Tea, Anyone?

The problems in the U.S. economy won’t be solved anytime soon with Congress focused on elections in November, federal spending reserves largely depleted and nerves on edge about making changes that could trigger another housing market crash. It’s likely we will be in a legislative stalemate between now and the November elections. That also means our much needed job creation is a ways away.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have received almost $150 billion from taxpayers since the Bush administration took over the mortgage giants in 2008. The move was widely seen as necessary in preventing a complete financial meltdown for the U.S. economy. I have my doubts. The recent Wall Street reform legislation didn’t even touch on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. This is a sin of omission that is truly unforgiveable, since it was these quasi-governmental institutions that played a huge part in creating the recession we’ve all been forced to endure for the last several years.

Years ago I was extremely frustrated with congressional stalemates; today I think anything that can keep the evil genies in the bottle for now is a good thing. The problem is I just don’t trust Congress anymore and I don’t think they’ve given us any reason to believe otherwise. Today it makes little difference whether they are Republican or Democrat. Neither side seems to be committed to smaller government, reduced taxes, balacing the budget or personal accountability for that matter.

The first time I stepped into a ballot box was in 1980 where I cast my vote for Ronald Reagan. Since then I have voted along party lines albeit holding my nose at times. Reagan gave me something that no other politician has been able to deliver on since—pride in being an American and optimism about the future.

I’ve always been a proponent of limited government and lower taxes, which was considered to be disgraceful by my mother and father who were steadfast democratic supporters. Even in college I was secretive about being a college Republican, fearing the wrath of my liberal household. Reagan was instrumental in cementing my belief in limited government, states’ rights and low taxation. He did this by making it possible to feel a sense of American pride once again. This was a new way of looking at the world for me. I remember watching the nightly news in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s where it became chic to be anti-American or anti-establishment. I was just a little guy and wasn’t really anti anything except perhaps broccoli or Brussels sprouts, but I knew full well what the grown-ups were thinking.

The one thing that has piqued my curiosity lately and perhaps inspired some optimism for the fall elections is the Tea Party movement. I’m no longer someone who can vote the party line for Republicans. The Democrats like big government and don’t hide it. The Republicans like big government, too, but lie about it. They both say one thing and do another. The word “politician” has become synonymous with dishonesty for me. Since the Tea Party is a grass roots organization, they probably stand a better chance of following through on what they propose. Critics say the Tea Party is radical, but what I hear and read about them is that they just want a government that can practice fiscal restraint. If that’s radical, perhaps I am, too.

There is urgency about the times we live in. The United States is running out of time to get its budget and trade deficits under control. Despite the serious need for remedies, 2010 has been wasted in hype about a non-existent recovery. Though not a resounding endorsement, Tea Party backed candidates are the best shot we have going forward. I imagine they are not immune to Potomac Fever, but the alternatives are one group that’s not gripping reality and another that doesn’t get honesty. Maybe the Tea Party folks can vet the choices for November. I’m willing to bet on them.

Peter E. Mead
Casino Enterprise Management

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