Harnessing The Tea Party

Support for the Tea Party is at record levels but that movement does not have a coherent policy platform. Can the energy be harnessed to good use?

Taegan Goddard points to a new WSJ/NBC poll which shows that “71% of Republicans described themselves as tea-party supporters, saying they had a favorable image of the movement or hoped tea- party candidates would do well in the Nov. 2 elections.”

“These are essentially conservative Republicans who are very ticked-off people,” said Republican pollster Bill McInturff[*], who conducted the survey with Democratic pollster Peter Hart.  If the Republicans win control of the House or Senate this fall, Mr. McInturff added, the survey shows “enormous amounts about how limited the interest is going to be in those new majorities to try to seek negotiation with the president or the Democratic leadership.”

The poll found that tea-party supporters make up one-third of the voters most likely to cast ballots in November’s midterm elections. This showed the movement “isn’t a small little segment, but it is a huge part of what’s driving 2010,” Mr. Hart said.

My heart sank when I saw that 71% topline but my sense is that Bill’s explanation is the right one.   There isn’t some overwhelming mass of people eager to be led by Sarah Palin and Christine O’Donnell so much as a lot of people fed up with the system.

Joy McCann forwarded me an essay by Michael Lotus, aka Lexington Green, titled “The Insurgency,” which begins,

Mass political movements often begin with a single, striking event. The Insurgency began in the fall of 2008, when President Bush, Senator Obama, and Senator McCain appeared together to endorse the TARP bailout.  At that moment the lights came on for many Americans. It was glaringly obvious that both political parties jointly operated the system, and the system existed to protect the well connected at the expense of everyone else. The public opposed the TARP bailouts; the banks got their money anyway. The Insurgency, long brewing, began.

The Insurgency is a movement of citizens directed against unsustainable government taxation and regulation, and spending, both of which benefit insiders rather than ordinary people. The target of the Insurgency is a leviathan in Washington, D.C. that will ruin us all if it is not dismantled.

Now, I don’t like the description of this as an insurgency.  While I’m as frustrated as the next guy with our political system — and fundamentally agree that the degree of choice currently offered by our two party system is poor — we have a representative democracy and any implication that violence is an acceptable tool for changing the system is deplorable.

Moreover, as many regular readers are doubtless tired of hearing, I’m not a fan of the leadership and tactics that have characterized much of the Tea Party movement thus far.   It’s anger and populist rhetoric without much useful policy focus.   Being against everything without real alternative proposals is nihilism.

But it should be possible to harness the broad sentiment against the way we’re currently doing things into something focused and useful.   Thomas Friedman, of all people, thinks it can happen.   He agrees with me that, “Based on all I’ve heard from this movement, it feels to me like it’s all steam and no engine. It has no plan to restore America to greatness.”  He thus terms it the Tea Kettle movement.

The issues that upset the Tea Kettle movement — debt and bloated government — are actually symptoms of our real problem, not causes. They are symptoms of a country in a state of incremental decline and losing its competitive edge, because our politics has become just another form of sports entertainment, our Congress a forum for legalized bribery and our main lawmaking institutions divided by toxic partisanship to the point of paralysis.

The important Tea Party movement, which stretches from centrist Republicans to independents right through to centrist Democrats[**], understands this at a gut level and is looking for a leader with three characteristics. First, a patriot: a leader who is more interested in fighting for his country than his party. Second, a leader who persuades Americans that he or she actually has a plan not just to cut taxes or pump stimulus, but to do something much larger — to make America successful, thriving and respected again. And third, someone with the ability to lead in the face of uncertainty and not simply whine about how tough things are — a leader who believes his job is not to read the polls but to change the polls.

Democratic Pollster Stan Greenberg told me that when he does focus groups today this is what he hears: “People think the country is in trouble and that countries like China have a strategy for success and we don’t. They will follow someone who convinces them that they have a plan to make America great again. That is what they want to hear. It cuts across Republicans and Democrats.”

And he and I broadly agree on the direction this should take:

This is the plan the real Tea Party wants from its president. To implement it would require us to actually raise some taxes — on, say, gasoline — and cut others — like payroll taxes and corporate taxes. It would require us to overhaul our immigration laws so we can better control our borders, let in more knowledge workers and retain those skilled foreigners going to college here. And it would require us to reduce some services — like Social Security — while expanding others, like education and research for a 21st-century economy.

But, alas, the problem with all this is obvious:   Making these choices fractures the “movement.”    While the Left, Center, and Right are broadly united on the problems, they differ widely on the solutions.   I’m highly doubtful, for example, that the people currently showing up at Tea Party rallies would support Friedman’s immigration policy.   And no way in hell the center-left will support raising the regressive tax on gasoline whilst lowering corporate taxes.

His answer, I’d wager, is the same answer that I get on all the NATO reform panels I attend:   Leadership.    Why, if only we had a Winston Churchill or Franklin Roosevelt or Ronald Reagan, they would be able to unite the people on the need to make tough choices. I’d really like to think that’s true.    But I’m afraid that the 24/7/365 media environment — of which I’m part — makes it too easy to demagogue each and every plank of a platform.   And, of course, 40 votes in the Senate can stop anything.

____________

*My wife works for McInturff’s firm.  See Disclosures for details.

**Balloon Juice’s DougJ is incensed by the implication that those on the far Left and Right don’t care about the country.   That’s an unfair reading.   Friedman is a centrist, is constructing his perfect outcome for harnessing the energy of the Tea Party movement, and correctly believes those outside the broad Center would oppose his platform.

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, Tea Party, US Politics,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Count me as one of those people who thinks that success at the ballot box is going to be the beginning of the undoing of the Tea Party coalition.

    Outside of opposition to Obama, there isn’t very much that unites the libertarians/fiscal conservative wing of the movement with the social conservative wing. Once they start fighting over the next step, those fault lines will show themselves.

    Also, the fractures within the GOP and the conservative movement we saw over the Christine O’Donnell/Mike Castle race are going to come back, in spades, in 2012. Especially if a certain former Governor of a certain northernmost state enters the race.




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  2. sam says:

    Early in his campaign, Dr. Paul, the son of the uncompromising libertarian hero Ron Paul, denounced Medicare as “socialized medicine.” But this spring, when confronted with the idea of reducing Medicare payments to doctors like himself — half of his patients are on Medicare — he balked. This candidate, a man ostensibly so against government power in all its forms that he wants to gut the Americans With Disabilities Act and abolish the departments of Education and Energy, was unwilling to reduce his own government compensation, for a very logical reason. “Physicians,” he said, “should be allowed to make a comfortable living.”

    Those of us who might have expected Paul’s purist followers to abandon him in droves have been disappointed; Paul is now the clear favorite to win in November. Ha, ha, you thought we actually gave a shit about spending, joke’s on you. That’s because the Tea Party doesn’t really care about issues — it’s about something deep down and psychological, something that can’t be answered by political compromise or fundamental changes in policy. At root, the Tea Party is nothing more than a them-versus-us thing. They know who they are, and they know who we are (“radical leftists” is the term they prefer), and they’re coming for us on Election Day, no matter what we do — and, it would seem, no matter what their own leaders like Rand Paul do.

    In the Tea Party narrative, victory at the polls means a new American revolution, one that will “take our country back” from everyone they disapprove of. But what they don’t realize is, there’s a catch: This is America, and we have an entrenched oligarchical system in place that insulates us all from any meaningful political change. The Tea Party today is being pitched in the media as this great threat to the GOP; in reality, the Tea Party is the GOP. What few elements of the movement aren’t yet under the control of the Republican Party soon will be, and even if a few genuine Tea Party candidates sneak through, it’s only a matter of time before the uprising as a whole gets castrated, just like every grass-roots movement does in this country. Its leaders will be bought off and sucked into the two-party bureaucracy, where its platform will be whittled down until the only things left are those that the GOP’s campaign contributors want anyway: top-bracket tax breaks, free trade and financial deregulation.

    The rest of it — the sweeping cuts to federal spending, the clampdown on bailouts, the rollback of Roe v. Wade — will die on the vine as one Tea Party leader after another gets seduced by the Republican Party and retrained for the revolutionary cause of voting down taxes for Goldman Sachs executives. It’s all on display here in Kentucky, the unofficial capital of the Tea Party movement, where, ha, ha, the joke turns out to be on them: Rand Paul, their hero, is a fake.

    Matt Taibbi, Tea and Crackers, Rolling Stone (http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/17390/210904)




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  3. John Burgess says:

    The Tea Party, as it is today, cannot be harnessed, I think.

    I disagree that anger is the only thing behind it: Frustration and a sense of “If we don’t start fixing things now, just when are we going to start?”

    The membership of the party is too disparate, though, in the particulars that concern its individual participants. I, for example, could get behind a lot of the economic points they’re pushing. I’m far less enamored of socially conservative points, though, no matter how popular they are.

    I’m not interested in making abortion illegal; I’m not interested in ‘bringing Christ back to the classroom’; I’m not interested in pushing Muslims out of the country.

    Those points, certainly, are not universally acclaimed by the Tea Party, but they are, by enough members, that they keep me at arm’s length.

    If I have to take a package of both social and fiscal conservatism, then I’ll probably choose not to choose. If, however, the Tea Party can get its focus on the economic issues–where I think they belong–then yeah, I’m there.




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  4. DMan says:

    I agree with Doug that the Tea Party/Republican coalition will end following the elections, but I think the Tea Party movement in some form is here to stay for a while. While success at the ballot box will lead to mutual abandonment between those they’ve elected and those who have elected them, the Tea Party movement will likely continue undeterred .

    The Tea Party will remain because, if anything, it is unified by only two things, a broad dissatisfaction in the direction of the country, and a dissatisfaction with our government. I don’t see any of this changing anytime soon. So long as the country appears to be heading in the wrong direction to a large percentage of the population, the government, and even those they helped elected, will continue to be blamed.

    Where the Tea Party goes when it no longer supports the Republicans will be interesting to see.




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  5. Tano says:

    “…endorse the TARP bailout. At that moment the lights came on for many Americans. It was glaringly obvious that both political parties jointly operated the system, and the system existed to protect the well connected at the expense of everyone else. ”

    Perhaps this is the problem. If this is the core founding event of “the insurgency” – then irrational incoherence is foundational.
    The TARP bailout will end up costing the Treasury almost nothing, and it prevented a complete meltdown of not only the American, but perhaps the global financial system, with would have led to horrendous consequences for “everyone else”.
    These consequences are what the “Tea Party” people would have bequeathed to us if they had been in control

    There is an idiot wind blowing. There is no point in trying to harness it. No good would come of that. Just hunker down, let it pass, and see what is left in its wake.




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  6. Nightrider says:

    >>>There isn’t some overwhelming mass of people eager to be led by Sarah Palin and Christine O’Donnell so much as a lot of people fed up with the system.<<<<<

    The irony is that the kind of people who jump on these bandwagons are the "system". A big reason our government is so fouled up is the hyperpartisan blame game fueled by masses of people on both sides willing to be capitivated by oversimplified sound bites rather than having the patience or wisdom to expect and demand real bipartisan solutions from their political leaders. Instead of positive reform, we'd probably just get a bunch of crappy useless Congressional hearings that try to make the President look bad on meaningless Lewinskyish and Whitewaterish junk. The reason Nero fiddles while Rome burns is that the voters keep cheering for the music.




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  7. Pete says:

    Tano, I think you are just plain wrong on your assessment of the TARP. Don’t know what your background is to make such a judgment. I don’t care what the officials said about the need for the bailout. I mean Bush was a moron; everybody agrees on that. So why believe that what his admin did to “save the banking system” was any more than a cynical ploy to expand government?




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  8. Tano says:

    “I mean Bush was a moron; everybody agrees on that”

    True. And if no one besides Bush thought that the TARP was necessary, then there is a good chance it would not have been necessary. But the point is that it was not just Bush – it was everyone who knew anything about finance and economics all agreeing that there was a very steep cliff that we were in danger of plunging off of.
    One can see such broad agreement as the manifestation of a grand conspiracy, or one can recognize that maybe there was a very real problem, one so obvious that everyone could see it.




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  9. Pete says:

    Perhaps an anecdote might give you a flavor to consider that the big govt/big business axis was simply spreading fear to divert our attention:
    http://www.americanthinker.com/2010/09/quantitative_short_squeezing.html




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  10. sam says:

    Yeah, well, I think I’ll go with Roubini, who was part of that small cadre of economists who saw the coming financial feces/fan collision:

    Nearly three years since the onset of the financial crisis, the continued weakness of the labor and real estate markets, U.S. consumers’ unbalanced balance sheets and fading support from policy stimulus have transformed the risk of a double-dip recession from unlikely to about a 40 percent likelihood. The government responded creatively and massively to the near collapse of the U.S. financial system: The Troubled Assets Relief Program, stimulus spending and near-zero interest rates for nearly two years prevented a second Great Depression. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/09/16/AR2010091605846.html)

    (And if you want to see his analysis of the feces/fan collision, see, Who is to Blame for the Mortgage Carnage and Coming Financial Disaster? Unregulated Free Market Fundamentalism Zealotry (http://www.roubini.com/roubini-monitor/184125/who_is_to_blame_for_the_mortgage_carnage_and_coming_financial_disaster__
    unregulated_free_market_fundamentalism_zealotry))




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  11. Pete says:
  12. Pete says:

    And this: http://www.independent.org/blog/index.php?p=7870

    Tano, I’ tend to be a contrarian; especially when so many experts proclaim something to be. I spent 15 years on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and observed a few “crises.” I personally know the wizards from Saloman Brothers who basically invented derivatives, who brought down Saloman by their hubris, and who formed and failed LTCM. I learned that what you see in that world is rarely what is. That is the basis for my skepticism. Like I said, I don’t care what all the talking heads say publically because I have seen it before.

    BTW, I even know how Hillary made her 100 grand in cattle futures.




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  13. Brummagem Joe says:

    “My heart sank when I saw that 71% topline but my sense is that Bill’s explanation is the right one. There isn’t some overwhelming mass of people eager to be led by Sarah Palin and Christine O’Donnell so much as a lot of people fed up with the system.”

    Well Jim dear boy your heart should sink because it’s a reasonable reflection of reality despite McInturff’s rationalisations. About 70% of the hardcore base of the Republican party is itching to be led by the likes of Palin and O’Donnell. Ask Bennet, Specter, Crist, Castle, Lazio, Murkowski and many smaller “establishment” fish who have been pushed aside by these folks. And when the pushing aside has happened the leadership can’t wait to jump on board and endorse them. The classic case being turd blossom Rove who immediately after her election was describing O’Donnell as a nut case who was certain to lose the DE seat and within 24 hours (24 hours!!) was proclaiming his everlasting devotion and asserting his previous remarks were intended to be supportive. Of course the overwhelming mass of the “non Republican” people aren’t itching to be led by Palin and co and there’s the rub for the GOP. Your and Doug’s personal problem it seems to me is that you’re emotionally tied to a party that is increasingly being dominated by nut cases. To your credit you recognize they’re nuts but you’re in denial about the domination.




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  14. Brummagem Joe says:

    Pete says:
    Wednesday, September 29, 2010 at 10:18
    “That is the basis for my skepticism. Like I said, I don’t care what all the talking heads say publically because I have seen it before.”

    Well if you spent all that time on the floor of the Mercantile Exchange you should be able to recognize fear when you see it. Believe me no one is more of sceptic than me but in September-December of 2008 the administration, the Fed, and the entire financial establishment of this country were shit scared. I know this from sources in the industry but you only had to take a look at Paulson and Bernanke to realize these were very frightened men. Bush was clueless about what was happening. There were very good reasons Bush, Paulson and Bernanke took office as Friedmanite free marketeers and left as Keynesians. And you aren’t going to find the answers at some blog with an agenda.




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  15. Pete says:

    Joe, could it be they were scared because they were clueless? They had been mesmerized and immunized by the accolytes of that Saloman crowd and panicked when the “unthinkable” occurred.
    I’m not claiming to be right; only that what you see is not what is. Especially from the people who pull the strings.




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  16. Jim Treacher says:

    Success is failure. Ideas I don’t like aren’t really ideas.




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  17. Brummagem Joe says:

    Pete says:
    Wednesday, September 29, 2010 at 11:05

    “Joe, could it be they were scared because they were clueless?”

    I wouldn’t call Paulson (the former chief of GS) and Bernanke clueless by the faintest stretch of the imagination. Rather the reverse in that they could see the magnitude of the disaster staring us in the face. To suggest clueless people get their jobs isn’t really credible is it? My contacts in the financial industry tell me a lot of people were wetting their pants when Lehman went down. And there’s nothing irrational about panic if there’s reason for panic as all those who held onto their Lehman stock rather than dumping it at the first shock waves will tell you!!




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  18. Pete says:

    Joe, I missed your snark about a blog with an agenda. You think Roubini doesn’t have an agenda, or the Fed, who is the chief architect of all things regarding monetary instability, bubbles and recessions? You say you talked to sources in the industry. So what? They said the big shots were scared. So, does that mean the big shots were scared because they understood the situation and didn’t know how to deal with it, or were scared because they didn’t understand the situation and therefore didn’t have any answers? Maybe they just punted and said, “Shit, let’s intervene with government, trust the public to be willing dupes, and then we can analyze it later to decide whether our response was warranted.” Of course, any later analysis which would point out the error of their ways would never see the light of day.

    I don’t think you are a big enough skeptic. I think you are too prone to group think and you have bought into the spin. But I appreciate your response.




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  19. Nightrider says:

    TARP is peanuts, and plus, it is done anyway. Medicare and military would be much more useful things to talk about if we wanted to be serious.




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  20. Pete says:

    Joe; To suggest clueless people get their jobs isn’t really credible is it? You have been seduced, haven’t you? How many people in positions of power have been proven to be incompetent and clueless? I’m sure you have an opinion on that.




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  21. Pete says:

    Joe, here’s one for the ages:

    “It’s a safe banking system, a sound banking system. Our regulators are on top of it. This is a very manageable situation.”

    -Hank Paulson July 9, 2008




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  22. Pete says:

    Joe, here are your credible experts:

    efore July is over…

    “Adequately capitalized” and “in no danger of failing.”

    -Ben Bernanke on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, July 16, 2008, less than two months before they were placed into conservatorship.

    “This is far and away the strongest global economy I’ve seen in my business lifetime.”

    -Hank Paulson, July 12, 2007

    “It’s a safe banking system, a sound banking system. Our regulators are on top of it. This is a very manageable situation.”

    -Hank Paulson, July 20, 2008




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  23. Brummagem Joe says:

    Pete says:
    Wednesday, September 29, 2010 at 11:23
    “Joe, I missed your snark about a blog with an agenda. You think Roubini doesn’t have an agenda, ”

    Of course a lot of people have agendas but you don’t have to have an agenda to realize the financial system was teetering on the brink in late ’08. Even the clueless Bush and Cheney despite their extreme free market views figured that out and turned it over to the experts (Paulsen, Bernanke and Geithner). Thanks for telling me what I think, but I’ll stick with making up my own mind based on the prima facie evidence and not second hand opinions gleaned from blogs with an agenda.




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  24. Brummagem Joe says:

    Pete says:
    Wednesday, September 29, 2010 at 11:38

    “Joe, here are your credible experts:”

    So in the summer of 2008 with the entire world financial system in a high state of nervousness the US Treasury Secretary is supposed to come out and say there is good reason to panic because the entire US financial system is about to collapse? Yes that makes entire sense. For someone who claims to be able to differentiate spin from reality you seem to place remarkable reliance on Treasury boilerplate statements as an accurate reflexion of what Paulson was really thinking.




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  25. ponce says:

    I think Sam has it, Matt Taibbi has written the Tea Party Rosetta Stone:

    “Vast forests have already been sacrificed to the public debate about the Tea Party: what it is, what it means, where it’s going. But after lengthy study of the phenomenon, I’ve concluded that the whole miserable narrative boils down to one stark fact: They’re full of shit. All of them. “




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  26. Pete says:
  27. Pete says:

    Joe, thanks for the exchange. I wish you well




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  28. ponce says:

    Pete,

    Citing the droppings of David Freddoso, one of the Koch brother’s trained chimps, isn’t much of a comeback.

    The truth that the Tea Party freaks have no idea what they stand for other than the laughable idea that white Americans are some kind of oppressed minority is even coming out on Fox News.

    Put a fork in it, it’s deader than Ross Perot’s thousand year Reform Party.




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  29. Pete says:

    Ponce, even if the Tea Party completely transformed American politics, I suspect you will not change your mind. Have fun after November.




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  30. john personna says:

    The TARP bailout will end up costing the Treasury almost nothing, and it prevented a complete meltdown of not only the American, but perhaps the global financial system, with would have led to horrendous consequences for “everyone else”.

    Do you mean TARP literally or figuratively? By that I mean the narrow Troubled Asset Relief Program or in context of broader cash infusions?

    FWIW, if TARP (literally) broke even I’d worry that it might be part gaming the books, but on the other hand TARP is the only visible part of the iceberg for many. Consider:

    The Fed conducted its last major round of Treasury purchases from January 2009 to March 2010, buying $1.25 trillion in mortgage-backed securities and about $175 billion in debt owed by government agencies. The Fed planned on gradually reducing its balance sheet as the debt matured or was prepaid.

    Anyone TARP related who could unload bonds to the Treasury could shed a sigh of relief … and if those bonds should fail to yield, they won’t be judged as “TARP” failures.




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  31. john personna says:

    BTW, I agree that we had to do something at the critical moments of crisis, but it’s possible that in the aftermath government institutions got a little too good at quietly socializing private losses.




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  32. mantis says:

    The Insurgency began in the fall of 2008, when President Bush, Senator Obama, and Senator McCain appeared together to endorse the TARP bailout. At that moment the lights came on for many Americans. It was glaringly obvious that both political parties jointly operated the system, and the system existed to protect the well connected at the expense of everyone else. The public opposed the TARP bailouts; the banks got their money anyway. The Insurgency, long brewing, began.

    Lotus is, of course, wrong. The Tea Party movement began with Rick Santelli screaming about the Homeowners Affordability and Stability Plan, crying and whining that the government was “promoting bad behavior” (which he didn’t care about when the government bailed out the banks that nearly destroyed our economy) by subsidizing “the losers’ mortgages” (subsidizing his criminal industry when it implodes, at the expense of the rest of us, is a-ok). That’s the beginning of the Tea Party movement: rage about $75 billion being spent to help families from losing their homes. Santelli suggested a Tea Party for crybaby traders, and it just snowballed from there, spreading to every conservative Medicare and Social Security beneficiary in the country who wants the Kenyan socialist to keep his damned hands off of their socialist government benefits and stop raising their taxes, which he never did.




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  33. The problem with the Tea Party movement is that it’s making the same error that we made going into Iraq. The assumption that all we have to do is upend the existing status quo and a bright glorious future will spontaneously form in the aftermath without any additional effort; thus we just need to figure out how to topple Leviathan, not worry about what comes after.

    Of course history repeatedly shows that if you don’t have a plan for what comes after, you tend to get a replacement far worse than what you just got rid of.

    As for TARP, the problem I have is all the “we have to do this or else” talk was all coming from people who would be huge beneficiaries of the bailout. Would the results of doing nothing have been disatorous for America? Or just Goldman Sachs. And I really should say “more disatorous for America”, as even with TARP there’s no indiciation we did anything than delay the reckoning while transferring trillions of dollars from taxpayers to connected insiders.

    If we stave off the collapse for a few years while simultaneously making it hard for average people to survive it, have we really accomplished anything?




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  34. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Howls in the night. The Tea Party is what it is. I do not think anyone who blogs or comments here has a f ing clue. The Tea Party is the American people saying no. Our contract with government is based upon the Constitution. It was written in plain english for all to understand. The governed are in the process of insisting the government abide by those rules. Smaller government, lower taxes and less regulation (I don’t wish to listen to BS about how a lack of regulations got us into this situation. It all happened because of Freddie, Fannie, Dodd and Frank). Ignore the Tea Party at your own risk, but it is not going away, no matter how many idiots say it is. Just remember treason is punishable by death.




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  35. mantis says:

    I don’t wish to listen to BS about how a lack of regulations got us into this situation. It all happened because of Freddie, Fannie, Dodd and Frank

    A perfect exemplar of the Tea Party movement.

    “Nanananana, I’m not listening to you, nanananana!” ::cupping ears, runs away screaming::




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  36. Schooner says:

    There is no “Tea Party”.

    They are Republicans, who run in Republican primaries and get voted in by other Republicans. The so called party is financially supported by groups led by Republicans like Dick Armey and the Koch brothers.




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  37. john personna says:

    It all happened because of Freddie, Fannie, Dodd and Frank

    Not sure if that line was the BS you didn’t want to listen to, but that line is certainly false.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subprime_mortgage_crisis

    The question is whether people who blame Freddie and Fannie are nimble enough to learn, or if their minds are so calcified at this point that they’ll carry the mis-belief to their graves …




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  38. Pete says:

    JP, are you saying wikipedia is the ultimate source for accurate info?




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  39. Solidspine says:

    “Harnessing The Tea Party”

    I guess you are missing the WHOLE point of the tea party.

    Hussein obama has got to go immediately.




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  40. Brummagem Joe says:

    Pete says:
    Wednesday, September 29, 2010 at 15:04
    “JP, are you saying wikipedia is the ultimate source for accurate info?”

    Whereas the “independant institute” is of course. Quite apart from wiki there’s a host of other data that confirms that F/F had little or nothing to do with the financial meltdown. Since you claim to have worked on the Chicago Mercantile I assume you are financially literate so all you have to do is look at the share of mortgages purchased in the secondary market by F/F and as best I recall it wasn’t until mid 2007 when private capital fled the market as it always does in a downturn that F/F was taking a greater than 25% share of the mortgage market. When the big bubble occurred in 2004-2006 the vast majority of securitized mortgages were being bought by the private sector. F/F increased their share with the encouragement of the admin who were desperate to keep the market afloat. The housing market slowdown btw commenced in Q3 2006.




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  41. sam says:

    Taibbi on why the Tea Party is not serious about reining in government spending:

    Scanning the thousands of hopped-up faces in the crowd, I am immediately struck by two things. One is that there isn’t a single black person here. The other is the truly awesome quantity of medical hardware: Seemingly every third person in the place is sucking oxygen from a tank or propping their giant atrophied glutes on motorized wheelchair-scooters. As Palin launches into her Ronald Reagan impression — “Government’s not the solution! Government’s the problem!” — the person sitting next to me leans over and explains.

    “The scooters are because of Medicare,” he whispers helpfully. “They have these commercials down here: ‘You won’t even have to pay for your scooter! Medicare will pay!’ Practically everyone in Kentucky has one.”

    A hall full of elderly white people in Medicare-paid scooters, railing against government spending and imagining themselves revolutionaries as they cheer on the vice-presidential puppet hand-picked by the GOP establishment. If there exists a better snapshot of everything the Tea Party represents, I can’t imagine it.

    Op. cit.




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  42. sam says:

    @Zels

    “Just remember treason is punishable by death.”

    I for one am tired, tired, tired of your cheapass recourse to threats of violence, you unemployment check-cashing anti-government spending loudmouthed asshole.




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  43. john personna says:

    JP, are you saying wikipedia is the ultimate source for accurate info?

    Well Pete, for future reference you should know that this is the weakest sort of counter-argument known to man. It does not deal at all with the contents of that Wikipedia page. It does not ask me about the contents of that Wikipedia page. In blind panic it thinks of the most ridiculous demand possible, and asks me to certify all the Wikipedias you and I have not looked at.

    In terms of the traditional definitions of logical fallacy, I’d guess it is a simple Non Sequitor.

    Non sequitur (Latin for “it does not follow”), in formal logic, is an argument in which its conclusion does not follow from its premises.[1] In a non sequitur, the conclusion can be either true or false, but the argument is fallacious because there is a disconnection between the premise and the conclusion. All formal fallacies are special cases of non sequitur. The term has special applicability in law, having a formal legal definition. Many types of known non sequitur argument forms have been classified into many different types of logical fallacies.

    That is, all of Wikipedia does not have to be correct for that page to be correct.

    As it happens, I have read broadly on the sub-prime crisis, and I’d say that one page is correct.

    I can give you more links to broaden support:

    http://www.investopedia.com/articles/07/subprime-blame.asp

    http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2010/02/causes-of-the-crisis/

    http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/355/the-giant-pool-of-money




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  44. Brummagem Joe says:

    Pete says:
    Wednesday, September 29, 2010 at 15:04
    “JP, are you saying wikipedia is the ultimate source for accurate info?”

    And just to make life easy for you Pete (and add to the data above from John personna), here are all the numbers from the Conservators report issued in late August of this year.

    http://modeledbehavior.com/2010/08/27/fannie-freddie-acquitted/

    The entire F/F, Barney Frank forced Angelo to do it, line is utter bs and easily contradicted by the numbers. Krugman took some far better qualified guy than you or me (from the American Enterprise Institute what a surprise ) to pieces over this a couple of weeks back.




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  45. Pete says:

    First of all, I did not make the claim that F&F caused the crisis. That was Zels.
    Second, all I asked was whether Wikipedia is the ultimate source for accurate research? According to you, JP, it doesn’t matter. So I wouldn’t quote it as a source lest I be thought a fool. I have my own opinion of what led to the housing meltdown, and I haven’t offered it here.




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  46. john personna says:

    No Pete, you should read the page to see how it matches your general knowledge. If you find holes, you should talk about those.

    As it happens, I’m pretty confident about the Wikipedia process for a topic like this. For while it is contested by partisans it is something that must be ultimately tied to fact. In the case of sub-prime mortgages, we can look at the record to see who actually made them.

    It was commercial banks, working with wall street firms to bundle mortgage backed securities, with the blessing of private ratings agencies. Fact.




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  47. Pete says:

    JP, I’ll concede your point here. I read much of the info and found nothing glaringly inaccurate. But, by the power of suggestion, or omission, the info omits direct mention of The Fed’s complicity (unless I missed it) in setting the stage for the whole event. It mentions low interest rates (The Fed), but makes no effort to place that into proper context as to its contribution. That would be my primary objection to the facts laid out. In addition, I saw little or no reference to the mindset instilled on Wall Street and members of congress, by The Fed, after they orchestrated the bailout of the banks in the LTCM fiasco.

    My skepticism of Wikipedia also stems from:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reliability_of_Wikipedia




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  48. Gerry W. says:

    Sam,
    I give you 2 thumbs up on this blog to find an ironic and funny quote. Thanks.




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  49. Brummagem Joe says:

    Pete says:
    Wednesday, September 29, 2010 at 16:15

    “the info omits direct mention of The Fed’s complicity (unless I missed it) in setting the stage for the whole event.”

    No one, certainly not me, is acquitting the Greenspan fed of a large part of the responsibility for what happened but on scale of 1 to 10, F/F responsibility is a one. The tens are cheap money from the fed, lax regulation by the admin, reckless banking practices and a profligate fiscal policy by the admin.




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  50. sam says:

    “The tens are cheap money from the fed, lax regulation by the admin, reckless banking practices and a profligate fiscal policy by the admin.”

    Not to be overlooked is (as I keep citing…)

    Recipe for Disaster: The Formula That Killed Wall Street by Felix Salmon at Wired. Those boys became bewitched by mathematics.




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  51. Gerry W. says:

    I think Thomas Friedman once said Washington and our country is run by lawyers and China is run by engineers. It saddens me that all we get out of the Tea Party is tax cuts and cut spending. There is so much more in running a country. I sit by and watch China build the largest airport, the longest bridge, high speed rail, gobbling up metals, building whole cities, and now they want to use state subsidize money for biotech and other future industries. In our country, we fight over principles and ideologies. We fight wars and China comes into Iraq and Afghanistan and run the mines, etc. We continually waste time over such political nonsense in politics as the world moves on. We continually send our jobs overseas and then say we are running up debt. And all we get is the same old talk from both parties and the Tea Party offers nothing new. They are mad, we are mad, I am mad, but it seems like we cannot solve our problems. We have a dysfunctional government and it keeps destroying our country.

    If we can’t solve our problems, in which we are turning into an oligarchy, then I suggest changing our electoral system as I had said in a list posted before on other blogs.

    ***16. And finally, I don’t think our elected political system works anymore. Every candidate is bought off and it takes huge amounts of money to run a campaign. I would suggest a management team or a turn around specialist to be a president for a couple of years. And there would be a board of directors who he answers to and for the middle class. The parties are riddled with failed ideologies. We can do better than what we have.***




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