The Spectacle Blog

The Tea Party Budget

By on 11.18.11 | 4:16PM

The Tea Party Debt Commission that took place yesterday and got kicked out of the Senate has released a budget plan. It's not clear to what extent this plan represents the views and preferences of Tea Partiers around the country, since it seems pretty well "astroturfed": Freedomworks facilitated the whole thing. Yet I can't imagine that any given self-described Tea Party member would have many problems with the proposal.

Here's the plan: 

To achieve these goals, our plan, among other things:

  • Repeals ObamaCare in toto.
  • Eliminates four Cabinet agencies - Energy, Education, Commerce, and HUD - and reduces or privatizes many others, including EPA, TSA, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac.
  • Ends farm subsidies, government student loans, and foreign aid to countries that don't support us- luxuries we can no longer afford.
  • Saves Social Security and greatly improves future benefits by shifting ownership and control from government to individuals, through new SMART Accounts.
  • Gives Medicare seniors the right to opt into the Congressional health care plan.
  • Suspends pension contributions and COLAs for Members of Congress, whenever the budget is in deficit.  

And here's what they predict it would accomplish:

(By the way, the low quality of the graphs and tables in the report suggests to me that there might even be less astroturfing than meets the eye.)

What's interesting to me about this report is that it is, relatively speaking, not that radical. Of course it's utterly politically infeasible. There are parts of the plan that are contradictory: it calls for the Fed to lower inflationary pressures, yet elsewhere advocates a new government inflation metric that would result in lower measured inflation. And some of the numbers probably don't match up, or are simply wishful thinking. 

All that said, the budget appears to be a fairly straightforward and plausible set of guidelines. It would gradually reduce federal spending from 24 percent of GDP to 16 percent of GDP, by cutting domestic spending most of all but also applying non-radical reforms to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. It also includes a lot of defense spending cuts: 

The fiscal future envisioned by the Tea Party debt commission would differ starkly from the one we're rapidly approaching, but it's not an unthinkable future by any means. No one part of the plan is simply unworkable, in the way that Occupy Wall Street's demand to cancel all student debt would be. In fact, parts of it, such as the treatment of Medicare, are less drastic than proposals currently being seriously debated on the Hill. Others, such as the defense cuts, violate conservative orthodoxy. Overall, it's an impressive statement of what the Tea Party platform could be. 

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