Tea Party Not Serious About Entitlement Reform

Deficit crisis will not be solved without reforming entitlement programs.

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Via National Review's David French, here's a New York Times report on a 40,000-member Tea Party "commission" on reducing the federal budget deficit.

[See a collection of political cartoons on the Tea Party.]

Are you ready?

It's another joke:

The most popular idea, supported by 93 percent, was repealing what the site referred to as "Obamacare," the health care overhaul legislation passed in March 2010. After that, the most popular ideas were reducing duplicative purchases of Pentagon supplies (90 percent), eliminating the Department of Education and privatizing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (81 percent each), and reducing discretionary spending to 2008 levels (76 percent).

When it comes to cutting Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, the report said visitors to the site were "more cautious," and "prefer reductions in peripheral elements," like tightening eligibility for Social Security disability payments and reducing subsidies to teaching hospitals.

French asks, in disbelief: "If our own core conservative activists aren't on board with serious entitlement reform, how can we expect politicians to transform the budget?"

[Read: Tea Party Budget Cuts $9 Trillion]

The answer of course is that you can't.

A more pertinent question would by, why are you surprised?

(Follow my serial ranting on this topic here, here, and here.)

At this point, anyone who's serious about budget reform needs to ignore the Tea Party. Just pretend it never existed. It can't help you. Its purported concern for budgetary balance was never more than tangentially connected to fiscal reality.

[See a collection of political cartoons on the budget and deficit.]

$1 trillion ... $14 trillion ... these are Numbers of the Beast. They're symbolic figures that represent, on a cosmic scale, another phase in America's "slouching towards Gomorrah." Since such massive debt is a reflection of sinfulness, it can't possibly have anything to do with programs that benefit the average Tea Partyer.

As I noted recently, the Tea Party was a cultural outburst. You're not going to get much help crunching numbers or poring over line items from a group that has essentially sacralized the budget. The Fall occurred when the 16th Amendment was added to the Constitution. (Or maybe the 17th.) Or when Woodrow Wilson was elected president. Or Franklin Roosevelt.

The rest is commentary.

  • Brad Bannon: Tea Party Chronicles
  • Vote: Has The Tea Party Taken Over the GOP?
  • See a collection of political cartoons on healthcare.