Old? Sick? Poor? Unemployed? Don’t worry, the Tea Party is here to “save” you. Perhaps you’re familiar with the budget priorities of Tea Party darling Paul Ryan, head of the House budget committee, but if you’re not, they’re simple: cut spending for government programs that help people. That’s it. That’s the plan, in a nutshell. The Ryan budget would do the following:
Rather than decrease military spending, the plan reduces projected outlays elsewhere. The proposal, which emerged from the House Budget Committee chaired by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.)…would cut $83 billion in federal retirement benefits (equal to about a 5 percent pay cut) [and] slash about $48 billion from Medicaid programs and cut food aid by more than $36 billion.
But why? Why is the neo-extreme right doing this? Basically, they don’t care much about the poor and needy. They say that’s because there’s a safety net. But what’s happening to that net? The New Yorker enlightens us about Ryan’s goals:
Ryan doesn’t exactly hide his hostility to government, but he’s adept at downplaying the impact that his proposed cuts would have on people’s lives. Thus the part of the plan titled “Repairing the Social Safety Net” in fact calls for huge cuts in spending on Medicaid, food stamps, Pell grants, and so on—all of which will unquestionably damage the social safety net and make life harder for millions of Americans. This is about as disingenuous as calling a company’s downsizing initiative “Boosting Our Labor Force.” Reforming the welfare state is a reasonable goal. But when Ryan explains that he’s doing things like cutting Medicaid in order to help “the less fortunate get back on their feet” one hears echoes of Judge Smails, in “Caddyshack,” explaining that he sentenced young criminals to death because “I felt I owed it to them.”
What does this have to do with Ted Cruz, the soon-to-be Tea Party Senator from Texas? Ted has the same views, (but with generic, soulless class warfare code that Tea Party lawyers like him are good at). Basically don’t be afraid to hurt people:
“It is absolutely clear if we are going to address spending and the deficit and the debt we have got to address entitlements in a serious way. Historically, politicians have been terrified to do that. They have been terrified that they will be demagogued. In my judgment, we are at a moment of time where serious leadership is possible to address entitlements and to look for a way both to restrain the exploding unfunded liabilities of our entitlements and also provide for more individual ownership, responsibility and choice both with respect to Medicare and Social Security.”
“…Bipartisanship ought to consist of Democrats coming to the Republican point of view…If we [win the House, Senate, and White House] bipartisanship means they have to come our way…” ~ Indiana Tea Party Senate Candidate Richard Mourdock
The political world absorbed a chilling message Wednesday from the fall of Washington icon Sen. Richard Lugar: Rabid partisanship is popular, especially in Republican primaries, and cutting deals with political opponents is not. Lugar’s defeat will have ripple effects nationally in this year’s elections and in the Senate, where he’s served since 1977.
Anyone looking for common ground in a deeply divided Congress is likely to be more intimidated now. This month alone, lawmakers have failed to reach accords on matters that usually find consensus: highway construction, student-loan interest rates and help for victims of domestic violence.
Sh!t just got real. Do Something about it. There’s a difference between the two parties, as I’ve said many, many times. The neo right-wing are anti-middle class, anti-healthcare, anti-seniors, anti-poor people, but very much in favor of lowering taxes for the wealthy. This latest election underscores the fact that the Tea Party is ascendant (and not just in the US Congress, in state legislatures across the country). They are a new breed of virulent “Republitarians” who espouse what they claim as traditional republican ideals but with an extremist libertarian twist, and they’re threatening to take over. This is not good news, because your “humanistic” views about decency are not shared by the Tea Party. But what we have here is a clarion call to the left: Get active. Stop conflating the parties as the same. Stop bitching about Obama. And instead work on seeing the similarities among our progressive compatriots that unite us, rather than the differences that divide us. Because that suits an agenda, alright, but I doubt if it’s the agenda that you want. Oh, and get out and vote. Apparently, voting makes a difference. Because even though they might not be spelling bee champions, that’s one thing that the Tea Partier know how to do very well indeed.