US debt deal: a victory for the Tea Party
Though its members are disinclined to declare victory, the prolonged political tussle over the US debt ceiling was a clear win for the Tea Party.
By Alex Spillius
01 Aug 2011
They would have liked to see greater cuts and a constitutional requirement to balance the budget in the future. They are fundamentalists, so nothing short of total triumph will do.
But make no mistake, they have proved beyond all doubt that the Tea Party calls the shots in the Republican majority in the House of Representatives.
It beat the White House too. Rewind a few months, to when President Barack Obama was forced to tie cutting deficits to any agreement to raise the debt ceiling. Originally he had asked for a clean vote, no strings attached, to up the borrowing limit, a liberty habitually enjoyed by his predecessors.
When negotiations on a deficit-reduction package started, he insisted on including increased revenues, favouring closing tax loopholes and ending various credits for wealthy individuals and corporations. Mr Obama has and will face criticism for playing a bad hand and for yielding too much ground too soon, but it was Republican intransigence that principally wore him down.
Elected on a promise of cutting spending and not raising taxes, the Tea Party freshmen in the House scuppered Speaker John Boehner’s so-called grand bargain with Mr Obama earlier this month, which would have cut much more from the deficit than the plan agreed upon yesterday – $4 trillion compared to $2.4 trillion – but was unpalatable as it included $800 billion in new revenues.