With the spontaneous rise of the Tea Party in 2009, the recently dead conservative movement was resuscitated back to life and given another chance to fight for limited government. In primary after primary, constitutionally-minded candidates toppled the establishment’s picks by running on the conservative principles that many in Washington had long since abandoned.
And in the midterm elections, this new wave of liberty defenders crushed the liberal statists at the polls – gaining 63 seats in the House and 6 seats in the Senate.
But the euphoria among the grassroots warriors was short-lived. In their first opportunity to validate their newly rediscovered tenet of fiscal responsibility, many weak-willed members of the GOP turned their back on the Tea Party and submitted to the Washington logic of perpetually massive spending and deficits.
They failed to follow the footsteps of the great conservative champions like Barry Goldwater and Robert Taft – men who were willing to fight on principle to the bitter end. Instead, they capitulated to business-as-usual model in our nation’s capital. The result was that disillusioned Tea Partiers saw $100 billion in promised cuts for FY 2011 get pro-rated to $61 Billion, and then dwindle further to $36 billion after more negotiations.
When the accounting gimmicks and budgetary tricks were sorted through, the final spending cut in the CR equated to a little more than one day in deficit spending.
Many conservative were outraged but still held out hope that the GOP could score a major victory in the debt ceiling negotiations.
Unfortunately, the latest showdown looks like a repeat of the Spring debacle.
After pursuing the substantive “Cut, Cap, and Balance” plan, Boehner is switching gears and showing his true colors by sponsoring a plan that is an embarrassment to the conservative cause.
The Speaker initially claimed that his bill would cut more than a trillion dollars in spending in exchange for raising the debt ceiling by $900 billion.
But the CBO scored the bill and found it would cut closer to $850 billion (only about $1 billion of which would be immediate cuts) – forcing Boehner to reconvene with his staff and return with version 2.0.
The newly released plan increases estimated cuts to $917 billion over the next 10 years but again back-loaded most of the spending in later years. Only a fraction of the cuts are up front with $22 billion occurring in FY 2012 and $42 billion to follow in FY 2013. Since Congress votes on the federal budget on a yearly basis, there is no guarantee that any of these cuts will materialize. In fact, it is likely that they won’t.