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Your Opinion: Ideologues err with singular focus

Dear Editor:

The Tea Party Republicans such as Vicky Hartzler have mugged Uncle Sam, and they are proud of it. They also pride themselves on having “identified” a problem, namely budget deficits, and on having proposed a solution. None of these things is praiseworthy.

Let’s start with the mugging. Republican extremists threatened to force the first-ever default on U.S. debt unless they got their way on spending cuts. A default would have been a financial disaster for the country, so the Democrats and moderate Republicans had to buckle under. They averted default by agreeing to a spending-cuts-only deficit-reduction package.

The Tea Party now brags that they “shaped the debate.” What they did was put a financial gun to the country’s head and demand our compliance with their program or our financial life. This is common thuggery, and those who practiced it, like Vicky Hartzler, should be kicked out of office.

The Tea Party also brags that they “identified” a problem. Well there is not much credit to be had there. Everyone knows the country is running budget deficits.

But then they brag about their spending-cuts-only solution to the deficit problem. Their reasoning is very sophisticated. It goes, “Big Deficits. Cut Spending.” It may fit on a bumper sticker, but it fails as fiscal analysis.

To begin with, huge spending cuts will cost many jobs. Our economy can’t afford that. Furthermore, deficits arise when spending exceeds income. The Tea Partyers focus on spending and ignore income.

They are either unaware or unconcerned that some large corporations pay very little in taxes. Last year General Electric earned $3 billion in profits but paid no federal tax, thanks to lobbyist-backed loopholes. It is not just corporations that don’t pay their fair share in taxes. Warren Buffett said in 2007 that he earned $46 million and paid 17.7 percent in taxes. His secretary earned $60,000 and paid 30 percent. The rich get tax breaks that lots of people don’t. That is why the income gap between the top 1 percent and other Americans has been widening for 30 years, but most sharply since 2001. ( The Tea Party “cut spending only” program will make income inequality even worse. If we can get the Tea Party ideologues out of the Congress, it will be possible to put some fairness into the tax system, bring in more revenue and reduce the deficit.

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