Did the Debt Deal Kill the Tea Party?
Chicago Tribune columnist Clarence Page wonders if the Tea Party peaked during the rancorous debt-ceiling debate.
Has the tea party peaked? Republican lawmakers affiliated with the upstart anti-tax movement scored big in the nerve-racking debt-ceiling debacle, but the victory left enough hard feelings to feed the movement's ultimate defeat.
To quote an old Chicago White Sox slogan from the 1980s, their achievement was a case of "winning ugly."
With the nation's credit rating in the balance, the tea partiers seized the normally routine matter of raising the nation's debt ceiling and held it hostage, gangsta-style: Cut government spending our way, they reasoned, and nobody gets hurt.
In the end, after weeks of partisan fighting, President Barack Obama signed without joy or ceremony a budget bill that avoided a credit default. It cuts $2 trillion in spending over the next decade, yet shaves barely a sliver off of the expected growth in the national debt during that period.
That's largely because the bill doesn't include tax increases, a tea party no-no. Instead the savings come entirely from cuts in programs and benefits. And Friday night, ratings agency Standard & Poor's downgraded the U.S. government's credit rating, saying the compromise deal doesn't sufficiently reduce deficits.
Read Clarence Page's complete column at the Chicago Tribune.