5 Ways the Tea Party Agenda Screws Tea Party Supporters
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That's why even candidates like Sharron Angle, the GOP/Tea Party contender for Nevada's U.S. Senate seat, can call for the elimination of the Department of Education and still be taken seriously by the Tea Party faithful. And that's why calling the federal jobs bill passed last month a "teacher bailout" was an effective means of summoning Tea Party opposition to the bill that provided $26 billion in aid to cash-strapped states to maintain all manner of services and programs, including money to prevent some 300,000 teacher lay-offs.
For the billionaires of Tea Party Inc., gutting public education is just another way to grab more marbles for themselves by marginalizing unions and shrinking the overall size of government -- not to mention the convenience of having a gullible and uneducated population to snooker down the road. They have little need for an educated workforce in the U.S., since they'll offshore whatever jobs they can.
Yet, according to the New York Times/CBS News poll, 65 percent of Tea Party supporters with children under the age of 18 have those children enrolled in public schools. And although parents of school-age children account for only 20 percent of Tea Party supporters, it's safe to assume that a sizable number of the older people who comprise the bulk of the Tea Party have grandchildren in public schools. The education those children receive will clearly suffer if schools are forced to lay off significant numbers of teachers but, for Tea Partiers, that fact pales beside the prospect of sticking it to the teachers they've been taught to resent. Better to short-change one's own kids than to keep one more teacher employed, despite all the rhetoric about the Tea Party movement being the guardian of the legacy owed to those yet unborn.
5. Opposition to Wall Street Reform and Financial Reform. Perhaps the most confounding aspect of the Tea Party agenda is its opposition to reform of Wall Street and banks. Even as Tea Party leaders and activists rail against the bailouts of U.S. automakers, and the minimal assistance offered homeowners with underwater mortgages, Tea Party leaders and those who follow them voice hostility toward any and all measures that would demand increased accountability from purveyors of financial instruments or the credit-card industry, like those contained in the financial reform bill passed by Congress in July (a bill that liberal critics regard as rather toothless).
In her speech to Tea Party supporters at the RightOnline conference, Michele Bachmann described the recently passed financial reform bill as nothing more than a punitive measure against Wall Street, when the real culprit in the nation's financial woes was the Housing and Community Redevelopment Act passed in 1977. Another particular object of scorn by the Tea Party set is the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection created by the bill.
Financial reforms such as those signed into law by President Barack Obama last month are designed to benefit the middle class, where 50 percent of Tea Party supporters locate themselves, according the the New York Times/CBS poll. The reforms are expected to be especially good for small businesses, whose fortunes Tea Partiers often claim to care most about.
Failure of Logic, Rule of Emotion
So, how do they do it, those unscrupulous billionaires? How do they get everyday Americans to embrace an agenda that runs counter to their own interests? Their mouthpieces -- people like Bachmann and Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck -- couch it all in the language of heroic patriotism, with the Tea Partiers cast as patriots at war with people set to defile the founders' dream of America. Do that, and a billionaire will find himself the general of an army of ground troops ready to do battle in his service, despite his unwillingness to share the spoils of his war on everyday Americans.