The Tea Party Versus Reality
by Sally Kohn
Sally Kohn is a community organizer and progressive political commentator. She is the Founder and Chief Education Officer of the Movement Vision Lab
In a transition memo shortly after the November 2010 elections, incoming House Majority Leader Eric Cantor virtually bragged that two-thirds of Republican voters think Congress can balance the budget without cutting defense spending, Social Security or Medicare. Never mind that they’re, um, wrong. For the new Tea-Party-ified Republican Party, reality — like a Vice Presidential candidate’s utter lack of policy knowledge — is not a barrier but merely an obstacle to be overcome. Why face facts that, in times of stalled private sector spending, government investment is needed — or, if you’re going to focus on the deficit, hunker down for the hard conversations about cutting benefits for grandma? Reality is unpopular. Pandering wins elections.
And so the incoming Republican leadership in charge of running a portion of our government has pledged to, well, kill government. Not just a little. Pretty much entirely. For instance, Georgia Rep. Tom Graves (pictured), a new member of the appropriations committee, tells The Hill that he can cut enough spending so Congress won’t need to raise the debt ceiling. Well, since the debt ceiling pretty much equals the cost of running government, Graves’ plan to slash the deficit down to zero? Simple. Slash government down to zero.
Graves has pledged to cut $100 billion in spending right off the bat this spring. We can only hope Graves will cut his own job first to prevent him from doing any more damage.
Graves is going to have a tough time, though, if you listen to other Tea Party representatives. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) thinks current levels of defense spending must be preserved. Incoming freshman Alan Nunnlee (R-Miss.) agrees.
So that leaves Graves cutting, well, just about everything else — except, I guess, the people in the federal government whose job it is to write checks to hand over to private military contractors. We’ll still need them. National parks, Department of Education, Department of Veterans Affairs, foreign aid, civil rights law enforcement, food and drug regulation… who needs that waste? But unfortunately, in reality, Mr. Graves will still need to cut more — cuts that, in reality, will hurt a lot of Americans including many who aren’t feeling pain now but will if the rug of government gets pulled out from under them.
Again, may I nominate at least scaling back the number of members of the House of Representatives? We can start with the incoming freshmen.Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2010 Liberaland