published Saturday, July 30th, 2011

Tea-party destruction

The concessions Republican House Speaker John Boehner has had to make to get his party's far-right tea party wing to pass a meaningless bill to raise the nation's debt ceiling is emblematic of the craziness surrounding what has become a huge and damaging crisis of confidence in the U.S. dollar, in America's political stability, and this nation's good faith and credit. But that is just the tip of the iceberg headed toward the Tuesday deadline.

What is really at stake is the very foundation of the fairness, ideals and values long held in America with respect to our vast majority of working families, who depend heavily on their hard-earned entitlement programs and the flat-lined, modest (15 percent) of federal spending that supports discretionary support for everything from farm crops to Pell grants.

At the most fundamental level, what tea party members are demanding -- and holding our nation's economy and good faith and credit hostage for -- comes down to things like this:

• Cutting Pell grants for low-income students to attend college, in return for keeping the Bush tax cuts intact for multimillionaires and billionaires.

• Making measly voucher programs out of bedrock, pre-paid Social Security and Medicare, in return for keeping tax breaks for oil companies, and personal taxes for zillionaire hedge fund managers at a lower percentage rate than what their secretaries pay.

• Whacking Medicaid, which funds most nursing home care and barely provides minimal health care for the very poor (and none for the working families without insurance if their incomes are a little above the federal poverty guideline), in return for keeping corporate tax breaks for big multinational companies that earn billions in profits, that park their jobs and profits off-shore, and that often pay zero federal taxes.

In short, the tea party types are demanding cuts that would throw the vast majority of American families to the wolves by slashing any meaningful help at leveling the playing field for working families, just so they could say they refused to allow any revenue increases to help work down the federal debt they so abhor.

We still have to wonder if these tea party types, and their uninformed middle-class supporters, know precisely how the country arrived at the current $14.3 trillion federal debt. If they don't, here's a short primer: Ronald Reagan raised the existing 1981 debt of $1 trillion to $2.9 trillion before he left office. George H.W. Bush raised it $1.5 trillion more. Bill Clinton added another $1.4 trillion in debt, even though he ended his second term with three years of budget surpluses.

George W. Bush, the debt king, raised the $5.8 trillion debt that he inherited in 2001 by $6.1 trillion -- to a total of $11.9 trillion -- mainly by borrowing to pay for his huge tax cuts that disproportionately benefited the wealthiest Americans, for his wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and for the unfunded Medicare prescription bill.

The debt and borrowing he put in motion for his tax cuts and wars, plus his $800 billion TARP bill, added another $1.2 trillion in debt to the budget he left Barack Obama for his first year in office in 2009 -- boosting total debt from the Reagan-through-Bush II era to $13.1 trillion. The Bush II tax cuts, wars and Medicare drug bills, of course, continue now to add debt to the federal budget every day.

Thus, of the $2.4 trillion in new debt for Obama's 2009/10/11 budgets, the lion's share is inherited from the fiscal actions of Bush II. Obama's stimulus spending of $800 billion -- most of which went for new temporary middle-class tax cuts and a three-year aid program to help stabilize state budgets -- actually constitutes relatively little of the current $14.3 trillion federal debt.

The history of the debt doesn't matter to lenders who hold Treasury bonds. What they know is that the United States government adopted fiscal policies and Congress approved appropriations over the past three decades that it financed by selling U.S. Treasury notes. Debt holders also know that Washington -- unless tea party types wake up -- may now default on its debt for the first time ever.

That disastrous, historic action would immediately lower America's credit rating, erode confidence in America's word, and raise interest rates by at least 1 percent, immediately adding $1.3 trillion to the federal debt -- just for starters.

It would also sabotage the economy, throwing the nation back into a deeper recession, further increasing automatic federal spending for unemployment and health care, and generally wreaking havoc for America's businesses and jobs.

Tea party types would work the nation into this deeper hole, with all its fresh pain for so many millions of families, all because their witless, reckless tribe doesn't have the sense of responsibility to make good on the nation's financial promises pledged over the least 30 years, mainly under Republican presidents. This would be tragic, mindless and, of course, needless self destruction, all in the name of political theater under the ironic banner of fiscal purity.

Nothing could be more cruel to ordinary American families.

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Facts said...

I'll tell you what's "crazy". The fact that the only demand of the Tea Party "Hobbits", "Terrorists", or whatever name you want to use to cover true failings, was to balance the budget. As one who agrees with living within our means, you've put me in the "crazy", "terrorist", "Hobbit" column. It also seems that Senator Corker's there with me. He supported Cut, Cap & Balance and had an opinion yesterday that the current plans didn't cut enough. I like the company I'm in.

July 30, 2011 at 7:45 a.m.
328Kwebsite said...

Nothing quite like coming home from these wars, watching the economy collapse after ten or 20 years of Republicans lying about equity, and then see Republicans refuse to do anything but preserve The Bush Tax Cuts for the Wealthy.

We love those Bush Tax Cuts for the Wealthy! They have created a fountain of jobs, beginning with Bear Sterns! The hitparade of great Republican financial ideas just never ends. It's almost like it's the roaring 1928's all over again. Same financial solutions, same results, same Republican snobbery: 1928. Maybe soon we'll call it as 1929, if they screw up this one line of law that raises the debt ceiling. Republicans: incapable of writing one sentence of law that's worth saving our country. After the Bush administration, we are not sure why anyone votes Republican for anything anymore. Total failures in public policy born of stupidity seem to be the Republican Party's greatest contribution to mankind. They are pushing back the frontier on just how damaging stupid people can be and still get elected to office.

We support PayGo, not go back to the 1940s budgets.

Of course the Pell Grants need to stay. So does the entire LBJ Great Society. It looks like Republicans are trying to destroy LBJ's Great Society.

Still old and alive and racist and rich and trying to bring back Jim Crow before you die, huh?

It's almost as though Republicans are trying to make themselves appear to be the party of 1950s racists who forgot what poverty looks like. We can guess how they came to that marketing focus.

We see Republicans trying to create a fake version of the 1950s with their contemporary initiatives. If only their view of history wasn't such a lie, then maybe they would see the horror in the lack of refrigeration that accompanies their Spoiled Meat in Every Pot approach to health and human services. Commerce is about sustaining civilization, not making the rich richer.

Of course Senator Corker agrees with lunatic commenters like those above. He used his office as Mayor to change his commercial property values to make a Check-Into-Cash downpayment on his Senate run. We don't have Senator Corker confused with a leader, an ethical businessman or someone fit to do anything other than jail time. That's why we elected him Senator. So we could manipulate his low-down self into doing what we need done. Everyone else with his ethics was addicted to crack cocaine.

Support President Obama. Reject these Tea Party lunatics who are destroying our country with their low IQ points. President Obama has been right, reasonable and intelligent in these debates.

We would support President Obama wholeheartedly if he were to immediately enact the 14th Amendment and SCOTUS on Perry V. US in 1935 to raise the debt ceiling today, without any Congressional say-so besides their previously incurred debts.

July 30, 2011 at 8:55 a.m.
timbo said...

How in the heck is this problem the Tea Parties fault. There wasn't a Tea Party in 2001 when the elitist, progressive Bush started raising the debt. There was no Tea Party when elitist, progressive Barack Obama was elected and started spending at even a greater rate. This problem was caused by progressives giving freebies in both parties.

If you don't believe that, look at the numbers. 90 freshman congressmen were elected last year. Not all are even in the Tea Party caucus. How in the world could they be pulling the strings here with those numbers?

Harry Austin is an imbecile. He has no idea how the real world works. His opinion is useless and predictable. Someone as dumb and mean as Harry Austin calling anyone "witless" is just ridiculous. Austin is so stupid he can't even use simple math to see this country is in trouble.

The bottom line is this. The Republicans want to spend and borrow, the Democrats want to tax and spend. The Tea party wants to stop spending. Who is the adult in the room?

The traditional, Harvard/Yale types, the elitists in both parties who caused this problem to start with are like a alcoholic or drug addicts. They will say anything or blame anyone for these problems but themselves. They need to look in the mirror and see just how immature and childish they really are because someone has finally said enough is enough.

July 30, 2011 at 10:29 a.m.
328Kwebsite said...

We notice that the writer above called editors at The Times an imbecile only after calling President George W. Bush "progressive."

We can see that he can only prove his point by writing insults at individual people who are not elected to office. Harry Austin is not the creator or perpetuator of our financial problems. Insulting him is pointless. It may not even be directed at the correct person who wrote the editorial above.

It'd be the kind of conclusion arrived at by someone with an IQ between 25 and 50.

Meanwhile, the adult in the room is President Obama.

Previous PAYGO policies were the correct answer. We applaud the Tea Party's approval of President Clinton's economic plans. We had no idea there were so many supporters of Vice President Al Gore in Tennessee.

July 30, 2011 at 10:31 a.m.
timbo said...

328 Website ....Good point, George W. Bush is an idiot along with your hero Obama. All of you seem to be math challenged. Obama is a no experience, Chicago political hack, whose only talent is reading from a teleprompter. His election was an insult to all business men who keep this country going by creating jobs and wealth. His childishness knows no bounds.

By the way, Austin is a local imbecile and those two are national imbeciles. Before you get on me for "calling names" read the article and see how insulting Austin was in the first place. Austin is consistently wrong about everything.

By the way 328, acting smart is not being smart. I will compare brain pans with you any day. What have you invented, how many jobs have you created or do you just suck off society at some brainless government job?

July 30, 2011 at 10:35 a.m.
328Kwebsite said...


"suck off society at a brainless government job"

by fighting and working through four war campaigns while your manly self stayed back here and invented Manscaping and Metrosexuals.

Thank you for your societal contributions.

I did read the article, and I felt that the opinion expressed was too mild and a week too old.

It's "President" Obama. After all of those years of Republicans calling for "respect" for the office, we notice that they can't use the title of President when referring to President Obama. Since the Tea Party in Tennessee has been financed and supported by the Republican Party, I would expect that Tea Party advocates to recognize that we all know that they are Republicans. After all, it's who's paying the bills for the Tea Party.

We recognize that the Tea Party is doing quite a bit of spending on its own. Using the same Republican finance machine as other corrupt self-paying local Republican politicians. Just ask Robin Smith. While President of our state's Republican Party, she made sure to be the keynote speaker at one of Chattanooga's first Tea Party Rallies. One of their first declarations was that they were proud to have paid for and organized local Tea Party elements.

Want to talk about insulting, how does it feel to know that everyone who sees the words "Tea Party" really knows that it means "rude Republican"?

I'll leave you alone, after I have now seen that Tea Party Republicans are so radical as to think President George W. Bush is "progressive."

I guess it's a good thing we have Reagan-like conservatives in the White House with President Obama and Vice President Biden. Where would we be if we had socialist criminals like President Richard Nixon around? Who knows, maybe we'd have a communist like President Dwight D. Eisenhower running things.

Perhaps we could get a "good" Tea Party candidate, like Bloody Mary or Vlad the Impaler.

July 30, 2011 at 10:47 a.m.
timbo said...

328..How about Bloody Mary or Vlad the Impaler versus Stalin or Mao. Oh that's right they are too far right of Obama. Actually, NAZI Germany's economic model is where Obama and you guys are. National Socialism. The government controls the means of production and manipulates it from on high. The elites in both parties switch positions and who is in charge and we end up in the same place. Hummm... I guess that is just a coincidence.

Bush spending trillions on different agendas makes him no different than the almighty Obama. The spending is just on different priorities..but still spending.

By the way, I am past the warring age, but just because you were in a couple of wars doesn't mean you get "special" citizen status. My thanks were when you volunteered I, the evil business man tax payer, made sure you were paid and equipped properly. Other than that you can kiss my you know what.

By the way, the comment about the first rally and Robin Smith is a complete lie. The rally was paid for by Mark West and a couple of other Tea types. That is a fact.

By the way, why are we in trouble if the "moderate" Republicans and Democrats didn't do it? How can the Tea Party be responsible for 14 Trillion in debt when they existed only 2 years? At least show a little bit of logic.

July 30, 2011 at 11:25 a.m.
CarolinaGal said...

The hobbits were the good guys...the only one with the strength of character to get it done.

We are broke. Fix this in a controlled fashion now or watch it collapse. There aren't enough "rich" or military $ to save you. The entitlement class will be hurt the worst.

July 30, 2011 at 5:35 p.m.
hambone said...

There wasn't a Tea Party till the Koch Brother hired 80 " community orginizers" to go around the country to orginize simple minded people to promote their GREED !

July 31, 2011 at 1:19 a.m.
Selah said...

hambone...sounds like the truth to me

5 Presidents raised the debt ceiling without this much mess. What is the so called problem now. Are you all scared that Pres. Obama will succeed? Give Pres. Obama his plan and move on. If it fails then it will be on him but with all this Republican pic and poking at our expense is becoming the Republicans and Tea Party continuing demise. They organized and blindsided us the past few years but we will organize and remove them for the future.

July 31, 2011 at 1:26 a.m.
acerigger said...

If the Republicans force the country into default, the dollar will suffer. At the least, import prices will rise and the trade deficit with them. At the worse, the dollar will lose its reserve currency role, and the US will no longer be able to pay its oil bill in its own currency. With its balance of payments deep in the red, it has no foreign currency with which to purchase oil.

If Obama has to seize the power of the purse in order to prevent a new financial crisis from landing on top of the ongoing financial crisis, democracy will take another big hit.

Americans need desperately to ask themselves why they put into political office such utterly irresponsible and incompetent people capable of creating such a totally unnecessary crisis loaded with such disastrous potential outcomes. It would appear that the American population is too ignorant to use the vote with any care.(P.C.Roberts)

July 31, 2011 at 7:42 a.m.
acerigger said...

Instead of supporting and defending the Constitution of the United States, which would include not putting into question the validity of the public debt of the United States, the Republican members of the House of Representatives are insisting on changing the Constitution instead of defending the one they were sworn (or affirmed) to uphold.

Further, if the current members of Congress who voted for a Balanced Budget Amendment came to office believing that this was their purpose (changing the Constitution), then they again violated their oath because they took the oath with mental reservation and/or the purpose of evasion – they want a Balanced Budget Amendment before upholding the Fourteenth Amendment. Insurrection: An act or instance of revolting against civil authority or an established government. Sedition: Incitement of resistance to or insurrection against lawful authority.

Placing the validity of the public debt (the law under the 14th Amendment) is being held hostage in exchange for a change to the U.S. Constitution - these are acts of insurrection and sedition.

July 31, 2011 at 8:23 a.m.
macropetala8 said...

Wasn't it Reagan who raided 5.7 trillion from social security to support his cold war adventure?

July 31, 2011 at 6:55 p.m.
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