E.J. Dionne writes that The Tea Party is Winning.
Washington is acting as if the only real problem the United States confronts is the budget deficit; the only test of leadership is whether the president is willing to make big cuts in programs that protect the elderly; and the largest threat to our prosperity comes from public employees.....Let's be clear on what these budget cutters want to cut: programs that take care of the poor, that pay for medical research and education, clean water, etc. Even Wall Street agrees that these cuts as currently proposed would damage the economy. Evidence is solid that these cuts would lead to the loss of jobs (as Speaker Boehner, the orange man said, "So Be It."). Repealing "Obamacare" such as it is would COST money. This is an ideological battle, not a political one.
Thanks to the Tea Party, we are now told that all our problems will be solved by cutting government programs. Thus the House Republicans' budget bill passed Saturday. They foresee nirvana if we simply reduce our spending on Head Start, Pell grants for college access, teen pregnancy prevention, clean-water programs, K-12 education and a host of other areas.
Does anyone really think that cutting such programs will create jobs or help Americans get ahead?
There's also a moral component which is deeply disturbing.
The glee of young conservatives in Congress and state governments is disturbing. Those who are years from needing Medicare and fortunes from needing Medicaid are making life-or-death decisions on behalf of older Americans, and are showing troubling unconcern.
Those who wouldn't send their children to an inner-city school are making decisions about public education. Those who have cadged every dollar from polluters, bankers and pension-stealing employers are making decisions on behalf of those abused by those donors.
They cheer each other on and wrap themselves in a flag that all of us have worked to protect. They claim moral supremacy while serving their own interests. They boast of prudence and fiscal responsibility, while handing favors to the mega-wealthy and allowing infrastructure to crumble.
Where is the sadness? Where is the sense of being conflicted? Where is the discomfort in making decisions that others aren't in a position to make but whose interests matter every bit as much as the wealthy writing big checks?
The budget battles under way show a take-no-prisoners disregard for the vulnerable that violates everything this nation has stood for. Then these oligarchs and their protectors have the gall to declare themselves "patriots" and worthy successors to those who threw off such monarchical arrogance.
In the next few days, I'll continue to highlight some of the disturbing acts of the Tea Partiers and try to invigorate you with the moral need to stand up to them and push back.