11/08/2010 11:46 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The Tea Is Tainted

The Tea Party patriots and the establishment Republicans were right after all. A mere three days after their historic refudiation of Obama's socialistic jihad against capitalism the country experienced the largest jump in new jobs statistics in the nearly two years that the occupation government has been in power. It took them two days to do what Obama was unable to accomplish in nearly two years, quite impressive indeed.

The very thought of Rand Paul, Ron Johnson, Marco Rubio and an infantry of constitutional conservatives headed for Congress was enough to tip the scales and initiate a full scale economic recovery. My, the true power of the private sector flexing its economic muscles certainly puts the anemic impotence of a bloated government bureaucracy to shame. For the next two years Republicans can lay claim to resuscitating the ailing economy and producing jobs.

As absurd as this may seem on the face of it I am convinced that the spin machine behind the rise of these self-proclaimed revolutionaries will spring into action to claim credit where credit is certainly not due. After all, in this 24 hour news cycle society, immediate gratification trumps sustainability; short-term results outdistance long-term thinking; and winning the battle is more important than winning the war.

Our political system operates off a system of rewards and penalties, and politicians are rewarded for accelerating benefits and avoiding costs. They reap rewards for kicking the can down the road, and are lionized for drawing attention to problems. However, they are penalized for actually making the tough decisions required to solving problems, ridiculed for even suggesting that sacrifice may be required to address imbalances, such as debt and the deficit, and scorned for pragmatism.

This is the contemporary environment in which our policies and electoral decisions are made and the result is a polarized and dysfunctional system of governance. No clearer a message was evident last week than in a pique of anger Americans signaled their dissatisfaction with the status quo by reinforcing its inability to reach consensus. The mess Obama inherited was not created overnight; it was a culmination of years of blissful neglect. It certainly was not going to be solved overnight. The economic recovery required a steady hand, and fundamental soundness was made far more difficult by the intransigence of the Republican Party who vowed to fight the President at every turn. But the economy is recovering, albeit much slower than anyone would wish and those who attempted to obstruct serious problem solving have now been rewarded with a misconceived "mandate" to obstruct at will.

The real ideological war about to unfold is not between capitalism and socialism; it is not between Keynesianism and Hooverism, but rather between those advocating unpopular but necessary long-term solutions and those advocating popular and politically expedient remedies certain to appeal to a generation of individuals who have unknowingly profited handsomely from the very government-directed funding they now so vociferously attack.
Borrowing is as American as apple pie. To most Americans, those who did not earn their money the old fashion way by inheriting it, dreams are built on borrowing money we do not have to make a better life for ourselves, whether it is borrowing for a small business, for a home, a college education, or a car. We borrow today so that we will be better off tomorrow. The same applies to the government; it borrows today to resuscitate the economy in the hope that the economy will make a better life for society tomorrow.

The trick is to pay the money back once you have means to do so. Unfortunately, in both Democratic and Republican Administrations and Congresses over the years, we did not pay off our debts. This was particularly true during the 1980's, under the cover of the Reagan revolution when our national debt trebled over the course of a decade. Investing in society requires investments, and revenues to the government come in the form of taxes. We didn't mind reducing taxes to enhance growth, but we then forgot to pay off our debt when we had the ability to do so.

The ill-informed or deliberately and deviously disingenuous platform advanced by the radical right is that we need only look at spending, and more specifically discretionary spending, and make cuts to start paying down the debt. It is unclear how much they want to pay down immediately, but assuming that the current year deficit is somewhere in the range of $1.4 trillion, that would be larger than the entire discretionary budget that is slightly less than $1.4 trillion. Half of that discretionary budget is eaten up by defense spending, which one might assume would also be off-limits to these tea party patriots.

Even in the new math, eliminating the entire discretionary budget, and gutting most operations of the Federal government, simply do not add up. Of course the mother lode of spending, over $2 trillion involves the so-called entitlement programs, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and interest on the National debt. One might also assume that these programs are off limits as well.

Now I will submit that the average individual is unaware of such detail and there is really no reason why they should feel anything other than it is the province of the elected and candidates for election who should know such things. Unfortunately, why would you trust these folks to man-up and be honest and candid with you on such things if you believe the system is not acting in your interest in the first place? Well you probably figured that those who were running to replace the power elites had an honest to goodness desire to serve. You might be right, but the verdict is out on that and the evidence does not suggest that to be the case.

The argument advanced by the prophets of small government vis-a-vis the deficit and debt are phony. Either knowingly or otherwise they have hoodwinked a large number of citizens into thinking they were serious advocates of fiscal responsibility. In actuality, they have become pawns in the Republican army's assault upon the Democrats and the White House. Some pretend that the Republican Party has been co-opted by the Tea Baggers when it is actually the other way around.

If you cast your vote on November 2 thinking that you were protesting the status quo, which essentially was one government body with two heads, one Republican and one Democratic, are you going to be surprised when you wake up next year to find a government in perpetual gridlock? In that scenario no one wins.

You have been duped and have merely strengthened the very situation you are most concerned about. So where will your protest go the next time around?