In Washington and in Lansing, tea party zealots are costing us a fortune as they waste our hard-earned tax dollars


This is what happens when you elect people who hate the government to run the government

Whether it’s the Tea Party Nation,, the Tea Party Express, the Tea Party Patriots, or any number of the myriad local tea party groups across the country, their message is the same: We hate president Obama Shrink government and lower our taxes. “TEA”, they tell us, means “taxed enough already”. Never mind that tax rates are lower now than they’ve been in decades. The top tax rate today is around 35%. When Ronald Reagan took office, it was 70%.

The Tea Partarians in Congress tell us that the fight over raising the budget ceiling is all about reining in government spending. We don’t have a revenue problem, they tell us, we have a spending problem. We just need to quit wasting money on all of these government boondoggles.

What they mean, of course, is that we need to stop helping the most vulnerable and politically impotent members of our society: minorities and the poor. But they would never say that in public. No, their public stance is that the government is wasting money and they are there to put a stop to it.

Except that they are actually wasting our tax dollars at an astonishing rate. The budget sequester alone is impeding our economy by killing upwards of 1.6 million jobs by next year and is slowing the GDP growth. Combined with the higher interest rates the government is charged thanks to credit rating downgrades by major ratings agencies over the past two years and the overall impact of the budget sequester is to INCREASE the deficit. Part of the compromise extracted from Democrats as a condition for reopening government and raising the debt limit was to lock in the economy-killing sequester cuts at spending levels near the Paul Ryan Austerity Plan.

This past week we learned that the farcical Republican shutdown of the federal government sucked $24 BILLION out of our economy. This will lead to slower job growth, depressed tax revenues and, yes, an even higher deficit, all thanks to a group of recalcitrant tea party zealots who have convinced themselves and their slavish followers that they are actually saving us money. Down is up. War is peace.

Here in Michigan, you can feel the impact of tea partiers wasting our money when you drive down the road. Our roads and highways are crumbling but the Republicans in our state legislature can’t find the money to repair them. What’s worse, the Detroit News reports that, thanks to our Republican-dominated Senate’s refusal to give the bill that expands Medicaid in Michigan “immediate effect”, something they have done for roughly 94% of the 106 new laws they passed in 2013, we will not only lose over $600 million in federal revenue, the delay also reduces funding available for road repair:

Lost in the Republican-led Legislature’s contentious approval of Medicaid expansion last month was a provision specifying legislators’ “intent” to put $193 million in savings into roads on top of a $230 million increase already committed in the budget that began this month. The state saves money under the law because mental health treatment and some prisoner costs it covers instead will be paid with federal Medicaid dollars.

Since Senate Republicans, deeply divided over implementing a key component of the Affordable Care Act, fell short of putting the expansion into effect Jan. 1, the state will save roughly $120 million, one-third less than expected, when more people are covered starting in late March or early April.

This goes beyond the proverbial “self inflicted wound”. Actions like these, taken by inexperienced, ignorant ideologues with no clue whatsoever about the impacts of their self-destructive governing, are making things worse for everyone and costing us massive amounts of tax payer money. What’s most astonishing is that they seem to be completely oblivious of their monumental hypocrisy on this issue. They are so focused on grandstanding and posturing with symbolic gestures to appease their tea party base that they refuse to see (or at least publicly admit) that they are harming our state’s recovery.

Part of it, of course, is the diabolical plan Republicans have of making people hate government and then running on an “elect me because I hate government, too” platform. But mostly, it’s due to a willful ignorance about governing and the economy and investing for the future. They lack the foresight and, perhaps, the intellect to play out the scenario they are putting into play through its denouement.

At the end of the day, the winners in all of this are, once again, the corporatists. The ongoing effort to make people hate government and convince them that the private sector will solve all problems means more outsourcing to for-profit corporations. Higher unemployment means lower wages and higher corporate profits. The more they control government, the more money they stand to make, much of it by redirecting tax monies into their corporate bank accounts.

So, the next time your tea party brother-in-law or your tea party coworker starts ranting about government spending, remind them that it’s that sort of thinking that is actually making things worse and INCREASING the deficit.

Sadly, I should probably warn you that they won’t believe a word of it.

[Photos by Chris Savage | Eclectablog]