The following facts about the federal budget deficit are, as far as I know, widely accepted:
First. We have a long-term deficit problem that is due to the rising costs of federal entitlements, above all Medicare.Second. Our current deficit is substantially larger than normal, due to several factors:- The economic recession, which decreased the amount of tax revenue the federal government collects;- An increase in government spending, in the form of automatic stabilizers, to mitigate the human toll of the recession;- An increase in government spending, in the form of Keynesian stimulus, to restart the engine of economic growth;- The continued weakness of the economy, which has kept tax revenues down and the cost of automatic stabilizers up.Nowhere on this list do I see anything regarding the Tea Party. So why is this movement now so frequently mentioned as a prime factor in the country’s deficit woes?
The Tea Party is not blameless, but they really shouldn't receive the most blame. Cost points out that the Democrats had healthy majorities in both Houses of Congress for two years and still failed to address the economy or the long term deficit problem. The Tea Party's errors lie in the fact that they earnestly believe that the poor economy is tied to deficit spending and that if we just immediately balance the budget, our economy will improve. This kind of thinking does not pass any freshman macroeconomics course. However, the Tea Party did not squander the past several years with ineffective leadership. That would be the Democrats. If President Obama ends his first term without having improved our country's economic output, then it will only be his fault. And blaming the Tea Party will not serve as an effective red herring.
And by the way, I can only think of a few leaders from each party that have tried to return our focus to the main issue of the day, that being jobs, jobs, jobs. One of them is running for president. Who do you think that might be? David Frum has just written about this individual's leadership here.