Passion good; decent solutions please!

While we’re on the subject of the Tea Party, I have to say that I want to believe, but sometimes it’s hard to take them seriously. I found myself reading an opinion piece that a Tea Party leader managed to get on CNN but was disappointed to learn that there was almost nothing remotely credible in his proposed solutions to our nation’s problems, most of which amounted to chipping away at small government agencies and programs that are not very expensive or rattling his saber at illegal immigrants.

For example, he’d like to Nuke the EPA and ED from orbit. Sounds fun, but the EPA’s 2010 budget is less than a third of a percent of the total U.S. budget. The Department Of Education is a bigger slice at 4.6%, but that’s still small potatoes.

Don’t believe me? Here’s a graph of 2010 Federal spending. The fact of the matter is that there are five programs that account for greater than 75% of ALL Federal spending in 2010: Social Security; the Military; Unemployment comp/misc. welfare; Medicare; and Medicaid/SCHIP.

From what I’ve seen, though, typical Tea Partiers don’t want to get ride of Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid, typically explaining it with statements like, “I’ve paid into it all my life, I deserve this!” And I’m certain that they don’t want to cut the military budget one cent. That leaves unemployment comp and other miscellaneous welfare — a total of 16% of the total budget.

It’s true that that 16% chunk could be cut substantially, but it also includes things like VA hospitals and veterans’ mental health care, which, again, I’m sure Tea Partiers do not want cut. From the Times article:

Some defended being on Social Security while fighting big government by saying that since they had paid into the system, they deserved the benefits.

Others could not explain the contradiction.

“That’s a conundrum, isn’t it?” asked Jodine White, 62, of Rocklin, Calif. “I don’t know what to say. Maybe I don’t want smaller government. I guess I want smaller government and my Social Security.” She added, “I didn’t look at it from the perspective of losing things I need. I think I’ve changed my mind.”

You can’t have your cake and eat it too.


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