By my calculations, the new Republican house is already proposing $220 Billion in additional spending and reduced revenue (aka $220 Billion increase to the budget deficit) on two items between now and election day in 2012 making it very difficult to get to their promise of cutting spending and cutting the deficit at the same time they intend to cut taxes and stimulate the economy. We will get into the specifics of that later in this article.
I want to get in what will be one of if not in fact the last of my commentarys on the Tea Party because if my analysis is right, they will not be around much longer. You see, the Tea Party has worn out their welcome in the Republican Party. The only slight measure of success of the Tea Party was to temporarily rebrand the Republican Party to the point where they could oppose some of Obama's initiatives. Had they stopped there and let the Republicans run their own candidates, election 2010 would have been an even bigger success for the GOP.
Instead, almost all of the big name Tea Party Senate candidates who were in competitive races lost their elections this past Tuesday including Sharron Angle in Nevada, Christine O'Donnell in Delaware, Ken Buck in Colorado, Joe Miller in Alaska. These candidates cost the GOP the senate. Had the GOP been able to run candidates that did not strike the electorate in these states as crazy radical wingnuts, the Republicans would have won those races and Mr. McConnell would be Senate Majority leader.
While some would argue that the Tea Party helped win the House of Representatives, that logic also doesnt work because Democratic Presidents and indeed most Presidents of either party typically have large losses in the mid term elections following their election to their first term. As this graphic by Steve Benen of the Washington Monthly illustrates, the chances are that the Republicans would have taken the House and by large numbers even without the Tea Party. Its something that just usually happens.
Typical Midterm election effect on House of Representatives by Steve Benen
That isn't the only failure of the Tea Party. The Tea Party also failed in one of the key reasons it was created and that is to oppose President Obama's initiatives like the stimulus and Health Care Reform. As we all know, both of those measures passed.
This failure is not lost on the powers that be in the Republican Party and the fact is that the folks at the two big Republican thinktanks, Freedomworks and Americans for Prosperity, control all of the Tea Party's infrastructure and funding. All that has to happen is for the leadership of those two thinktanks to turn the funding key to 'off', shut down the websites that help organize the tea parties, and the Tea Party Express would come to a quick and wordless stop. That is what I predict will happen in the next few weeks. They are going to try to do it as quietly and innocuously as possible, but they are going to do it. The Republican Party has nothing left to gain from the Tea Party and everything to lose. The grass roots members of the Tea Party actually expect the Republicans to cut spending and close the budget deficit and the GOP has no intention of doing that.
As I mentioned in my opening paragraph, Republicans have announced they intend to push $220 Billion in additional spending and reduced revenue for the next two years over what is the current situation and plan. First, they intend to stop President Obama from bringing an end to the Afghanistan war in 2011. That war costs $80 Billion per year. I've been generous in my calculations and only charged the GOP congress who are pushing for the extension with the cost of the war in 2012 but truthfully, Obama plans to end the war in the summer of 2011 so we could add another $40 Billion to the increased expenditure for which the Republicans are advocating.
Second, the Republicans are pushing to make the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans permanent. Those tax cuts cost $70 Billion per year. So, before anything else has happened, Republicans are advocating for an increase in the deficit for the time between now and election day in 2012 by $220 Billion dollars. Republicans would have to find that amount of cuts to take effect in the next two years just to offset what they are already proposing.
As I have said repeatedly in debates with my right wing friends over the last two years, Republicans have no credibility on Fiscal Responsibility. They have no credibility in the past and they clearly intend to go on having no credibility in the future. See these videos of me discussing the Tea Party in April of 2009 and November 1, 2010 where I make this and other points.
That isn't all, the Republicans have had two years on the sidelines to plan for what they would do if they got the likely chance to return to power in one or both houses of congress and with all of that time, they have no detailed proposals for what to do about the economy. They cannot articulate a single item in the budget to cut, not a single one. They squirm, spin and run from the question everytime they are asked. See these videos for prominent GOP members of congress asked about what they intend to cut:
Now, we have already heard that cuts of defense are off the table as far as Republicans are concerned. Before the election, the common theme you heard was that everything was on the table including defense because our budget was so out of control. After the election, we are hearing that defense cuts are verboten, so, what large items does that leave in the budget to cut? It leaves things like Medicare and Social Security. If Republicans are going to try to cut something, and I am not convinced that they are, they are going to try to cut Medicare and Social Security.
As much as I would like to see the Republicans commit political suicide by proposing broad cuts in Social Security and Medicare that would then be shot down in the Senate and White House, I don't really believe they are going to do that. Instead, Republicans are going to prove that they are the same old Republicans that existed before the modern incarnation of the Tea Party started making noise. They are going to propose tax cuts and then they will fail to followthrough with any kind of spending cuts to pay for those tax cuts further ballooning the deficit.
No one should be surprised, this is who the Republicans are, this is the Republicans' nature. We've all heard the parable of the scorpion and the frog. The scorpion asks the frog to swim across the river and carry the scorpion on its back. The frog replies that he is afraid the scorpion will sting him to which the scorpion promises he will not and asserts that it would be dumb to do since it would drown them both. Sure enough, the frog relents and half way across the river the scorpion stings the frog and on their way to sinking beneath the waves, the frog asks the scorpion why he did it and the scorpion says "It's my nature".
I have no idea why the voters of this country have to be periodically reminded of the Republicans' nature. We're going to get a lot of reminders of their nature in the next two years. The Republicans are reportedly going to be spending millions and perhaps billions of dollars investigating the Obama administration in the hopes of finding something with which to impeach him as I described here in this article http://www.opednews.com/articles/Election-2010-Potential-Co-by-Steven-Leser-100830-747.html Before the election Darryl Issa had already taken to calling himself the "questioner in chief."
Combine that with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's repeated assertion that his top priority is to make Obama a one term President and I wonder if Republicans remember that we still have a very serious situation with the economy and unemployment. You GOPers remember those things, right? Particularly since those are the reasons people did not reelect the Democrats, they were concerned about those things.
The fact is that the Republicans have no intention of following through on spending cuts and they have no intention of concentrating on the economy and jobs. The Republicans have three priorities, keeping the Afghan war going, hurting Obama with the intent of making him a one term President, and rewarding their wealthiest donors with tax cuts for the rich. We Democrats cannot let them behave this way without paying a massive price in the next elections. We've got to keep reminding people what they promised. We've got to keep reminding Republicans that they are now a part of the government and are responsible for helping come up with solutions. They are no longer outside agitators. They are there because they said Democrats weren't doing a good enough job. We've got to keep demanding that they outline their plans with complete details. It's time for Republicans and their Tea Party cronies (for as long as the Tea Party remains around) to put up or shut up.