Jim covered Congress and The White House during the George W. Bush administration for The Washington Times, and worked as a reporter, editorial writer and columnist for newspapers in Pennsylvania, Virginia, and California. He has appeared on the Fox News Channel, CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, and many local and national talk radio shows to talk politics and policy.
Latest posts by Jim Lakely (see all)
The talking point of the weekend from the Obama administration and Congressional Democrats was that Standard & Poor’s reduction of the U.S. government’s credit rating from sterling AAA to less-shiny AA-plus was the fault of the Tea Party movement and the freshmen they put into the House and Senate last year. As of Sunday night, if you googled (in quotes) “Tea Party Downgrade,” you got 11,000 hits. That number is sure to skyrocket in the coming weeks , but the argument (if you want to call it one) is absurd.
Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) trotted out the line on Meet the Press Sunday morning:
“I believe this is without question the Tea Party downgrade,” he said. “This is the Tea Party downgrade because a minority of people in the House of Representatives countered the will of even many of Republicans in the United States Senate who were prepared to do a bigger deal.”
Obama political operative David Axelrod (who likely coined the phrase and passed it along to Kerry and others), said the same on Face The Nation:
On the CBS program “Face the Nation,” Mr. Obama’s longtime political adviser, David Axelrod, made clear that Democrats would seek to brand the rating as a “Tea Party downgrade.” He said Mr. Obama had been willing to compromise on issues sacred to liberals by curbing spending on entitlements, but the deal foundered because “Republicans are having to respond to this very, very strident group that is pulling them away and believes that compromise is a dirty word. That is a prescription for failure.”
They may “seek to brand” this on the Tea Party, but as John Hinderaker at Power Line noted Sunday afternoon, there’s no way that is going to sell.
What is most ludicrous is the Democrats’ effort to distract attention from the fact that they controlled Congress from January 2007 until January 2011. The first Congress that had any ability to be influenced by the Tea Party movement has been in office for only six months. Do the Democrats seriously expect anyone to believe that S&P’s downgrade of U.S. debt arises out of something that Republican Congressmen have done in the last six months? We expect the Democrats to appeal to ignorance at all times, but this is ridiculous.
Yes, but the tactic will continue. A recent poll by The New York Times shows that this budget/debt-ceiling fight has reduced the public appeal of the Tea Party movement: 40 percent give the Tea Party an “unfavorable” rating. This should come as no surprise, considering the MSM has spent the better part of some three years characterizing Tea Party folks as racists, terrorists, hostage-takers, etc. Somebody get the MSM a “Mission Accomplished” sign they can use for a photo-op!
But has Hinderaker notes in his Power Line post, the 2008 budget deficit was a mere $460 billion. Since then, the Democratic Congress (and, for two years, Obama with full and nearly filibuster-proof majorities on his side) has racked up annual deficits of $1.4 trillion in 2009, $1.3 trillion in 2010, and $1.6 trillion in 2011.
So, of our current $14.5 trillion national debt, writes Hinderaker, “nearly $4.8 trillion–one-third of the total–was incurred during that four-year period when the Congress was exclusively controlled by the Democrats.” But this is a “Tea Party Downgrade.” Right.
As the credit-rating agencies have said for months before S&P’s dramatic late-Friday downgrade, it came as a result of federal borrowing and spending that is way out of control. And, as it is, the deal the Republicans squeezed out of Obama and the spendthrift Democrats merely reduces a planned $10 trillion increase in federal spending over 10 years by a trillion or so. The “draconian cuts,” in other words, don’t actually decrease real federal spending at all — which is why some Heartland scholars are not too happy with the “deal.”
Regardless, this is the line we’ll hear from the talking heads for a while. Hinderaker, like me, doesn’t think voters are stupid enough to buy it.
It is hard to believe that even the dimmest voters will fall for the idea that the movement that was founded in order to do something about the spending and debt crisis is somehow to blame for that crisis.
We’ll see. More absurd lies have been swallowed by the electorate.