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The Sequester and the Tea Party Plot

US Politics & Gov't  (tags: Sequester, Tea Party, Republicans, Grover Norquist, Obama, spending cuts )

- 1909 days ago -
"This will be the first significant tea party victory in that we got what we set out to do in changing Washington," says Rep. Tim Huelskamp, Kan. What they set out to do was..eviscerate U.S. government -"drown it in the bathtub,"-words of Grover Norquist

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Angelika R (143)
Friday March 1, 2013, 11:13 am
magine a plot to undermine the government of the United States, to destroy much of its capacity to do the public's business, and to sow distrust among the population.

Imagine further that the plotters infiltrate Congress and state governments, reshape their districts to give them disproportionate influence in Washington, and use the media to spread big lies about the government.

Finally, imagine they not only paralyze the government but are on the verge of dismantling pieces of it.

Far-fetched? Perhaps. But take a look at what's been happening in Washington and many state capitals since Tea Party fanatics gained effective control of the Republican Party, and you'd be forgiven if you see parallels.

Tea Party Republicans are crowing about the "sequestration" cuts beginning today (Friday). "This will be the first significant tea party victory in that we got what we set out to do in changing Washington," says Rep. Tim Huelskamp (Kan.), a Tea Partier who was first elected in 2010.

Sequestration is only the start. What they set out to do was not simply change Washington but eviscerate the U.S. government - "drown it in the bathtub," in the words of their guru Grover Norquist - slashing Social Security and Medicare, ending worker protections we've had since the 1930s, eroding civil rights and voting rights, terminating programs that have helped the poor for generations, and making it impossible for the government to invest in our future.

Sequestration grew out of a strategy hatched soon after they took over the House in 2011, to achieve their goals by holding hostage the full faith and credit of the United States - notwithstanding the Constitution's instruction that the public debt of the United States "not be questioned."

To avoid default on the public debt, the White House and House Republicans agreed to harsh and arbitrary "sequestered" spending cuts if they couldn't come up with a more reasonable deal in the interim. But the Tea Partiers had no intention of agreeing to anything more reasonable. They knew the only way to dismember the federal government was through large spending cuts without tax increases.

Nor do they seem to mind the higher unemployment their strategy will almost certainly bring about. Sequestration combined with January's fiscal cliff deal is expected to slow economic growth by 1.5 percentage points this year - dangerous for an economy now crawling at about 2 percent. It will be even worse if the Tea Partiers refuse to extend the government's spending authority, which expires March 27.

A conspiracy theorist might think they welcome more joblessness because they want Americans to be even more fearful and angry. Tea Partiers use fear and anger in their war against the government - blaming the anemic recovery on government deficits and the government's size, and selling a poisonous snake-oil of austerity economics and trickle-down economics as the remedy.

They likewise use the disruption and paralysis they've sown in Washington to persuade Americans government is necessarily dysfunctional, and politics inherently bad. Their continuing showdowns and standoffs are, in this sense, part of the plot.

What is the President's response? He still wants a so-called "grand bargain" of "balanced" spending cuts (including cuts in the projected growth of Social Security and Medicare) combined with tax increases on the wealthy. So far, though, he has agreed to a gross imbalance - $1.5 trillion in cuts to Republicans' $600 billion in tax increases on the rich.

The President apparently believes Republicans are serious about deficit reduction, when in fact the Tea Partiers now running the GOP are serious only about dismembering the government.

And he seems to accept that the budget deficit is the largest economic problem facing the nation, when in reality the largest problem is continuing high unemployment (some 20 million Americans unemployed or under-employed), declining real wages, and widening inequality. Deficit reduction now or in the near-term will only make these worse.

Besides, the deficit is now down to about 5 percent of GDP - where it was when Bill Clinton took office. It is projected to mushroom in later years mainly because healthcare costs are expected to rise faster than the economy is expected to grow, and the American population is aging. These trends have little or nothing to do with government programs. In fact, Medicare is far more efficient than private health insurance.

I suggest the President forget about a "grand bargain." In fact, he should stop talking about the budget deficit and start talking about jobs and wages, and widening inequality - as he did in the campaign. And he should give up all hope of making a deal with the Tea Partiers who now run the Republican Party.

Instead, the President should let the public see the Tea Partiers for who they are - a small, radical minority intent on dismantling the government of the United States. As long as they are allowed to dictate the terms of public debate they will continue to hold the rest of us hostage to their extremism.

Angelika R (143)
Friday March 1, 2013, 11:49 am
I hope that many of you heard the president's press conference today. His message was clear to me: he asked the American PEOPLE to raise hell in Congress! I did NOT like his repeated offer in "entitlement cuts", i.e. Medicare for the good of the long run, as he said and I agree with Robert Reich he should NOT get back to any "grand (or even small) bargain". We do know about the devil taking the whole hand after you offer your little finger!

David C (131)
Friday March 1, 2013, 11:55 am
Tea Party = anarchist, anti-US.....while we remember the original Tea Party as patriotic and anti-British this new tea party is anti-government, anti-community, anti-anything about doing this together for the good of anyone other themselves....

Past Member (0)
Friday March 1, 2013, 11:55 am
Well said, Angelika.

Angelika R (143)
Friday March 1, 2013, 12:14 pm
Dave C - there's an accurate word for it- what do you call people who hold other people hostage?
That's right: Terrorists, criminals! If you EVER needed the NRA the time is now- first target: G Norquist!

Mike S (86)
Friday March 1, 2013, 12:15 pm
Thanks for the great article Angie. As a Canadian, I generally stay out of American political debate...but if I were American, I would be outraged at these, imo, worthless wastes of skin and time. Can they not be recalled? Impeached for dereliction of duty? Given tickets to the next flight off planet? Compromising with this bunch would be like getting a rattlesnake to agree to only pump half of its venom into you.

David C (29)
Friday March 1, 2013, 2:22 pm
words that Tea Party of today have forgot --- Pledge of Allegiance --- The Constitution' of the USA -- For the People by the People.

Jae A (316)
Friday March 1, 2013, 3:54 pm
It does appear that the Teabager Klan have no knowledge of anything to do with the constitution other than the 2nd know, the one that gives us all the right to own a musket. Other than that they are total at a loss when it comes to the they are not color blind, so ta say. In fact it's the only reason many of them are even active in politics is due to their racism and over all hate of minorities in general f...or the majority of them in my opinion. Who needs foreign terrorit to take the nation down when you have extremist group like them doing it from within !

Angelika R (143)
Friday March 1, 2013, 4:05 pm
Worth repeating : "Who needs foreign terrorit to take the nation down when you have extremist group like them doing it from within ! " Exactly! Thx Jae!

Angelika R (143)
Friday March 1, 2013, 7:50 pm
As Obama signs the order, sequester is enacted.

It’s official.

Late Friday evening, President Barack Obama signed an order – as required by the “sequester” legislation – to enact broad cuts to federal spending, according to a White House release.

Those cuts will now officially go into effect at midnight Friday.

The low-key statement, unaccompanied even by a White House-authorized photo of the signing, comes after weeks of finger-pointing with little urgency from Democrats or Republicans to avert the cuts.

In the week leading up to Friday’s deadline, Obama administration had warned of the consequences of the sequester, with Cabinet officials taking to the airwaves and the president hitting the road to highlight the measure’s effect on jobs, education, and even delays for air travelers.

On Friday, Obama acknowledged that while the cuts will be “painful,” they won’t be completely catastrophic.

"We will get through this," he said. "This is not going to be an apocalypse, I think, as some people have said. It’s just dumb. And it's going to hurt."

Süheyla C (234)
Saturday March 2, 2013, 4:20 pm
I agree Angelika
Thanks noted

Gloria picchetti (304)
Saturday March 2, 2013, 4:56 pm
I can't believe they are proud of creating more unemployment!

Patricia Gal (103)
Saturday March 2, 2013, 6:02 pm
Well said Angelika......tea party republicans are the Anti Christ, Anti Americans destroying America.

Don Schwarz (5)
Saturday March 2, 2013, 6:52 pm
I stand with Angelika for all three of her posts. I could only repeat her words, not say them better. Noted.

Deanna Zimmerman (74)
Saturday March 2, 2013, 8:35 pm
This is what the repugs VOTED FOR. How dare they blame the Dems when THEY VOTED FOR THIS.

Sherri G (128)
Saturday March 2, 2013, 8:40 pm
No one can top Angelica Roll's editorial. Angelica I really think Angelica should send this to the Huffington Post, President Obama at white, the DCCC, National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, AARP, Nancy Pelosi, Leader Boehner and Senate Leader Reid. Your commentary is Excellent and beautifully written. I just asked the President to unsuscribe me to his and/or his staff to stop sending me emails or requests for money. I couldn't believe I answered Nancy Pelosi's request for money to help stop the sequester. Then the Pres. was on TV the very next day saying he was willing to go against his own party to cut "entitlements?". There are no entitlements only "Earned Benefits". I voted and gave money to him and the DCCC trusting they would represent me. NOW I KNOW THAT IS NOT HAPPENING. The Chain CPI to the COLA will cost me $200/month. There are disabled veterans who will lose more. I am not alone I am sure in already eating chicken and $200/month is not (per the President) a token cut. THE TEA PARTY MUST BE STOPPED AND THAT REQUIRES EXPOSING THE GOP, TEA PARTY, AND 1% CORPORATE GREED. Of course, the President and DCCC must also know we are not stupid and can see through all of them.

Helen Porter (39)
Saturday March 2, 2013, 11:25 pm
"me thinks" it's just another reasonable theory.

I think the "brotherhood" is behind it all.

And their Obama isn't as innocent as he pretends to be.

Stephen Brian (23)
Sunday March 3, 2013, 12:55 am
The sequester was proposed by Obama. Is he a member of the Tea Party now?

The fact is that a lot of Tea Partiers believe that the fiscal problems of the U.S. public sector are setting the country up for such a disaster that averting it is more important than immediate economic growth. Consider what happens if the U.S. cannot find investors to purchase the treasury bonds which "fund" its deficit, or even worse, if it cannot even find enough investors to fund the bonds as they mature. Forget about just printing more money: That drives inflation, which devalues current stores of wealth, including the Social Security trust fund. If Tea Partiers really wanted fear, according to what they believe, all they would have to do is encourage quantitative easing and then sit back and wait as the money in the Social Security trust fund loses its buying-power, effectively bankrupting it. They think that reducing the services offered by government is how to cut the deficit, which is a major part of why they want to dismantle much of it.

Louise D (44)
Sunday March 3, 2013, 2:18 am
Having seen the Tea Party trolls that hang around here, engaging in personal attacks I really wonder why they do it as it is rather sad as they just resort to bullying and face it they do proof conclusively that teabaggers suck balls. They also show their ignorance as the original Tea Party was to protest taxation without representation. The US currently has taxation with representation so, using tea is an inappropriate, idiotic idea that accomplishes nothing except pointing out which people are not clever enough to research what they are protesting about.

Arielle S (313)
Sunday March 3, 2013, 7:12 am
The doom and gloom of the Tea Party is bad enough but it is rather clear they would like to destroy the president and the country as well and for me, that is treason, pure and simple. I still maintain that these people have serious mental issues - when they cannot get enough of money and power, they are seriously lacking and should be treated as the mental problems they are.
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