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Froma Harrop's op-ed column on the Fiscal Cliff: The politics of threat.
Threats, threats, threats. One major Tea Party website is promoting a "Fax Blast" to end the "political cancer" of deficit spending. The recent election showed the Tea Partyers to be a menace mainly to the Republican Party, and the party elders are speaking up about it. The movement's power-of-the-threat is clearly not what it was, which is why the site blusters: "Just about the time they thought the Tea Party is growing weak from battle, giving up, WHAMMY! They get fax hammered with boiling hot faxes!"
Guess what. I don't care for deficit spending, either, and neither do most Americans. But we're not running deep deficits because we have unsustainable programs, as Republicans claim. Programs are sustainable if you sustain them. Things are paid for with tax revenues, and federal taxes as a percentage of the gross domestic product are at their lowest level
No one likes a profligate government, and savings are there to be found. Obamacare starts to address the enormous waste in the biggest source of entitlement spending, Medicare. Republicans want to slash its spending deeper through a voucher system. Fine, if they can sell Americans on their voucher plan, they should go ahead and do it. But note that they haven't, because the people want more medical security.
Since the right can't get what it wants through normal channels, it is trying the back door of threats to the American economy. We can all go over the cliff, and everyone suffers. That'll teach us a thing or two. After Plan B went down, congressional Republicans' approval rating inched even lower to 26 percent. Perhaps the public is getting tired of being threatened.
Froma Harrop is a columnist