Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Hypocrisy of the Tea Party (and Republicans)

I saw an interesting statistic recently. A poll on the popularity of Social Security and Medicare revealed that 73 or so percent of the American people support these programs. That’s not very surprising. What is surprising is 62% of self identified Tea Party supporters also are in favor of these programs. Keep in mind that both of these programs were initiated by Democrats, Social Security by F.D.R. and Medicare by Lyndon Johnson. These programs are straight-forward wealth transfer entitlement programs designed to pay benefits to one group with the taxes extracted from another group. The very same type of socialistic programs the Tea Party rails against.

The Tea Party movement is primarily a response to the alarming levels of debt that have accumulated in the Bush 43 and Obama administrations, most of which was caused by the recent economic/financial crisis. But I don’t see the Tea Party as our salvation. True, they’ve awakened many to the problem, but the fact of the matter is they, like many of us, are also part of the problem.

Thirty-two percent of the current Federal Budget goes to Social Security and Medicare. Only 38.6% of the 2011 $3.554T budget is discretionary and almost half of that is defense spending, probably the most constitutional of all spending and the spending that supports what all politicians agree is the “primary” role of government, protection of its citizens. So, from where are the cuts to come??

Most Republicans who are sympathetic to the Tea Party movement like Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee equivocate and only promise an “adult conversation” about solutions while Tea Party politicians like Michele Bachmann are actually discussing cuts in Medicare and Social Security by “weaning” those that don’t need it from the system, this is known in policy circles as “means testing”. It’ll be interesting to see how long she supports such policies when her constituents get wind of this…assuming her constituency tracks the same as those in the above poll.

The Tea Party movement should give freedom loving Americans hope. It shows that liberty still has a pulse. But my point is it’s a weak pulse. To rail against socialism but support SOCIAL security and Medicare when it benefits oneself is hypocritical in the extreme and reveals a perverse understanding of freedom and its corollary, personal responsibility.

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