The Big Government Tea Party

Posted by | January 11, 2012 20:49 | Filed under: Top Stories

by Stuart Shapiro

If there is one cause ostensibly associated with the Tea Party, it is limited government.  But a new book by Theda Skocpol and Vanessa Williamson argues that this association mischaracterizes the Tea Party.  From the review by Timothy Noah:

…the Tea Partiers’ anti-­government ideology is tempered by quiet support for Social Security and Medicare. . . This poses a particular problem for a conservative Republican like Rep. Paul Ryan, who favors privatizing Medicare and shifting more of the financial burden onto recipients. But it’s also a problem for anyone seeking to lower the budget deficit, because it’s the “earned” benefits like Social Security and Medicare that are mainly responsible for runaway government spending. On the other hand, although Tea Partiers, who tend to be comfortably middle class but not wealthy, hate paying taxes, they don’t necessarily mind when other people pay taxes; the South Dakota poll had 56 percent of Tea Party supporters favoring a 5 percent increase in income taxes for people who earn more than $1 million a year.

I find it ironic that as Governor Romney closes in on the Republican nomination, the Tea Party tries to figure out how to stop him.  He may perfectly reflect their preferences.  He won’t do anything bold on Social Security or Medicare and hence he won’t really curb government spending.  Nor will he advocate raising taxes.  Sounds like the big government conservative that the Tea Party should love.

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Copyright 2012 Liberaland
By: Stuart Shapiro

Stuart is a professor and the Director of the Public Policy
program at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers
University. He teaches economics and cost-benefit analysis and studies
regulation in the United States at both the federal and state levels.
Prior to coming to Rutgers, Stuart worked for five years at the Office
of Management and Budget in Washington under Presidents Clinton and
George W. Bush.

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