As I sat watching my daily dose of evening political commentary, I had an epiphany. I began thinking about the impending economic collapse that is sure to result from the United States failing to raise its debt ceiling, thereby defaulting on its debt. I then focused on the words of Michele Bachmann, the budding darling of the fringe right, the Tea Party. She spoke at length, despite having previously stated she was well read in the subject of economics, that essentially nothing bad would happen if the United States didn’t raise its debt ceiling. She and the Tea Party faithful believe wholeheartedly that no economic ramifications will result from the most powerful nation in the world going into default on its debt. They believe that not raising the debt ceiling will force the federal government to “live within its means” which, according to them, somehow will create jobs.
This led me to think about the Tea Party at length. I thought to myself, how could this relatively small, nonsensical fringe control the whole of the Republican Party to such an extent that every Republican in Washington dares not venture from the ideological path that the Tea Party has laid out. This is when an unusual thought crept into my mind; the Republican career politicians in Washington are willing to commit political suicide in fear of a Tea Party reprisal? Something didn’t seem right. Could Boehner, McConnell, and every other Republican be that foolish?
Then it hit me like a freight train, does the Tea Party really control the Republican Party? How could a small, middle class, uninformed, and highly ideological fringe control the whole of the Republican Party? The answer is, they couldn’t. However, there is small group within the Republican base that could instill the fear of God in Washington’s Republicans. The answer has been staring us in the eye all along, it’s the rich.
It’s fairly straightforward, the relatively small band of discouraged middle class white Americans that constitute the Tea Party don’t possess what it really takes to influence and control a politician, money and power. The richest Americans on the other hand, possess a majority of the wealth in our nation and as the drivers of America’s corporations, they wield incredible power. We’ve falsely attributed the authorship of the current Republican agenda to the Tea Party, as we’ve been distracted by their loud anti-government antics. We’ve seen the Republicans try to appease the Tea Party’s ideology by attempting to push their social agenda through, primarily anti-abortion legislation. However, we have seen the Republicans cave on “conservative” social issues time and time again. Yet, there is one thing that Republicans have not yet waivered on, the issue of increasing taxes.
The Republicans have fiercely opposed any tax increase. They defeated a Democratic led effort to end tax subsidies to the oil companies. They fiercely oppose any tax increases on the wealthiest Americans and largest corporations. They fiercely oppose even ending tax loopholes that exist within the current tax structure. Senate Minority leader, Mitch McConnell, has stated that any increase in revenue is “off the table”. House Majority Leader, Eric Cantor, walked out on budget talks in protest of tax increases being mentioned in the discussion.
The question becomes, why are Republicans so fond of the idea of unadulterated capitalism, and lowering tax rates for the wealthy? Because politicians are beholden to the election process, and when it comes to elections, those who have the most in their campaign coffers prevail. The idea that Republicans are fearful of a small middle class minority within their own constituency like the Tea Party is merely a convenient method of disguising their true agenda, their devoted service to the men and women who fund the PACs that flood their re-election campaigns with donations. It’s better politically, to look like you’re controlled by a radical and entrenched fringe minority like the Tea Party rather than by an even smaller minority composed solely of the richest Americans and special interest lobbyists. The Tea Party and their anti-government fervor have unwittingly provided the supremely wealthy with a figurehead in the quest to loosen the federal government’s hold over the private sector’s pocketbooks.
Everyone gets lost in the theatrics and extravagance of the Tea Party and its affiliated talking heads. Their gaffes and sound bites have distracted everyone. The Tea Party believes their own nonsensical rhetoric on social and fiscal issues, but they don’t realize that they are nothing more than the political patsies for their rich puppet masters. However, Tea Partiers are perfectly willing to push the United States economy into collapse by not raising the debt ceiling; this is where the Tea Party’s position as the wealthiest Americans’ political figureheads loses its viability.
The ferocity of the Tea Party in their advocacy of lower tax rates across the board, served a purpose for the Republicans and their wealthy overlords. It was good for business to let the Tea Party have the freedom to publicly bludgeon Washington into cutting taxes and pursuing efforts to deregulate big business. Yet, the rich very well realize that the economic collapse that will result from the United States defaulting on its debts will be disastrous for business and their finances. If the U.S. defaults on its debt, the resultant economic shock will undoubtedly cause a sharp drop in the stock market, a drop in investment, and a drop in consumption. All of this leads to significant decreases in the net-worth of the wealthiest Americans, far exceeding the potential benefits of lower tax rates.
Right now, playing chicken with the debt ceiling is still within the wealthiest Americans’ parameters for a calculated risk. It’s still a profitable strategy for the wealthiest Americans and largest corporations to use the Republicans in Congress, and by extension, to use the Tea Party as a battering ram to obtain lower tax rates. There’s still a month left for the President and the Democrats to fold and make a deal that cuts taxes in exchange for a Republican agreement to raise the debt ceiling. However, when the United States economy comes dangerously close to default and collapse, the wealthiest Americans will hedge their bets, fold their hand and call upon their Republican serfs in Congress to cut a deal.
Does anyone really think that the Koch brothers or the prominent shareholders of ExxonMobil will accept losing vast sums of wealth in exchange comparatively small tax cuts and the passage of the inherently unconstitutional social agenda of the Tea Party? The Tea Party is merely an unwitting battering ram, whose control over Washington is minimal compared to that of the wealthiest Americans and the corporations. When push comes to shove, and hundreds of billions of dollars are on the line, the will of the wealthy will carry the day, and the Tea Party will be brushed aside. They’ll exit the national stage not with a bang, but with barely a whimper. Tea Party champions like Sarah Palin who hail capitalism, will find that in our capitalist society, they’re merely the expendable employees of Roger Ailes, Rupert Murdoch, Fox News, and the Koch brothers. When they have served their purpose and their antics have become too costly, they’ll simply be replaced by a new breed of disgruntled right-wingers.
-Uncle Festus, 7-05-2011