Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Tea Party's Prize

With the louder than normal bluster by both real and wannabe Tea Party Republicans over the past few days, and the flurry of major Republican op-eds on Wednesday, we figured something else was really behind all the political rustling in the bushes.

Sure enough, yesterday afternoon, CNN's Dana Bash flushed out a report about the deal now floating around Capitol Hill, to potentially solve at least the debt ceiling fight. Not too long after that initial report, multiple other sources began confirming that multiple key Republicans in Congress now appear ready to send President Obama a clean debt ceiling bill, even as they may still keep the rest of the government closed.

Since tea party Republican Rep. Marlin Stutzman of Indiana whined a week ago today that House Republicans just HAD to get something out of this fight, even if they didn't know what it was, the question hasn't really been IF Republicans would claim a prize before they dealt with the reality of the debt ceiling. It's mostly been a question of when.

Still, like Ed Kilgore of Washington Monthly pointed out, the Tea Party extremists have fully expected to get a prize of some kind out of this whole affair. After looking at both the economic and political costs of the Tea Party shutdown so far, it appears their prize isn't coming from either President Obama or Democrats in Congress.

Their prize appears to have come from Wall Street, at the expense of all Americans.

Indeed, thanks to the Tea Party extremists' shutdown, not only did this week include the largest weekly drop in U.S. economic confidence since the Great Recession began in 2008. The global economy has also begun to slow down, a fact that neither Wall Street investors or American debt holders let go unnoticed. What really shook the markets though was Fidelity Investments dumping nearly all their short-term U.S. government bonds on Wednesday.

Traditional Wall Street business interests also sent their hounds after Congress over the past few days, and one of the biggest outside political organizations, Koch Industries, made a rare move yesterday of distancing themselves from the Republican Party's ridiculous actions. Two other major conservative political groups, Heritage Action and Freedomworks also told Republicans to quit the hunt on Wednesday.

With the Republican Party's traditional business and political allies abandoning them, the poll numbers that came out this week could hardly be considered surprising. Congress is now at a five percent approval rating, literally lower than dog poop. This political snipe hunt has been especially bad for the Republican Party, with their favorability ratings at an all-time low for any political party - even lower than when the Republicans in Congress impeached President Clinton.

We'd like to think the kind of selfish, short-sighted, wholly irresponsible behavior displayed during this shutdown fight by Tea Party Republicans will carry over into brutal losses for the GOP in the 2014 elections. However, like Paul Waldman of The American Prospect, we're not entirely sure it will.

What we are fairly sure of is that whenever this deal becomes finalized over the next few hours or days, President Obama's signature health care insurance reform will still be standing, and neither he nor Congressional Democrats will have had hardly anything taken from them.

Meanwhile, our nation's economy - that was poised to become very bullish again - will have effectively been hunted down and shot by Tea Party Republicans.

Congratulations, nutjobs. Enjoy your reward.

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