The Tee Hee Party. Making Politics Laughable.

If the consequences weren’t so very serious, the nonsensical ramblings of the Tea Party would be great comic theater.  Certainly the Teapublicans have provided us with some of the best political comedy ever.  Witness Saturday Night Live’s repeated skewering of half-governor Sarah Palin.  The commercials for “I’m Not A Witch” Christine O’Donnell and for the chicken-bartering Sharron Angle.  The Google results for Rick Santorum.  Or the snickers whenever Michelle Bachmann exposes her utter lack of knowledge of anything.

But in between all of our belly laughs, we really should be crying.  Because the sad fact is that these lunatics are in control of the US House of Representatives for another year and a half.

These are people who don’t know the difference between a deficit and a debt.  People who believe that the only way to balance a budget is through draconian cuts.  People who believe that those cuts will not create higher unemployment.  People who have deluded themselves into believing that causing our President to fail will not cause harm to our nation!

They believe this because they’re either too rich or too stupid to worry. 

Yes, we truly are witnessing a tragic comedy.  And the most tragic thing of all is that we’re all responsible for electing these people, either through action or apathy. 

A Primer On The National Debt From Reagan’s Economic Advisers.

Teapublicans have elevated Ronald Reagan to God-like status. They have named a Washington D.C. airport after him. They worship at his presidential library. They even want to add his image to Mount Rushmore National Monument.

So why don’t they follow his economic example?

This has never been more puzzling than during the current debt ceiling debate. Under Reagan, Congress was forced to raise the debt ceiling 17 times. But under Obama, Teapublicans refuse to raise the debt limit even once. To save Social Security, Reagan raised the income cap on FICA deductions. But under Obama, Teapublicans want to destroy Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare. Reagan raised capital gains taxes to 28 percent. But under Obama, Teapublicans consider the current rate of 15 percent too high. Under Reagan, the highest income tax rate was 50 percent or more. But under Obama, the highest rate is 35 percent. And under Reagan, tax revenues averaged 18.2 percent of GDP. But under Obama, tax revenues are just 14.9 percent of GDP as reported by the conservative Heritage Foundation.

Indeed, former Reagan Policy Adviser, Bruce Bartlett, recently stated on MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews, “The dirty secret is that Obama’s a moderate conservative.“ Further, he noted that $7 trillion of the national debt is due to George W. Bush’s policies and tax cuts. $2 trillion is due to the Great Recession that President Obama inherited. And only $1.4 trillion of the debt is due to Obama’s policies, including the measures taken to keep our economy from sliding into the abyss.

And speaking about the Teapublican refusal to increase revenues as part of their plan to cut the deficit, the father of “Reaganomics” and former Reagan Budget Director, David Stockman, said, “When I look at the Republican plan, I have to say I think it’s half right on some things, and it’s half-baked on a lot of others… you’re telling the people of America that we can solve this issue – which is very dangerous, the deficit that we’re facing and the debt we’re building up – by not raising taxes on anyone. That, in my judgment, is a big lie.”

Bartlett was even stronger in response to a question about the Teapublican-dominated Congress. “A good chunk of the Republican caucus is either stupid, crazy, ignorant, or craven cowards who are desperately afraid of the Tea Party people. And rightly so,” he said.

Economic Terrorism

Remember when the Teapublicans were running for office last November? They hammered Democrats for not creating jobs fast enough and promised to have a laser-like focus on the economy. Well, I guess you could say they were telling the truth. But who knew they were actually referring to a laser site on an assault weapon aimed at killing the economy entirely?

Since the debt ceiling first became an issue in January, Teapublican antics have already had a disastrous effect. The lingering debate over the debt ceiling has caused many employers to question the outcome. As a result, they have delayed hiring and any new expenditures. In recent days, the stock markets are down dramatically. And new data has shown that the economy grew at a pitiful rate in the first quarter of this year. All of this is the result of uncertainty.

Now imagine what will happen if Teapublicans actually fail to raise the debt ceiling. Or if they succeed in making the draconian cuts they want.

How much will the stock markets crash if the US defaults on its debts? What will be the long term effects if US Treasury bonds are downgraded? What will happen when consumer interest rates skyrocket? What will be the economic effect of failing to make Social Security payments? How many people will die if doctors know they won’t be reimbursed by Medicare?

Truth is, the Teapublicans now controlling our debt ceiling debate may well have a greater negative impact on our nation than Timothy McVeigh, Al Qaeda and the Taliban combined.

An Economic Lesson For Teapublican Nincompoops

Upon discussing the debt crisis with some conservative friends, I realized that few of them know the difference between the national debt, the budget and the deficit. Like Michelle Bachmann and other Teapublicans, they wrongly believe that refusing to increase the debt ceiling will result in cutting spending and reducing taxes.

Faced with such stupidity, it’s difficult to know where to begin. But I’ll start with some definitions:

Budget – The annual spending plan authorized by Congress based on anticipated revenue and anticipated spending needs. (For Teapublicans, a budget is the money that Congress authorizes the President to spend.)

Deficit – The negative difference between actual spending and actual revenue.

Surplus – Thanks to Bush, we haven’t seen one of these since the Clinton era. But just for the sake of conversation, a surplus is the positive difference between actual revenue and actual spending.

National Debt – The accumulation of deficits from our nation’s history. It is money that has already been spent.

Debt Ceiling – This is an arbitrary number established by Congress based on paranoia. Since the 1970s, the debt ceiling has been raised more than 70 times; 17 times by Reagan and 7 times by George W. Bush.

Now here’s where it gets really difficult. Failing to raise the debt ceiling will cut spending. But only because there will not be enough money to pay our bills. It forces the Secretary of Treasury to decide which bills to pay; money that Congress already agreed to spend. Failing to raise the debt ceiling will effectively cause the US to default on its bills. (For Teapublicans like Bachmann, Cantor and Palin, it’s as if you went on a spending spree at Walmart and then decided not to pay your credit card company.)

In effect, failure to raise the debt ceiling turns the US into a bunch of deadbeats. Other nations and individuals will not want to invest in our country. Interest rates will rise dramatically. And world stock markets will crash. Indeed, most experts say default will make the Great Recession of 2008 seem like…well…like a tea party.