Thursday marked the 237th anniversary of the original Boston Tea Party, when American colonists boarded a British ship and dumped more than 300 chests of tea into Boston Harbor to protest a government unrepresentative of the people. As the Republican “old guard” lines up to defend President Barack Obama’s “tax compromise” deal, partisans on both sides of the aisle are decorating the bill with Christmas tree provisions that look suspiciously like discredited earmarks — and taxes on tea.
Like those early revolutionaries, the tea party of today looks on tax deals and big government regulations with the same suspicion.
When analyzing anything proposed by Congress, it’s a useful exercise to examine who is in the “for” and “against” camps. In the case of the recently proposed “tax compromise” deal, such an analysis yields results that are particularly telling, especially for those who believe in the tea party principles of fiscal responsibility. More accurately, with a price tag approaching $1 trillion, this deal should be known as the “Trillion-Dollar Travesty.”
It’s important to remember that this deal was negotiated in private, behind closed doors — but between whom? We’re not exactly sure, but we know Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and Obama were involved. This is the same McConnell who had to be shamed into supporting an earmark ban in the Senate. And this is the same president who has proposed and helped pass much legislation contrary to the expressed will of the American people, leading to the largest deficit in world history, high unemployment and a desperately stagnant economy. A bill spearheaded by this dynamic duo should not provide anyone with confidence that this legislation is good for the people.
So who else supports this deal? The GOP old guard certainly does.
First on this list is Karl Rove, who opposed Ronald Reagan in the 1976 and 1980 campaigns. His advocacy group, Crossroads GPS, announced their first major post-election expenditure Tuesday — a $400,000 radio ad campaign in 12 districts across the country, urging House Democrats to call for a vote on, and support, the tax cut package.
And again we have McConnell, friend of earmarks, who supports the deal and says he appreciates the “determined efforts” of Obama and the Republicans on the compromise. Apparently, Earmark Mitch likes the pork in there, including nearly $5 billion in subsidies for things such as corn-based ethanol, grants for wind and solar power, commuter tax breaks, tax preferences for NASCAR operators and subsidies for Virgin Islands rum. Perhaps McConnell sees this bill as revenge for being forced by the tea party to repudiate earmarks.
Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), of course a stalwart conservative (we say in jest), is a supporter of the deal and said she was “encouraged” by the compromise as well as its extension of unemployment benefits. This alone should sound the alarm bells.
Speaker-designate John Boehner (R-Ohio), in a dismal performance Sunday on “60 Minutes,” was stumping for the deal and trying to say that he’s finding “common ground,” but that it’s not “compromise.” The proposed “common ground” bill (which will reportedly reach almost 2,000 pages) includes a partial reinstatement of the death tax, billions in unfunded deficit spending — and he’s pitching it with a straight face to the American people. He’s not Speaker yet, and he’s already sold us out.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.