“We put you in and we can take you out” seems to be the message Tea Party leaders are sending Republicans in Congress.
Tea Party leaders referred to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) as “John Maynard Boehner” and called Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and more than one dozen other Republican leaders “RINOs — Republicans-In-Name-Only” — during a press conference in May at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. Several nationally known economists and public policy experts also spoke.
Tea Party leaders accuse Boehner, Ryan and other Republican leaders in Congress of betraying Tea Partiers who helped give Republicans control of Congress in the last election. The betrayal comes in the form of “microscopic” budget cuts several weeks ago to avoid a government shutdown, and willingness to compromise with Democrats to raise the federal government’s debt ceiling.
The “John Maynard Boehner” reference is a play on John Maynard Keynes, the father of “Keynesian” economic theory, which calls for government to spend and borrow more to stimulate slowing economies. Opponents of Keynesian theory blame it for deepening and prolonging economic downturns and expanding government at the expense of the private sector.
Betrayal of Grassroots
Boehner has betrayed the grassroots movement by reneging on a promised $100 billion in budget cuts — and declining to use “strategic inaction” on the debt ceiling to force reform of health care entitlements, including repeal of ObamaCare, said William Temple, chairman of the Tea Party National Convention.
“Boehner and his Republicans are fiddling while Rome burns,” Temple said. “The $38 billion in 2011 cuts they claimed [to avoid government shutdown last month] were actually just $20 billion – about five days worth of U.S. borrowing! Washington is piling 40 cents per dollar of federal spending, $4 billion per day, on to the national debt and our children’s backs, yet these wimpy House RINOSs refuse to hide President Obama’s Mastercard!”
‘This is the Alamo For Us’
“This is a throwdown issue; this is the Alamo for us,” said Temple of the Tea Party’s stand against raising the debt ceiling. “We don’t want to see the government continue this wasteful spending. The Tea Party is going to hold every RINO accountable. This issue alone is going to determine if they have somebody running against them in their next primary.”
He said he and other Tea Party leaders are fed up with establishment politicians of both major political parties.
‘Hardly a Dime’s Bit of Difference’
“We don’t care what a person calls himself. There’s hardly a dime’s bit of difference between Democrats and Republicans,” Temple says. “The establishment types are all over government. This is not about changing seats. This is about taking back the government. A lot of them don’t get it yet.”
Temple spent 32 years working for the federal government, including in the Secret Service. So it’s not that Temple is anti-government. He says he’s anti-wasteful, abusive and overreaching government.
“It’s become an out-of-control behemoth. Our political leaders have completely inverted the Constitutional limited government we started with,” Temple says.
‘Timid Attempts at Best’
“The Republicans are going to see we’re not going away. We elected Scott Brown [as a Republican senator to replace the late Democratic Party icon, Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts] when nobody thought that could happen. We gave them a big majority in Congress. We put Republicans into governorships and state legislatures. And what we’ve seen is timid attempts at best,” to control government spending and debt, said Bob Vander Plaats, vice chairman of the Tea Party Freedom Jamboree.
He said claims that the debt ceiling must be raised for the government to avoid default “is not true. “I used to teach accounting and economics, and it’s called setting priorities and living within your means,” he said. “We think increasing the credit card limit to people who’ve shown they can’t handle a credit card is dangerous.”
Not Automatic Default
Brian S. Wesbury, former chief economist to the Joint Economic Committee of Congress, also rejected claims that keeping the debt ceiling at its current level of $14.3 trillion would result in a government default on its debt.
“Not once in the past 65 years has the monthly interest due on debt exceeded monthly Treasury revenues,” Wesbury said.
“As long as the Treasury Secretary manages cash correctly, the U.S. will not default on its obligations to its creditors. Global financial markets are perfectly able to comprehend the nuances of this debate. If the debt limit is used as a tool by some politicians to force serious, significant and durable corrections to the long-term budget deficit, the markets would react in a very positive manner. Servicing the debt and paying for the operations of government are not equivalent. As long as the debt is serviced, cutting spending, laying-off workers, or slowing down payment for budgeted items is not the equivalent of default.”
Allen Unruh, a South Dakota chiropractor and Tea Party leader who made ObamaCare the target of the movement’s fury, said, “The Tea Party, conservatives and independents of all stripes fought tooth-and-nail to stop ObamaCare in 2010 — and yet in 2011, RINO Boehner doesn’t even have the horns to demand repeal of ObamaCare as a baseline condition of a debt vote! If the House GOP goes with him, RINO season opens with the 2012 Republican primaries.”
Steve Stanek ([email protected]) is a research fellow at The Heartland Institute and managing editor of Budget & Tax News.