Point of View Columns

Wolves in Wolf’s Clothing

Since its raucous birth in the spring of 2009 the Tea Party Movement has bawled and brayed that its foundation is based upon principles of fiscal probity. Balancing the federal budget was the one banner under which all of the Tea Partiers marched and the budget became the field upon which all battles would be fought.

Most reasonable people would agree that reckless financing is not a good way to run a government – federal, state and local. But most reasonable people would also agree that government is not a business and it exists to serve and service the people within its jurisdiction, not turn a profit.

When the federal government incurs debt in order to provide services and to insure that this country is prepared for the future, it is not wrong and it is not evil. It is what government is supposed to do.

Much has been made of the metaphor of the “typical” American family that keeps its finances in order and never, ever, ever lives beyond its means. Of course that is a myth of absurd proportions.

While too many Americans live beyond their means by floating on flimsy credit on the seas of debt, even prudent families borrow money for important items that cannot be covered by day to day revenue – housing (mortgages), education (college loans) and transportation (automobile loans).

The fact that the federal government would borrow in order to provide for infrastructure maintenance and development, health, education, defense and countless other invaluable and indispensable services should not be the cause of alarm.

A reliable infrastructure is crucial to commercial progress. An unhealthy and uneducated nation simply cannot compete in the global marketplace. And while defense may seem to be an obvious function of government, there has to be something worth defending in the first place.

But the Tea Partiers and the G.O.Tea Party and the right wing of the right wing have beaten the budget drum slowly and loudly. No service and no cause is too important that it cannot be sacrificed on the altar of a balanced budget.

Yet no one mentions to these naked emperors and empresses that it will be impossible to take even baby steps down the road towards a balanced budget as long a gargantuan tax cuts are doled out to the richest of the rich in perpetuity.

You don’t have to be a Nobel Prize winning economist to realize that the Holy Grail of the Tea Partiers and their ilk is not a balanced budget. Their goal is the dismantling of government as it has existed for the last half century, in the process eviscerating and eliminating programs that have goals and objectives that are contrary to their belief system.

Their goal is rolling back the socio-political agenda that has given rise to civil rights, women’s rights, children’s rights, environmental guardianship and investment in the future.

The Tea Partiers and the right wing of the right wing have not been subtle as they seek to wield a cleaver to the federal budget with Viking-like precision. Two weeks ago the Republican led United States House of Representatives (infused with the fury of over 80 Republican freshmen) voted budget cuts that would virtually cripple the Public Broadcast System and Planned Parenthood.

The total expenditures involved are miniscule in the context of the trillions of dollars in the federal budget or the $100 billion budget cutting goal of the Tea Partiers themselves.

But there must be blood. And the blood sought is clearly flowing through the veins of programs and initiatives that help men, women and children who need assistance.

Not just impoverished Americans but young people who want to go to college and young families who want their children to have the early childhood advantage of Head Start. There are programs on the killing floor that will repair and build an infrastructure that will help the entrepreneurs of the future compete rather than migrate to China, India and Europe where those expenditures and investments have been made for over two decades and counting.

Meanwhile Midas-like Wall Street bonuses and bloated farm subsidies remain intact and untouchable. The accretion of wealth is glorified and tomorrow is supposed to take care of itself.

No family and no country can survive with that kind of plan. The Tea Partiers don’t have a plan – they have a vision and the consequences of that vision could be awful not only for today, but for many tomorrows to come.

Say this for the Tea Partiers. They haven’t tried to deceive. Indeed, they are wolves in wolf’s clothing.

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