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The Decline And Fall Of The Tea Party

by Stuart Shapiro

I think that history will record last week’s debt accord as the peak of the phenomenon known as the Tea Party.  The data indicates declining support.  The phrase “Tea Party Downgrade” is going to become part of the lexicon.  And the condemnation of the Tea Party by conservatives is getting louder and louder (let’s see them call these guys RINOs).

With the number of people on Medicare and Social Security set to double, [Judd] Gregg said, “your government is inevitably going to grow. And you’re either going to have to finance that, or you’re going to end up running the country into the ditch.”

In recent weeks, prominent Republicans have urged a more flexible approach to taxes. Former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan joined the chorus Friday, dropping his support for the 2001 George W. Bush tax cuts. Greenspan told CNBC he’s so “scared” by the debt that he now favors a return to the higher rates of the Clinton administration.

Martin Feldstein, a Harvard economist who served as chief economic adviser in the Reagan White House, supports the commission’s approach to raising money by ending tax breaks.

It’s a shame, really.  The Tea Party gave us a Democratic Senate in 2010 and scared enough moderates away to greatly assist President Obama’s re-election effort.  They also gave the president an easy narrative for next year’s election (“vote for me to save the country from this group”).  Still, they did enough damage that history won’t forget them.

About Stuart Shapiro

Stuart Shapiro Stuart is a professor and the Director of the Public Policy program at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University. He teaches economics and cost-benefit analysis and studies regulation in the United States at both the federal and state levels. Prior to coming to Rutgers, Stuart worked for five years at the Office of Management and Budget in Washington under Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush.

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