450,000 a year. If you had returned to 2003 in a time machine and told House Democrats who still retain those positions that a decade later their votes would be necessary to save these tax cuts, they would have laughed in your face or punched you, or both.
But House Democratic votes were necessary to save the Bush tax cuts for all but the wealthiest two percent because House Republicans are so fervent about cutting the size of government that the old Republican goal of cutting taxes to encourage growth is no longer good enough to justify any budget deal that doesn’t take a scythe to government spending.
Since the fiscal cliff deal cut a negligible amount of spending while avoiding the immediate catastrophe of higher taxes on the vast majority of Americans, it didn’t garner a majority of Republican votes, even though the deal promises to continue negotiations on significant spending cuts until another deadline two months from now.
Riding the wave of a Tea Party-driven electoral tsunami into office in 2010, House Republicans still feel they have a mandate to cut government down to the bones. As such, the fiscal cliff deal is derided as a “surrender” by conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer, and Democrats were “slaughtering” Republicans according to conservative web presence Matt Drudge, who also facetiously framed the bill as $41 in tax increases for every $1 in spending cuts.