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A tip of the hat to members of the Tea Party

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Column by Jim Flynn

Tea Partiers (TPs) are entitled to a celebration for progress with two important issues in their “Contract from America” agenda — to restore fiscal responsibility and limited government in Washington. Resolution of the debt/deficit deadlock may be one small step for the TPs, but it’s a welcome breakthrough to many Americans who are tired of out-of-control government growth and spending.
The Tea Party is a populist uprising which has infuriated the leadership of both major political parties.
Democrats see the TPs as Republican extremists who are causing dysfunctional government. Vice President Biden called them terrorists. Seems like the TPs came along just in time to be blamed by Democrats for their already malfunctioning government, which has spent a bundle and produced a bungle.
Republicans on the other hand have been sandwiched between gratitude to TPs for helping them gain majority control of the House of Representatives and aggravation over the TPs’ pushy persistency in asserting their goals. Pressure from the TPs however proved to be the backbone of Republicans who were outnumbered in the debt/deficit debate by the White House and Senate.
Popular uprisings have been frequent throughout American history, triggered most often by public loss of confidence in government, the political system, big business, Wall Street, and bankers.
Uprisings can be healthy. They sometimes morph into significant social changes, such as the civil rights movement. As President Thomas Jefferson observed: “A little rebellion now and then is a good thing. It’s a medicine necessary to the sound health of the government.”
Where to next for the Tea Party? One of their stars, Rep. Michelle Bachmann, is campaigning for the presidency. We doubt there are a sufficient number of TPs and social conservatives to help her capture the nomination, but these are unpredictable times. Who would have thought the tiny Tea Party could have reshaped the U.S. fiscal debate?
There are several years of hard work ahead for the TPs, navigating the traps and triggers of the just passed debt and deficit bill. Despite the debt/deficit deal, Washington will still be spending and borrowing 40 percent more than it receives.
The Tea Party will also be busy trying to add like-minded members to Congress in 2012, in hope of turning their one small step into additional changes to Washington’s bad habits.

The dedicated duo of Senate majority leader Harry Reid and House minority leader Nancy Pelosi will exercise their best efforts to block the painful prospect of life without unlimited spending. To liberal Democrats it’s the worst imaginable trauma.
The president and Sen. Chuck Schumer from New York are already exhibiting withdrawal symptoms, still talking monotonously about the need for additional spending and more revenue (meaning taxes) in order to create jobs (meaning votes).