The Latest Debt Kamikaze: The Tea Party

Not surprisingly, there are plenty of debt kamikazes in the Tea Party Movement:

Right now, some Republican lawmakers in Washington may be wondering how to wiggle out from between a rock and a hard place.

On one hand, they’re staring at a possible financial nightmare if the nation’s debt limit isn’t raised. On the other, many are feeling the heat from tea party demands that bluntly warn: Vote against us and suffer political consequences.

To be sure, Democrats are also under pressure from progressive constituencies who are pushing for more revenue in the form of tax increases — and for them to stand firm against cuts to entitlements such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

But over its 2½-year existence, the tea party movement has placed its banner of less government spending at the center of the national conversation. So many activists are watching who’s voting on what, even their conservative supporters in Congress — and especially putting the squeeze on moderate Republicans.

What they’re saying around the country is, “Do not raise the debt ceiling. It’s that simple. It’s time for Congress to get its fiscal house in order,” Tea Party Patriots co-founder Jenny Beth Martin told CNN. The group is the nation’s largest tea party organization.

Martin explained that her group’s supporters want a balanced-budget amendment, significant spending cuts and lower taxes. And they don’t want the debt limit raised.


“I think that it’s accurate to call it pressure,” Martin said. “The other thing is, we’re holding these … freshmen accountable. A lot of these freshmen ran on the promise that they were not going to increase the debt ceiling. Now, they’re in D.C. with all of their colleagues on the Hill. And they’re buying into the company line, forgetting about the fact that the American people have elected them not to do that.”

For those who vote to raise the debt limit, “The American people are going to watch what they did, watch what happens to the economy and next November, I think there will be consequences,” Martin said.

So, it seems that these people are willing to crash the economy for the sake of a political battle that they cannot possibly win right now. There’s no logic in that position.


FILED UNDER: Congress, Deficit and Debt, US Politics, , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. lunaticllama says:

    Their position has always been to crash the economy for the sake of a political battle they can’t win right now. What has changed?

    Their agenda, such as it is, could not even be implemented from a practical standpoint. If you cut taxes further, but demand balanced budgets, what programs are we going to cut to balance the books? The answer is a mysterious one, because tea party Congressional leaders say they don’t want any cuts to the military.

  2. I can’t decide how much of this stuff is plain ignorance, cognitive dissonance, or just plain dishonesty.

  3. Liberty60 says:

    We see it even here on these blogs- conservatives who insist we can immediately enact a 40% cut to federal spending, without suffering any ill effect economically.

    Of course they can’t identify any cuts (other than the elusive Dept of WasteFraud&Abuse).

    But that 40% fat is there, trust them.

    I would chalk it up to ignorance, but even after the numbers are laid out in a clear simple format, they continue insisting it is possible.

    I really do think it is like a religious fervor for them.

  4. Gerry W. says:

    A one trick pony. You need demand and jobs also.

  5. Tlaloc says:

    Hopefully not to beat a dead horse but you can’t expect logic from a group that was explicitly created out of a rejection of evidence and consensual reality. The hard right has worked for decades now to create an alternate universe in which their echo chambers are nearly inviolate.

  6. Hey Norm says:

    Tea Party Patriots is the front group of Freedomworks and Dick Armey.
    Idiocy explained.