The Tea Party has had one major legislative achievement: the sequester. By 2011, the movement was able to exert enough pressure on Republicans to ensure spending cuts would be a part of the budget deal.
I agree. A second shutdown would be a terrible strategy.
But ditching the sequester? Now Republicans have no real leverage to cut spending or shrink government.
For as long as Republicans have been promising to cut spending, those cuts have never come. In 2011, thanks to the Tea Party and the sequester, Republicans’ small government rhetoric finally got real.
The entire episode of the Budget Control Act, from 2011 to this week, should make clear to everyone that the only way Congress is ever going to cut spending is to put a gun to their head. The sequester was supposed to force Congress to decide to cut in a more responsible manner in a year’s time. Of course, they never did. They can’t cut, or won’t and never will. They’ve proven this time and again.
The sequester was the needed gun, the looming threat, the one guarantee there would be cuts. Now it’s gone. Supporters of the Ryan-Murray budget deal promise that cuts will come over a decade. Anyone who’s observed Washington for longer than a minute knows those future spending cuts are about as likely to happen as defunding Obamacare was. Paul Ryan asks conservatives to trust Congress to make cuts in 2016 as he discards cuts from 2011.
The existence of Santa Clause is more plausible.
But if spending reductions do materialize in future budget deals in the only way they ever really can — by making cuts the law of the land as the sequester did — it will be most likely due to the efforts of the Tea Party movement. Democrats will never reduce spending because their governing philosophy is inextricably bound to infinite spending. Without Tea Party Republicans that leaves any hope for real cuts in the hands of John Boehner and his friends. Yes, I’m laughing too.
It is true that the unpopularity of the Tea Party-inspired government shutdown is what helped give the establishment of both parties the political leverage to jettison sequestration. But we must also recognized that there never would’ve been a sequester in the first place, or any hope of cutting today, tomorrow or in the future, if not for the outside pressure coming from a movement such as the Tea Party. The value of forcing Republicans to finally live up to their limited government rhetoric cannot be underestimated and that credit goes entirely to the dynamic grassroots movement.