Op-Eds Speaking Truth to the Powers-That-Be
Now I know why they call it the Tea Party. It isn’t for their links to American history in Boston Harbor. It’s their lineage to the delusional Mad Hatter and his pals from Alice in Wonderland.
With just days remaining before the debt ceiling disaster, which they are engineering to back the government into a corner, and leads to a second global melt-down, the latest Teahadi proposal, called “Cap Cut and Balance” is straight out of Fantasyland. One element makes the whole proposal a DOA as a matter of the time window, if nothing else.
The New York Times sums up the proposal best:
“While negotiations continued, House and Senate Republicans plan to focus their energy this week on the so-called cut, cap and balance proposal embraced by conservatives. It would reduce spending next year by more than $100 billion, cap future spending based as a percentage of the economy and require a balanced-budget amendment to be approved by Congress and sent to the states for ratification before the debt limit could be increased.” 
On the surface, it sounds like a lot of the same kinds of measures that Republicans have dished up in the past, and may have the air of good judgement until you get to the last “big concept, that it requires “a balanced-budget amendment to be approved by Congress and sent to the states for ratification before the debt limit could be increased.”
Constitutional Amendments are virtually impossible to get passed. Fiscal ones don’t get passed quickly.
To get the Amendment passed on the Hill, you have to have enough members of both parties, in the House and Senate who can agree to get the bill moving. Then you have to have the legislatures of a majority of all fifty states so wired as well. Does our current political situation look, like anyone, to be a time where we’re apt to see that level of legislative cooperation? Forget Washington, which is a non-starter. A majority of the country is in gridlock because of the Teahadis.
The crackpots of the Tea Party see their current Red Revolution in a chunk of the states and gleefully figure that they can pull off a balanced budget amendment, the Holy Grail of the Libertarian loon. They forget that there are a slew of recalls in motion in several states, and that there will be a big reaction in the general election against what the Teahadis have been doing.
Even if there was the political will to pull off such an Amendment in the states, there is not the time. The Tea Party proposal is not realistic. We have days, not the weeks months and years needed to hash out a balanced-budget amendment. Budget arguments are tied into the heart of the disagreements that the Left and the Right have as to what, exactly, government should be. This war between the Hatfields and the McCoys has been going on for more than a hundred years, and is not apt to end any time soon.
Just to enlighten those friends, neighbors and colleagues who enjoy the taste of Kool-Aid flavored tea, the U.S. Constitution has been amended 27 times in its history. The 27th, which deals with Congressional salaries, was proposed in 1789 and enacted in 1992. Some of the non-contentious amendments, like the 26th raising the voting age to 18 in 1971, took less than a year. The only amendment that deals with financial matters, the 16th Amendment, which provides for a federal income tax, took almost four years (1909-1913).
There are four Amendments, including one which preserves slavery, which are still open, and two, including the Equal Rights Amendment of the 1970s, which somewhat expired .
What the proposal does prove is that Mr. Boehner and Mr. McConnell have no control of their party. The Teahadis have taken over.
They lack the understanding of the difference between governing and the utopianism of electioneering. In an election, we gleefully talk, from whatever our perspective, about what we would like to get done. We send in our team. They send in theirs. Ultimately we are supposed to get what the Framers of the Constitution wanted: Imperfect compromise. Rarely does anyone in politics walk away with ideologically pure policy that remains sound legislation for the ages.
We are seeing what I warned about before the November 2010 mid-terms: If the Tea Party came in to government, and Mr. Boehner, their shepherd, could not keep control of his flock, we would be faced not only with gridlock, but with the same problem that plagues places like Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan: Utopian idealism.
The Teahadis lack the pragmatism and understanding of compromise essential to the continuing operation of our government. They are of the mob, and backed by the slavish devotion to the opinion polling of the mob, a small, ignorant, dogmatic and loud minority of the general electorate.
The Tea Party members cannot see their way to compromise on something so necessary as keeping our full faith and credit in good standing. They cannot have the political maturity to swallow their promise of no new taxes to the UBER RICH, that 3% given by Bush to the ultra-wealthy that is needed to help return us back to the road of balance and fiscal responsibility after our trillions fiascos in the wars and relaxing rules on Wall Street.
Come 2012, the absolutely essential thing to do is to make sure that all of them are shown the exit door to Congress, and that no Teahadi presidential candidate lands in the White House.
My shiny two.