The Tea Parties and Spending
Ross Douthat points out the similarity between the Tea Party protests and the anti-Iraq War protests–in a depressing way:
[I]t’s awfully hard to see the Tea Parties doing much to change that reality in the short run; if anything, they’re far more likely to reconfirm the majority in its opinion that American conservatism is increasingly wacky, echo-chamberish, and out-of-touch.
Still, here we are in the sixth year of the Iraq War, and all those anti-war protests, their excesses and stupidities notwithstanding, look a lot more prescient in hindsight than they did (to me, at least) when they were going on. So if you’re inclined to sneer and giggle at the Tea Parties, keep in mind that just because a group of protesters looks ragged, resentful, and naive, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re wrong to be alarmed
And that’s a good point–increasing government spending is alarming. There’s no question about that. The higher deficits being predicted under an Obama Administration should be a cause for concern. But you can’t argue against higher deficits and for cutting taxes at the same time. Real life doesn’t work that way. You can’t simply wish federal revenue into being.
By the same token, you can’t just go around saying we need to “cut spending.” That’s just mindless handwaving. Let’s put this simply. 80% of the budget falls into five categories: Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid, Defense, Veteran’s Benefits, and Interest on the Debt. EIGHTY PERCENT. So if you don’t tell me what you’re going to be able to feasibly cut in those categories, you are not approaching the problem seriously.
This is especially the case when it comes to defense spending. Let’s face it: you can’t argue for more military spending AND a lower federal budget. If the Glenn Becks and Rush Limbaughs of the world want me to take them seriously on controlling federal spending, they shouldn’t have howled when Bob Gates didn’t increase defense spending this year as much as the rest of the Pentagon wanted him to.