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As the Tea Party celebrates its fifth anniversary, we decided to look at five of the myths that Tea Party supporters, and many pundits, continue to believe about the far-right movement.

Myth #1: Tea Party Cares About Economic Stewardship

If Tea Party activists believe they are on a crusade to save the American economy, they have an odd way of showing it. The Tea Party was responsible for an economically harmful and utterly pointless government shutdown and has several times threatened economic catastrophe byrefusing to raise the debt limit — with their hostage-taking strategycontributing to a S&P credit downgrade and lower consumer confidence.

The Treasury Department warned in the midst of last year’s government shutdown [PDF]: “A default would be unprecedented and has the potential to be catastrophic: credit markets could freeze, the value of the dollar could plummet, U.S. interest rates could skyrocket, the negative spillovers could reverberate around the world, and there might be a financial crisis and recession that could echo the events of 2008 or worse…. Because the debt ceiling impasse contributed to the financial market disruptions, reduced confidence and increased uncertainty, the economic expansion was no doubt weaker than it otherwise would have been.”

One problem might be that Tea Party leaders seem to have no clue what they are talking about.

Tea Party politicians dismissed concerns about failing to raise the debt limit — with one Tea Party-aligned congressman arguing that such a move would help the economy — and didn’t seem to grasp the fact that “raising the debt ceiling simply lets Treasury borrow the money it needs to pay all U.S. bills and other legal obligations in full and on time” and isn’t a “license to spend more.”

Similarly, a Bloomberg News poll found that 93 percent of Tea Party Republicans believe the federal budget deficit is growing, even while it israpidly shrinking.

Myth #2: Tea Party Wants Entitlement Cuts

We keep hearing about how the Tea Party will lead a push to cut entitlement programs, but Tea Party members are disproportionately entitlement program benefactors. A New York Times/CBS poll found that Tea Party members are more likely than others to claim that they or a family member receives Social Security benefits or is covered by Medicaid, and 62 percent believe “the benefits from government programs such as Social Security and Medicare [are] worth the costs of those programs.”

According to a McClatchy-Marist poll, 76 percent of Tea Party supporters oppose Social Security and Medicare cuts while 70 percent said they were against cuts to Medicaid.

Of course, many Tea Party supporters don’t seem to mind public programs when they are the ones benefiting from them, and Republicans continue to criticize reductions in future Medicare spending that they voted for.

“[W]hat many of the Tea Party candidates have found is that when push comes to shove, their backers want to protect their entitlements as much as the next guy,” writes Shikha Dalmia of the Reason Foundation. “In fact, much of the fury of the Tea Partiers against government stimulus and bailouts might have less to do with any principled belief in the limits of government and more to do with fear of what this will do to their own entitlements.”

Myth #3: Tea Party Faces Government Persecution

The Tea Party has desperately clutched onto a conspiracy theory that the IRS specifically targeted Tea Party groups to help seal President Obama’s re-election. Of course, it turns out that the IRS actually scrutinized liberal and conservative groups alike. The faux-scandal was hyped and distorted by congressional Republicans, and Tea Party leaders predicted that it would rejuvenate the movement.

As Alex Seitz-Wald reported: “We know that in fact the IRS targeted lots of different kinds of groups, not just conservative ones; that the only organizations whose tax-exempt statuses were actually denied were progressive ones; that many of the targeted conservative groups legitimatelycrossed the line; that the IG’s report was limited to only Tea Party groups at congressional Republicans’ request; and that the White House was in no way involved in the targeting and didn’t even know about it until shortly before the public did. In short, the entire scandal narrative was a fiction.”

Rather than face facts, leaders are out with a fresh and similarly dubious conspiracy that proposed IRS rules on political activity by certain nonprofits will target conservative organizations for discrimination.

Myth #4: Tea Party Ignores Social Issues

Many Tea Party leaders — including Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Louie Gohmert, Michele Bachmann, Mike Lee, Jim DeMint and Glenn Beck — are also favorites of the Religious Right. The GOP victories in the 2010 midterm electionbrought about what the Daily Beast called “one of the most religiously conservative [House of Representatives] in recent history” and Republican politicians in Congress and state legislatures immediately pursued a crackdown on abortion rights.

Glenn Beck’s massive 2010 Tea Party rally on the National Mall turned into a religious revival meeting. Last year, even the openly gay founder of the National Capital Tea Party Patriots addressed an anti-gay marriage rally in front of the Supreme Court. And far-right pastor Rick Scarborough decided to establish his own group, Tea Party Unity, to promote his call for a “class action lawsuit” against homosexuality.

Pew found that just as “the Tea Party is much more Republican and conservative than the public as a whole… Tea Party supporters also tend to take socially conservative positions on abortion and same-sex marriage.” Tea Party activists oppose marriage equality and abortion rights at rates nearly identical to Republicans at large, and are just as likely to cite religion as the driving force on their stances on such issues.

A 2013 American Values survey observed that the majority of Tea Party activists “identify with the Christian Right,” and a study by political scientists Robert Putnam and David Campbell found Tea Party members to be “disproportionately social conservatives” with a penchant for the “overt use of religious language and imagery.” “It thus makes sense that the Tea Party ranks alongside the Christian Right in unpopularity,” they added.

Myth #5: Tea Party Has Wide Popularity

Tea Party politicians like to fashion themselves as champions of a broadly popular movement that has supporters across partisan lines. Bachmann thinks the Tea Party represents “virtually 90 percent of America ” and a poll of Tea Party supporters found that 84 percent agree that “the views of the people involved in the Tea Party movement generally reflect the views of most Americans.” Beck even believes that most Americans are in the Tea Party and to the right of the GOP.

But while the Tea Party is far from dead, a majority of Americans have an unfavorable view of the right-wing movement.

In December, Gallup found that the Tea Party has never held widespread support.

The Tea Party has been deceiving America for 5+ years now. 

h/t: Brian Tashman at RWW


The crucial point about this outcome,… is that it will be the direct result of the decision by Dems — in the last two debt limit fights — to refuse to negotiate with Republicans.

Greg Sargent

The end of days for the Tea Party influence:

“The era of economic hostage taking and ransom demands should finally be behind us,” Senator Patty Murray told me today. “House GOP leaders have finally bowed to the reality that they need to put uncertainty and drama behind them and put the economy ahead of their party’s political tactics.” Also, as Jonathan Bernstein notes, this reflects a GOP recognition that the Tea Party must be marginalized, not placated.

h/t: Sahil Kapur at TPM

Despite agreeing to a budget this month, it seems Congressional Republicans are not yet done holding the economic fate of the country hostage in order to pass aspects of its agenda. In an appearance on Fox News Sunday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told host Chris Wallace that it would be “irresponsible” for Republicans not to try to add amendments to a bill raising the debt ceiling, which they may need to pass as early late February. Failure to pass a debt ceiling increase would be catastrophic for the economy, forcing the country to default on its obligations:

WALLACE: So are you saying right here, “We are going to attach something to the debt ceiling”? And if so, what?

MCCONNELL: What I’m saying is we ought to attach something significant for the country to [President Obama’s] request to increase the debt ceiling. That’s been the pattern for 50 years, going back to the Eisenhower administration. I think it’s the responsible thing to do for the country. […]

We’re never going to default — the Speaker and I have made that clear. We’ve never done that. But, it’s irresponsible not to use the discussion — the request of the President to raise the debt ceiling — to try to accomplish something for the country.

Asked for a “good example” of what Republicans could demand in exchange for raising the debt ceiling, McConnell cited the Keystone XL pipeline because it would “create jobs.” In truth, though the project would create nearly 4,000 temporary construction jobs, it would ultimately only create 35 permanent jobs, resulting in “negligible socioeconomic impacts.”Upgrading existing pipelines instead would both create more jobs and help protect the country’s drinking water supply from contamination from leaks.

Since 2011 — motivated in part by the growing influence of the Tea Party — Republicans have viewed the debt ceiling as what McConnell called “a hostage worth ransoming.” It was because of that very brinkmanship that Standard & Poor’s lowered the country’s credit rating, which cost taxpayers $19 billion and lost the country over a million jobs.

h/t: Zack Ford at Think Progress Economy

h/t: Josh Israel at Think Progress

BREAKING: The House has passed 285-144-3 to avert the #DebtCeiling and end the #GOPShutdown. President Obama will sign the bill ASAP.

— Justin Gibson (@JGibsonDem)

October 17, 2013

All 144 nays came from the GOP. 

See Also: Earlier this evening, Senate passes 81-18-1 


One down, one to go: Senate passes bipartisan debt deal

(Photo: Reuters)

Hours before the nation was set to default, the Senate passed a bill to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling. The House will vote on it tonight.

Continue reading

The GOP-caused Shutdown may be getting one step closer to being over. 


Here’s what’s in the Senate deal that will go before both the House and Senate today:

  • Government funded through January 15 at sequestration levels
  • Debt limit extended until February 7
  • A budget conference established to come up with long-term spending plans by December 13
  • Income verification for recipients of subsidies under Obamacare’s newly-established exchanges
  • Backpay for furloughed workers
  • A provision that requires a proactive vote to disapprove extending the debt limit, as opposed to having regular votes to raise it

That last measure is a big one: Known as the McConnell Rule, it takes the debt limit off the table as a bargaining chip on the February 7th deadline, meaning we won’t be putting the country’s full faith and credit at risk by taking ourselves to the brink of default then. The only way the debt limit would not be increased under the McConnell rule would be if Congress decides to actively prevent it, and has the two-thirds majority needed to overcome a Presidential veto.

Also, notably, here are some of the demands that Republicans have made in the last few days, but that are NOT in the bill:

  • No repeal of the “extraordinary measures” provision that allows the Treasury to do accounting tricks to avoid default
  • No ‘Vitter Amendment‘ that would have taken away employer contributions from the health plans of Congressional staff
  • No provisions related to birth control access
  • No flexibility in how government agencies make budget cuts to their programs, as they are required to under sequestration
  • No repeal or delay of the medical device tax
  • No repeal or delay of the reinsurance tax
  • No repeal, replacement, or delay of any aspects of Obamacare’s exchanges or individual mandate

It might look like this is overall a good deal for Democrats given the number of things that Republicans aren’t getting. It is good: It reopens the government and lifts the debt ceiling without doing any major additional damage to existing programs.

But it’s important to remember that the baseline for negotiations wasn’t exactly even: Democrats accepted the major budget cuts of sequestration (slated only to get worse on January 15, the same day their budget deal expires), and their only demand was actually the status quo: Keeping the government running and having the country fulfill its financial obligations. They didn’t request to restore the funding sequestration took away, they didn’t demand any new programs or initiatives that Democrats support. And if the previous budget conference is any indication, the one established under this deal has the potential to blow up in Democrats’ faces, leading to more cuts instead of an actual, long-term budget. In that sense, while it is the best, cleanest deal we can get, the Democratic party has been pulled slightly from center to right, not from left to center.

Meanwhile, Republicans threw everything but the kitchen sink into their negotiations. It’s no surprise they’re taking a lot of losses.


Democrats have seized on video of Rep. Chris Van Hollen angrily confronting Republicans on the House floor over changes to the chamber’s rules as proof Republicans purposefully pushed the nation into a government shutdown and crisis over extending the nation’s debt limit.

The Republicans’ decision to alter an obscure procedural rule has enraged Democrats and given them evidence that Republicans have purposefully throw the government into chaos with a shutdown.

Normally, any member of the House can force a vote on legislation which the Senate and House are unable to agree on. Although it is a rarely used mechanism, House Republicans were taking no chances in the days leading up to the shutdown.

Republican leaders were nervous about the possibility that the Senate’s clean spending extension bill would pass the chamber on the strength of Democratic votes — or worse, that it would fail, taking it off the table permanently as a solution.

That concern appears to have driven the decision to change the rules to allow only Majority Leader Eric Cantor to force a vote on the Senate plan.

The House routinely alters its rules for considering legislation. The majority’s control of the Rules Committee makes it possible for them to limit the number and type of amendments that can be considered, the length of debate, and virtually all the other contours of a floor debate.

But the changes to the rules used to block Democrats from forcing a vote on the Senate’s spending plan is not the type of change that is routinely made, and is yet another sign of the Republican leadership’s tenuous control of the chamber.

This Video Of Republicans Tightening Control Of House Is As Unusual As It Seems


(Read the full article by Jed Lewison at Daily Kos)

Failure to raise the debt ceiling would cause the United States to default on its bills, a situation “dramatically worse” than the current government shutdown, President Barack Obama warned Tuesday.

But he also sought to assure jittery markets and nervous countries that the US would honor its debts despite the looming deadline for Congress to raise the borrowing cap and avoid a cash crunch.

“As soon as Congress votes to reopen the government, it’s also got to vote to meet our country’s commitments, pay our bills, raise the debt ceiling,” Obama told a press conference.

“As reckless as a government shutdown is, the economic shutdown caused by America defaulting would be dramatically worse,” he added.

Obama criticized rival Republican Party lawmakers for setting unrelated conditions before they would agree to pass a new budget and raise the debt ceiling.

Members of Congress “don’t get to demand ransom in exchange for doing their jobs,” he said.

The shutdown of non-essential federal government services was in its eighth day Tuesday, with hundreds of thousands of workers furloughed, or sent home without pay, after Congress failed to pass a budget for the 2014 fiscal year that began October 1.

Meanwhile the $16.7 trillion US borrowing ceiling needs to be raised by October 17, when the Treasury says it will run out of cash and lack the funds necessary to fund a chronic deficit of about $60 billion a month.

But Republican House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner has warned that he will not allow Congress to raise the ceiling unless Obama offers concessions on his signature reform law that expanded health-care coverage. 

h/t: The Raw Story


Speaker of The House John Boehner Refuses To Allow Clean Continuing Resolution Vote On Ending Government Shutdown, Insists On Sending Nation Towards Path Of Defaulting On Its Debts

Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) insisted Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” that he won’t bring up a “clean” debt limit increase under any circumstances, warning that the U.S. will default on its debt unless President Barack Obama agrees to make policy concessions.

"We’re not going to pass a clean debt limit increase," he said. "I told the president, there’s no way we’re going to pass one. The votes are not in the House to pass a clean debt limit. And the president is risking default by not having a conversation with us."

Obama has repeatedly vowed not to negotiate on whether the country is able to keep paying its bills. Boehner’s speakership is at risk if he defies conservatives and allows the borrowing limit to be raised cleanly. The deadline is Oct. 17 and Boehner said the U.S. is currently on a path to default.

"That’s the path we’re on," he said. "The president canceled his trip to Asia. I assumed — well, maybe he wants to have a conversation. I decided to stay here in Washington this weekend. He knows what my phone number is.  All he has to do is call."

According to leaks by House Republicans last week, Boehner has told colleagues privately he won’t permit default and will raise the debt ceiling with Democratic votes if need be.

Pressed again and again by host George Stephanopoulos about whether he’d prefer default to bringing up a clean debt limit bill, Boehner didn’t flinch.

"I don’t want the United States to default on its debt," he said. "But I’m not going to raise the debt limit without a serious conversation about dealing with problems that are driving the debt up.  It would be irresponsible of me to do this."

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) raised the idea of taking the country into default if Republicans don’t get more spending cuts during a press conference on Friday.

On October 17, the nation hits its credit limit, and must extend the so-called “debt limit” in order to pay outstanding bills that the United States owes. If the debt ceiling isn’t raised, it would be calamitous for the nation’s economy.

It’s long been suspected that House Republicans would wrap the debt ceiling into the shutdown fight, but on Friday, Boehner made it official.

“I don’t believe that we should default on our debt,” Boehner said. “It’s not good for our country. But after 55 years of spending more than what you bring in, something ought to be addressed.”

“I think the American people expect if we’re going to raise the amount of money we can borrow,” he went on, “we ought to do something about our spending problem and the lack of economic growth in our country.”

Boehner has previously pledged not to use the debt limit as political leverage. And while he may insist on spending cuts, the funding bill that Republicans are currently blocking actually includes the massive across-the-board spending cuts known as sequestration.

On Thursday, the Treasury Department released a report warning that hitting the debt ceiling would create “a recession more severe than any seen since the Great Depression.” Since the nation would default on its debt, it could affect the economic growth and borrowing power of the country for decades to come.

Still House Republicans have written off the effects of surpassing the debt limit, believing — against the advice of experts — that the nation would be able to prioritize payments and avoid pure default.

h/t: Annie-Rose Strasser