Tea party postition on debt ceiling and tax increases is irresponsible

And just what is it that Nullifier, Toleration, Proletarian, Progressive, Vegetarian, Communist, Union, Christian, Silver and Tea have in common? They are all political parties that have, or in the case of Tea, will be, consigned to the dust bin of history. They were born of some perceived, or perhaps real, sleight at the hand of the federal government, attracted followings of various sizes with varying degrees of enthusiasm and then died.

Many, including the tea party, claimed to channel the founding fathers, to have some direct connection to the inner workings of the brains of those men who wrote the documents that have guided the United States for 235 years. That’s difficult to fathom. Tea partyers have nothing whatsoever in common with the founders. In fact, the founders were the kind of people the tea partyers love to hate. The founders were men, white men all, of arts and letters and science. They were learned men, scholars and writers. Many were lawyers. They were, in a word, the elites of their day. And we know what the tea partyers think about elitists.

Anyway, the founders didn’t envision a system where grown men and women would refuse to compromise. To the contrary, they envisioned a government in which men and now women of good faith would sit down and reach deals in the best interest of everyone. They had no use for people who would draw lines in the sand. After all, sand is generally found on the beach or in sandboxes, and that’s where children go to play.

Alas, that is where we find ourselves. People who call themselves grown-ups have said no new taxes and that line cannot be breached. Nobody wants more taxes. They should have thought about that when W. was running up deficits. Obama has done his share, but it started with Bush and nobody was complaining then.

But what’s done is done. To say no new taxes now is selfish in the extreme. It doesn’t take a genius to do the math. Michele Bachmannn might even be able to do it. We can’t pay all the bills with existing revenues. Even in Bachmannn’s world, two plus two still equals four. So to say no new taxes is to say let’s leave our kids and grandkids a staggering amount of debt we ran up. That’s irresponsible. A better rallying cry might be no new federal programs.

But the tea partyers are adamant: It’s no new taxes. Has anyone heard tea partyers say what they will give up? Will they give up their socialized medicine? Their Social Security? Something has to go.

Bachmann, whose wisdom comes in lightning bolts from the heavens, maybe even etched on stone tablets, says not to worry if we default on our obligations. The ripple effects will be minuscule. The economy won’t even notice it. She goes so far as to say it might even be good for the economy.

Real economists, on the other hand, who actually know about such things, say the failure to reach a debt ceiling deal could cost as many as a million jobs. And the tea partyers are among those who are complaining about the high unemployment rate.

If you have a job now, and don’t lose it because of political posturing in Washington, then Bachmann might be correct. Maybe you’ll feel no pain. That is if you have all your money under your mattress and you have no mortgage. Say if you live in a cave, for example.

Employment will be just one consequence of the lack of a debt ceiling deal. The impact, both in the near term and the long term, on the markets is a big unknown, as is the effect on interest rates. Although again, people who know about those things predict the consequences will be negative and long-lasting. Interest rates almost certainly will rise and will stay at higher levels for a long time.

The founders were wise. They envisioned much. They may even have envisioned people as unreasonable as the tea partyers. Who knows?

The tea partyers may blather endlessly on Fox News about the grand crusade they are on, but most of the country still understands responsibility. Two-thirds of Americans think any debt ceiling agreement should include spending cuts and revenue increases — not because they want more taxes but because they realize if we spent the money, we have to pay the bills.

Denny Herzog is the retired executive editor of The Daily Sentinel. E-mail him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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