Ever since the Tea Party movement swept Republicans into virtual control of Congress, I’ve been praying for what I call “The Schwarzenegger Swoon.” The Tea Party claims they stand for fiscal responsibility, limited government, and Free Markets. In reality, they want to oust President Obama and permanently control Congress.
Time after time they’ve taken our nation to the brink of an economic disaster to pursue their ideological agenda. They’ve delayed economic and job recovery and are targeting Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other vital programs that promote independent living.
If you remember, after Governor Schwarzenegger was elected following the recall of Governor Davis, Democrats trembled in fear that Californians supported his “blowing up the boxes” to radically change state government. The new Governor repealed a Vehicle License Fee increase, even though California lost $4 billion annually in state revenues which, combined with interest payments from billions of borrowing, contributed to future budget deficits. He also forced Democrats to enact insurance industry-backed workers’ compensation “reforms” that harmed injured workers, including me, just to increase industry profits.
In 2004 the Governor had a 65 percent approval rating. Then the “swoon” began after Republicans blasted his “moderate” ideas. In 2005 voters overwhelmingly rejected in a Special Election his four initiatives designed to increase his powers. His poll numbers continually fell amidst a declining state economy and endless budget battles. By 2010, his job approval ratings were only 22% with 70% disapproving.
Will there be a “Tea Party Swoon” in the next elections? There should be one because they’ve caused divisive, partisan Federal budget and deficit reduction battles that have threatened the nation’s and world’s economies. In August, polls showed 43 percent of respondents believe the Tea Party has too much influence over Republicans and those identifying with them changed from 31% to 18%.
Middle class families, seniors, and people with disabilities have been under constant attack. Average Americans are mystified why Tea Party Republicans ignore their needs, but fight to lower taxes for the wealthy. The Occupy [BLANK] movements send conflicting messages, but they do ask why the top 1% should accumulate wealth at the expense of the remaining 99%.
This week the Tea Party took another hit over the payroll tax extension issue when they forced the House to reject a bipartisan Senate agreement to extend it for 2 months. They’re scheduled to pass if by a voice vote today, but once again ideology is taking precedence over our economy. This cliff walk could cause 160 million workers to lose an extra $40 in each paycheck. Its passage extends unemployment benefits for 3 million and avoids a 20% cut in physician Medicare reimbursements.
The payroll tax fiasco backfired and angered constituents when Republicans returned home. Even the conservative Wall Street Journal criticized Tea Party Republicans over their strategy and called for the extension.
How many times will Americans accept being brought to the edge of disaster? Will they finally lose patience with the Tea Party as Californians did with Arnold? Let’s hope so.
Our community must mobilize as never before during the 2012 elections to protect our entitlement programs. Lawmakers should protect us, not exploit us.