Yet the principled resistance of the Tea Party Caucus in the House has put their leader right across the table from Barack Obama to negotiate the final terms of armistice in the debt-ceiling battle of 2011.
Today is July 22. On this day, it was said, either Congress will have voted to raise the debt ceiling, or the markets will have panicked and America will be on the road to default on Aug. 2.
House leaders John Boehner and Eric Cantor are, as of this writing, sitting with Obama negotiating terms. And yesterday, the stock market surged in anticipation they were close to an agreement. If Boehner and Cantor are dealing from strength, it is thanks to the Tea Party's rejection of previous deals.
The caucus held Boehner's feet to the fire, and Boehner is the stronger for it.
And so, today, it is Democrats who are in rebellion. For Obama has reportedly signed on to specific and real reductions, $3 trillion worth, that include cuts in future costs of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
America's hirsute welfare state may be about to get a haircut.
"Who dares, wins," is the motto of the Special Air Service, the Brits' answer to America's Navy SEALs. While no final deal has been cut, House Republicans have made significant gains.
They passed "Cut, Cap and Balance," a Tea Party plan to cut federal spending to 20 percent of gross domestic product, cap federal programs and secure a vote on a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution.
Second, Obama has offered to put budget cuts upfront to get a debt-ceiling increase. This would be insurance against what happened to Ronald Reagan, where tax hikes agreed to were enacted and the budget cuts lost somewhere along the trail.
Third, the president has apparently agreed to tax reform, whereby a host of deductions, exemptions and tax credits would be discarded from the code by the GOP in return for tax rate reductions for businesses and individuals.
This is Reaganism.
Indeed, this writer was with Reagan at the Tokyo Economic Summit of 1986 when word came that Sen. Bob Packwood and the finance committee were about to agree to cut the top tax rate to 28 percent, in return for eliminating tax deductions and tax breaks for business and individuals. The reaction of Air Force One, without seeing the precise terms of the deal, was, "Go for it!"
Obama's proposal appears to contain a non-performance clause, however. If no deal on tax reform is reached, at the end of 2012, the Bush tax cuts will not be extended for high-end earners. That would be a defeat for the Tea Party, the GOP and the country.
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