Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Tea Party Are Faces of GOP Overreach

Wisconsin standoff, spending cut obsession are signs the GOP has overstepped its mandate.


In other words, the Republicans' spending cuts legislation is the very definition of, to borrow their phrase, a job-killing bill. And the Tea Party gang doesn't think it goes far enough. Is the GOP really willing to sacrifice economic growth at the altar of their cutting obsession? Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, the George W. Bush budget director-turned-spending hawk, was asked on NPR whether budget cuts are worth it if they cost a lot of jobs. "The answer is yes," he said.

This view bespeaks the kind of market fundamentalism the Tea Party GOP has embraced. It involves a blind faith in the free market: cut taxes, gut regulations, cut spending, gut labor unions. The market is always right. And if that means the loss of a few hundred thousand jobs, then, in the instantly immortal words of House Speaker John Boehner, "So be it."

But the GOP has gotten so lost in its own philosophy that they have made the mistake of believing their own rhetoric about the United States being ideologically conservative. It is surely true that the electorate prefers a government that is in some senses limited; but so too do they want the free market limited, its rough edges softened. [See editorial cartoons about the GOP.]

It may be, in Governor Walker's words, their moment. But overreaching conservatives will learn that the more tightly they embrace it, the more quickly it will pass. In self-consciously trying to change history, they will become it.

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