I was working on a metaphor for this piece: the Tea Party as the sober, designated driver, steering the Ford (no bail outs there!) to Fiscal Sanityville, all the while the drunken Establishment, both Democrat and Republican, keep grabbing at the wheel, trying to head the car into the ditch. But, alas, in reality the drunks are behind the wheel, driving 100mph towards the ravine, all the while ignoring the plaintiff cries of reduced spending, lower taxes, and less regulation coming from the back seat.
So, now that the debt ceiling debate is behind us, the credit rating of the United States is safe, all of our most cherished values as Americans, as exemplified by our spending priorities, are securely on their pedestal and the president was dealt a resounding defeat by the Tea Party. That’s the story that we are being fed, anyway. The liberal narrative runs the gamut from the media calling this a Tea Party “victory “to VP Joe Biden calling them “terrorists” for taking the process hostage. Markos Moulitsas from the Daily Kos commented on Twitter that the post-deal stock market was down because it didn’t like the “austerity” of the deal. Really?!?! Austerity? In what universe is adding $2.4 trillion dollars in debt, in new spending that we can’t afford, considered “austerity?” And now, with the debt ceiling debate over, its time, once again, to concentrate on jobs, something that Obama has been saying for the duration of his presidency, even as the unemployment consistently creeps up.
The reality of what just happened, however, stands in stark contrast to this tale. What really happened was just a preservation of the status quo: that of spending money that we don’t have and going deeper and deeper into debt. Is there really anything here to celebrate?
The Tea Party and the country lost this debate before it ever began. There was no talk about IF we should raise the debt ceiling but simply when we should raise it and by how much. There was no real debate, not even from the Republicans, about rolling back spending, but just slowing its growth…a little.
One has to wonder if the whole thing was just some sort of political theater, staged in part by the Republican Establishment in Washington, DC to pacify the Tea Party. “Look at us, we’re on your side. We’re trying to reign in Washington, just like you.” All the GOP did was to delay what even they saw as inevitable. The winner here, again, was just the status quo. Skittish RINO's threw in the towel before the fight had really even started. The only value highlighted by the debt ceiling debate was the anti-value of compromise. You can compromise on where you eat dinner, but not on your core values. Sure, there were a few good things about the final bill, but the end result was just trillions more in debt.
The only promising thing is, without the Tea Party influence, the debate wouldn't have happened at all. Establishment Republicans would have rolled over and increased the ceiling even more than the final deal and probably would have given in on tax increases, as well. Polls show that only 22% of Tea Party supporters support the final debt ceiling bill and enough of them voted against the bill to keep the final tally interesting.
The good news? This debate is not over. We get to do it all again in September when the super committee goes to work on the budget. So, there is still work to do and again the Tea Party will be the work horse in any attempt move us back to fiscal sanity.