The God of Tea Party Freshmen Serves the Rich, Not the Poor
Every once in a while, you come across a news story that’s more than a story. It’s a revelation.
On Sunday morning, that’s what greeted readers of the Washington Post searching for insight into the Great Debt Showdown. The first two thirds of a piece by David A. Farenthold and Dan Balz is a familiar recitation of the tribulations of Speaker John Boehner as he struggled with defiant new members of the House Republican conference. Nothing earth-shattering there. But then, out jumps a nugget of naked truth that simply takes your breath away. It concerns the god served by Tea Party-backed GOP members who have held the country hostage in a sham debt-ceiling crisis. Keep in mind that the passage below is not a parody:
Not even gentle persuasion could overcome higher powers Thursday. As Boehner was in his meetings, three freshman Republicans from South Carolina were in the House chapel nearby, in quiet discussion and in prayer. Reps. Mick Mulvaney, Tim Scott and Jeff Duncan wanted a stronger provision to guarantee a balanced-budget amendment and knew they would be lobbied furiously in the hours to come.
At one point, Duncan said, Mulvaney picked up a Bible and read a verse from Proverbs 22: “The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.”
“It’s telling me to really be bold, to really fight for structural changes,” Duncan said.
“Mulvaney snapped the Bible closed. And I said, ‘Guys, that’s all I need to see,’ ” Duncan said. “Tim said, ‘Yep.’ And we stood up and walked out.”
These gentlemen would like for us to construe their prayerful moment as spiritual concern for suffering Americans. That’s a tough sell, because the god worshiped by these devout South Carolina congressmen is not Yahweh. It is not the deity served by Jesus, he of throw-the-money-lenders-out-of-the-temple fame.
The god of the Tea Party freshmen is certainly ancient and powerful. He was last employed as one of the chief princes of Hell. And his name is Mammon. On leave from his post in Hell, Mammon is doing a bit of temp work. The avatar of wealth and greed has rolled up his sleeves and taken up residence in the People’s House, where he currently advises GOP freshmen on policies contrived to do his bidding.
Now, if Congressman Mulvaney had not shut his Bible so quickly, he might have come across another interesting passage, this one from the Gospel of Matthew.
No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other; or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You can not serve both God and Mammon.
But there was really no need for the freshmen to read this passage. Mulvaney, Scott and Duncan know who they are really serving. They must understand that the budget cuts they have fought for tooth and nail will take money from the most vulnerable members of our society and fill the coffers of the rich — though you wouldn’t necessarily think they’d invoke the Christian Bible in support of their trickle-up economics.
But Mammon’s power has been known to be irresistible. Those who fall under his spell frequently turn their backs on justice and become the fawning lapdogs of the rich (peruse the Koch-Mulvaney connections here).
Today we learn that the deal currently in the works to avert an historic U.S. default would require Americans rendered jobless by the financial crash caused by Wall Street to suffer even as bankers take in record-breaking profits. Medicare would be placed on the chopping block. Tax loopholes for the wealthy would remain open. The economy would be further weakened. Pain would be inflicted on just about everybody but the privileged and the powerful.
The God of Greed can look upon his work with satisfaction. His troops are delivering. The angels have fled. He knows his kingdom is coming. And Mulvaney, Scott, and Duncan have secured their place in it.