Tea Party

And Now It’s Time for a Breakdown

Cue En Vouge:

Never gonna get it,
Never gonna get it,
Never gonna get it,
Never gonna get it,
Never gonna get it,
Never gonna get it,
Never gonna get it,

Woo, woo, woo, woo!

That is my message to all of you out there who supported the Republicans this last election and thought they would make a material change to reduce the federal deficit. You’re never gonna get it!

All references to 90’s R&B groups aside, let’s take a serious look at this. We are about ready to have a showdown on the debt ceiling. As of yesterday, January 6, 2010, the federal debt subject to the debt ceiling was just shy of $14T. The current ceiling is $14.294T and we will reach that figure sometime between March and May this year. The date cannot be exactly determined because day-to-day receipts and expenditures are not fixed - just like your own budget. (See this entry from 2009 to get a little more detail on short-term Treasury securities.) But, the showdown is coming; there is no doubt about that.

Now, many fiscal conservatives want to see material cuts in the budget. I’d also venture to guess your average Tea Party Republican is squarely opposed to raising the debt ceiling. These GOP supporters are going to be very disappointed when their House leadership (not to mention, and I’m guessing here, all but a handful of GOP Senators) votes to raise the debt ceiling. It is inevitable and what we’ll hear is a bunch of lip service that they’ve made some sort of grand compromise to get us on the right track.

Why I’m not excited about Herman Cain

As you may have heard, Herman Cain is planning on forming an exploratory committee for a presidential run in 2012. I’m not surprised. Cain has always held ambition to hold elected office. He ran for the United States Senate here in Georgia in 2004; losing to now-Senator Johnny Isakson without a runoff.

Many don’t realize that this isn’t the first time Cain, who once served as chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, has discussed a presidential bid. As Matt Lewis has noted, Cain ran for president in 2000.

Like many conservatives, Cain has used the tea party movement as a platform to build up his name and slam the policies of Barack Obama and Democrats. Unfortunately, the criticism of Obama and friends inside the tea party movement is no longer limited to economic policy.

However, Cain was largely silent during the six years of runaway spending under the Bush Administration and a Republican-controlled Congress. Like most Republicans, he only acknowledged his party’s failings after it was too late to do anything about it.

He backed the Wall Street bailout, or according to Cain, the “recovery plan,” as he called it on his radio show. Cain wrote that nationalizing banks “is not a bad thing.” He even went as far as criticizing opponents of the bailout, calling them “free market purists” and absurdly claiming that no valid criticism had been brought forward.

A Despotic Branch

One of the most important outcomes of the November 2010 elections was one that was virtually ignored by the media. In Iowa, all three state Supreme Court justices facing a retention vote were defeated and removed from the bench, the first time that ANY judge in Iowa have been removed since the retention vote was implemented in 1962. And what animus compelled the voters of Iowa to make such a drastic and historic change? Last year the state Supreme Court ruled unanimously, in Varnum v. Brien, to overturn as unconstitutional the vote of the citizens of Iowa making the legal definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman.

And what was the justification for overthrowing the will of the people? On page 15 of the unanimous decision, the court explains that “Our responsibility, however, is to protect constitutional rights of individuals from legislative enactments that have denied those rights, even when the rights have not yet been broadly accepted, were at one time unimagined, or challenge a deeply ingrained practice or law viewed to be impervious to the passage of time.”

Not yet broadly accepted? At one time unimagined? In essence, the court is blatantly admitting their belief in a “living” Constitution, one where “rights” can be created out of thin air by the will of the judicial oligarchy and imposed upon the lesser, unwashed masses who are simply too ignorant to grasp the brilliance of the judges. Such hubris is stunning, yet it is all too common today. Yet due to a media that is often hostile to the Constitution (TEA Party members have been described repeatedly by the media as “extremists” and “fringe elements” for their demands that politicians adhere to the text and intent of the Constitution”), very few people realize just how abusive the judiciary has become.

What Now?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010 will be recorded in the history books as one of the most historic and tumultuous in the annals of American politics. Just two short years after a relative political neophyte named Barack Obama swept across the political landscape, winning the presidency, increasing Democrat majorities in the House and Senate, and driving out record numbers of youth and minorities to the polls with his steady mantra of “Hope and Change”, it seems some of the luster has faded.

Indeed, it is precisely because America saw little hope in their smooth-talking but results-deficient president that they turned on him and his party resoundingly. Even up to Election Day he was rallying the Democrat troops, and Speaker Pelosi was proclaiming that Democrats would retain control of the House, yet the rest of America had seen the writing on the wall for months. As it turned out, the American people had placed their hope in changing the balance of power.

With a smattering of races across the country still too close to call and undergoing recounts, here is what we know. The Republican Party has picked up at least 61 seats in the House, giving them their largest majority there since 1946, and five in the Senate, rendering Democrats impotent in any attempts to ram through any more controversial legislation. Republicans have picked up nearly a dozen governorships, including Michigan and Pennsylvania. The state legislatures in North Carolina and Alabama have turned Republican for the first time since the end of the War Between the States. This was part of the 11-state pick-up for Republicans of state legislatures.

This historic Republican wave ended the tenure of some of the longest serving Democrats, including Ike Skelton (elected in 1976), John Spratt (1983), Paul Kanjorski (1982), Rick Boucher (1982) and Russ Feingold (1992).

Recapping the 2010 mid-term election

“Last night was devastating, no question.” - MoveOn.org

The dust is still settling on last night’s returns. We’re going to hear a lot of analysis over the mid-terms and what it means for both the new majority for House Republicans, Democrats that survived in both chambers and President Barack Obama.

As it currently stands, Republicans gained over 60 seats in the House and six in the Senate. They also picked up at least nine governerships and 19 state legislatures. The states where the GOP made significant gains make up a chunk of the electoral college.

Keith Olbermann and others can deny it all they want, it was a historic night. Newt Gingrich, who was behind the Republican Revolution in 1994, is calling last night “a more decisive repudiation” than what President Bill Clinton faced. The Republican Party will enter the 112th Congress with their largest majority since 1928, during the Hoover Administration, and the largest pick-up for either party since 1948.

A Warning To The GOP: It’s Not About You

Pollster Scott Rasmussen takes a look at the expected results of today’s elections and notes that they have a message for Republicans, but not the one they may think:

The reality is that voters in 2010 are doing the same thing they did in 2006 and 2008: They are voting against the party in power.

This is the continuation of a trend that began nearly 20 years ago. In 1992, Bill Clinton was elected president and his party had control of Congress. Before he left office, his party lost control. Then, in 2000, George W. Bush came to power, and his party controlled Congress. But like Mr. Clinton before him, Mr. Bush saw his party lose control.

That’s never happened before in back-to-back administrations. The Obama administration appears poised to make it three in a row. This reflects a fundamental rejection of both political parties.

More precisely, it is a rejection of a bipartisan political elite that’s lost touch with the people they are supposed to serve. Based on our polling, 51% now see Democrats as the party of big government and nearly as many see Republicans as the party of big business. That leaves no party left to represent the American people.

Voters today want hope and change every bit as much as in 2008. But most have come to recognize that if we have to rely on politicians for the change, there is no hope. At the same time, Americans instinctively understand that if we can unleash the collective wisdom and entrepreneurial spirit of the American people, there are no limits to what we can accomplish.

In this environment, it would be wise for all Republicans to remember that their team didn’t win, the other team lost. Heading into 2012, voters will remain ready to vote against the party in power unless they are given a reason not to do so.

House adjourns without a vote on tax cuts

Yesterday afternoon, the House of Representatives adopted an adjournment resolution, by a vote of 210 to 209 (Speaker Nancy Pelosi cast the tie-breaking vote), that will send them home without taking a vote on extending tax cuts set to expire at the end of the year.

Republicans claimed to have the votes to extend the tax cuts and the numbers would suggest that is likely. Eight Republicans missed the vote, that’s 217 assuming the caucus is together on this issue and the 39 Democrats that voted against their leadership stick around.

There are a couple of Democrats that voted for the resolution that are on record supporting extension of the tax cuts. However, that is now, whether or not they will hold true to their word in a lame duck session, when the pressure is off, is a completely different story.

To add a new wrinkle for Democrats, the Congressional Budget Office warns that increases in taxes will not help our struggling economy:

The Economic Outlook released by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) on Tuesday states that coming tax hikes will hinder spending and hurt recovery efforts.

Mini Revolutions

I’m temporarily living in a small Alabama town that’s still safe enough to allow my children to ride their bikes down the street unattended and to leave your door unlocked while you run to the store.  It’s quaint and seems untouched by the goings on in Washington, DC… and sometimes even Montgomery.  But of course, it’s not.  And conversations with the people you meet at the grocery store or the park reveal that.  People are angry.  Very angry.  Thankfully, they’re also becoming organized and that is starting to make a difference.

I’m not a whole-hearted Tea Partier.  I have my doubts about its long-term effectiveness, especially at a federal level if they continue to put all their efforts behind big-ticket races.  But I think their potential is almost unlimited when it comes to smaller, local offices.

Recently, our town had a street festival featuring music, crafts, vendors and of course, politicians running for office, busy greeting people and kissing babies.  I stopped to talk to one of the candidates who is running for a state house seat as he stood in the middle of the street handing out balloons.  Though my questions were asked with cynicism, the answers returned were thoughtful, sincere and refreshing.  Before too long, I realized I was talking to a real Tea Party candidate.  This guy was a true believer in the need to shrink government and his mannerisms were about as un-politician like as you can get.

But it got better.  As he told his story, it become clear that he had been the underdog in the primary, battling against a better-funded, establishment-picked candidate who hardly qualified to even be called a Republican.  But he’d won.  By a very large margin.

Extremism in American politics is a temporary position

“…some Tea Party-backed candidates and other Republicans have taken positions that many voters consider extreme, like shutting down the government to get their way, privatizing Social Security and Medicare and ending unemployment insurance.” - NY Times

Extremism is probably the buzzword today in politics. By arguing against extremism from your opponent, you paint yourself as the defender of what is just and right. However, the thing to keep in mind is that extremism today is mainstream thought tomorrow.

For example, the idea of “medical marijuana” was extreme for many, many years. Today it’s becoming more and more common. Even more people are coming out in favor of legalization where as a decade ago it was an “extremist” view. The idea of legalizing any drug was a sign of being soft on crime and criminals. Today, it’s soccer moms and even police officers who are taking that stance, not just libertarian whack jobs.

Ideas like privatizing social security sound extreme because the propaganda machine has done a good job of painting it that way. However, as more and more people enter into social security with fewer and fewer people contributing to it, the Ponzi scheme will inevitably fail. What happens then? Well, for one, the system will need serious revision at least. That could mean privatization, or it could mean scrapping the system. Either way, something is going to have to happen and whatever it is will be something that the New York Times says is “extreme”.

Extremism is in the eye of the beholder, at least when it comes to American politics. The idea of government getting out of people’s daily lives doesn’t sound extreme, since that’s kind of what the United States is all about. However, when you argue against seat belt laws, or against the Department of Homeland Security, you get labeled as “extremist”. People forget that we lived just fine without this stuff.

Jim DeMint, Tea Parties Fight the Entrenched Establishment

National Review Online has a great profile of Sen. Jim DeMint today.  Trent Lott is wrong, we need a whole Senate full of Jim DeMint disciples…

On the candidates he’s backing through the Senate Conservatives Fund and with the help of Tea Party groups:

These candidates are leaders in their own right. I’m supporting them, because they’re not running on some consultant’s talking points. They’re running on principle.” Jockeying for a leadership position, he says, is not his focus. “What I’m interested in is turning this country away from its fiscal cliff — and for the first time since Reagan, I think that we have a chance for real action, not just political posturing.”

On the GOP establishment:

Still, without naming names, DeMint remains critical of many establishment GOP senators. Earlier this summer, former Senate majority leader Trent Lott (Miss.) told the Washington Post that the Senate does not “need a lot of Jim DeMint disciples.” Party leaders, he said, need to move quickly to “co-opt” any rabble-rousing conservatives who may find their way to the marble halls of Washington. DeMint, with a hint of disgust, says, “We need to realize that Trent Lott was speaking for many senior Republicans.”

Looking at what’s happened in Republican primaries across the country—most recently with Joe Miller in Alaska—the GOP establishment has a reason to be worried.

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