Bill Kristol tells GOP to come back to the table.

A vote-stealing rapper!

Gorilla.800.lbs wrote:
A vote-stealing rapper! :D

IMAGE(http://origin.playstationlifestyle.net/assets/uploads/2012/04/parappa.jpg)

Keithustus wrote:
The biggest problem here is we're still stuck in the America bias: "we created it, it sort of works, therefore it's not worth our time to see whether someone has something far better". And by better, I mean a more efficient system that would accomplish these goals: 1) meet the same societal need (prevent abysmal conditions in the elderly), 2) be financially efficient and sustainable (not be a pyramid scheme, not run out of funds in x years), and 3) prevent freeloaders (because this is always a question for the microeconomics of any system). Tying the benefits to inflation and the poverty line would seem wise to me, and possibly limiting benefits to those who need it--not Mitt Romney, etc.

1) Again, you're going to be hard pressed to find something more efficient than handing someone a check. If you layer on anything more than handing a check--providing services, building homes for the elderly, etc.--you've just made the system more complex and less efficient.

2) Social Security is not a pyramid scheme. It's funded by current workers. We're just going through a transitional phase that was caused by a demographic bulge: the Baby Boomers. For the next decade or two we'll be paying out more than we take in, but that gap will decline as the Baby Boomers die out. By mid-2020, they should mostly be six feet under.

3) As long as someone got a paycheck in their lifetime, they've paid for Social Security and Medicare. Hell, Social Security occasionally sends you a flyer telling you how much in benefits you can expect based on your pay in to date. There's few freeloaders with these programs and the ones that haven't paid in were either too disabled or ill to work in the first place (so I don't think you'll want to cut them off) or they've paid into an alternative pension systems, like some teacher's unions have.

Keithustus wrote:

The reason I would want to end social security incrementally, not wholesale, is because according to information today, none of us will ever get any of it, despite it and Medicare taking up half-ish of our federal budget. If you're close to or already retired, then good for you that you are, but my generation is giving all our withholdings to you but will not get anything.

As others have pointed out, people will still get Social Security benefits in a couple of decades. That's because there will still be tens of millions of American workers paying into the system every year. When people say Social Security will run out of money what they really mean is benefits will have to be slightly decreased unless some tweaks are made to the program, either in cost of living increases, when people qualify for the program, or how the program is funded.

Keithustus wrote:

So why don't we look around the world to other countries whose cost of living and quality of life have at least met ours and see how they address the same needs? Maybe there's something there that we could copy or learn from? Japan, Sweden, France, etc. probably have programs worth reviewing.

We don't even have universal healthcare, so an apple-to-apples comparison would be exceptionally difficult.

But let's take a look at those countries.

First, we should probably discard Japan immediately. The reason why is that Japan is in an entirely different world of sh*t with its elderly population. Whereas we're just going to a temporary generational population bubble with the Baby Boomers, Japan's population is actually shrinking. If nothing changes, as in the Japanese don't start breeding like rabbits are they dramatically open up their country to immigrants, their population will shrink by about a third by 2060. It's so serious that the Japanese government is actually investing money in programs to build robots to care for the elderly. What that means for any Japanese social program is that they're will always be more elderly than people in the workforce. Our elderly problem is generational, not permanent, and our population is growing (you can thank immigration and Hispanics for that).

That leaves France and Sweden. They face similar problems as we do: a generational Baby Boom, an aging population, and rising costs of care. But a direct comparison is difficult because their Social Security programs cover a heck of a lot more than our's does. In France it covers everything from elderly care, to universal healthcare, to disability/illness benefits, to family benefits (what we'd likely call welfare). In Sweden it covers everything that France does, sans universal healthcare. That's a separate program.

It should be noted that France's and Sweden's Social Security systems are entirely separate from their pension systems. All French citizens get at least some form of pension regardless of whether they contributed anything or not. The benefit is capped at 50% of their highest earning years with a hard limit of about $55,000 a year. It's paid for by taxes on employees and employers. Employees can be expected to kick in up to 7.7% of their income and employers up to 12.6%. Swedish pensions are funded by an 18.5% tax on salaries.

The Social Security taxes we pay are a pittance in comparison. Like France's system, ours is funded by taxes on employees and employers. Employees are expected to kick in 4.2% of their pay and employers 6.2%. So we pay about half of what France and Sweden do.

If we just look at elderly care, France's system is based on the idea that the younger generation is legally responsible for the the older generation and that eldercare was primarily the responsibility of the family. This idea has changed rapidly over the past several decades and now the care is increasingly split between the state, various insurance systems, social associations, and, of course, the family. The French benefit is a series of vouchers whereby the state essentially gives the elderly chunks of cash and lets them spend it as they see fit. Some vouchers are for housing, others are for care and services, etc. The amount of these vouchers is limited by level of income.

France's elderly care includes a wide variety of services, from general housework to personal services, to equipment such as wheelchairs and special beds. All the elderly person has to do is fill out the proper forms, have an interview with a government worker and, if approved, they'll get vouchers that the can spend as they see fit for those services. The state essentially just gives the elderly cash and they--and their families--have to figure out how to spend it. Consequently, there has been an explosion in for-profit elderly care companies in France.

Sweden's approach is different. The state, especially at the local level, has a much greater role than in elderly care than in France. There is no idea that a family member is responsible for the elderly. The benefits aren't limited based on your income as they are in France. If you are a Swedish citizen, you get them. Sweden offers similar care services as well, though what those services are are a reflection of what the elderly person wants (the French provide services more on the basis of medical need).

Sweden's approach is to have a local social welfare office and case worker for each elderly person whose job it is to make sure they get the care and services they need. Until the 1990s, those services were entirely provided by the state. Since then there are private companies that also provide said services, though they are heavily regulated.

So which approach is better? Who knows. Like the US, both France and Sweden are facing budget shortfalls and have cut or scaled back the growth of funds used to care for the elderly. France has been rocked by a series of reports of elderly abuse and neglect and has had to face the reality that its voucher system has let some elderly fall below the poverty line. The problem is severe enough that there's even been talk of adding another program to the French Social Security system, one solely designed to plug those gaps in care.

From a purely humane view, Sweden's approach seems to be better. I know my aging parents have to spend an increasing amount of time reviewing and comparing various gap insurance plans and whatnot to make sure they are adequately covered. That's obviously not something that every old person can do, especially when the laws--and the various private insurance policies--aren't exactly written to be clear as to what is covered and what is not. I also know that I have elderly relatives who, without help from someone else, wouldn't be able to make heads or tails from their options.

Keithustus wrote:

Most simple "reform" would almost certainly make the system more complicated and exploitable. How many times have we reformed our tax laws, and we all agree it's far from just. Maybe the answer really is as simple as making ALL income assess able for social security, not just the first $100,000, so that instead of Mitt Romney's $15,000 (complete guess) withholdings for ss/m he would have hundreds of thousands withheld for it? If that will resolve the issue, fine, but if we're still talking about social security and Medicare consuming more and more of our federal budget and yet those same programs being unsustainable, then it's time we rethought these things.

I simply don't understand how you think that reforming Social Security would make it more complicated and exploitable. Your primary concern with Social Security is that you seem to think that when you reach 62 there's not going to be any money left in the system. As others have pointed out, that's simply not true. There will still be tens of millions of workers paying into the system so the reality is that you might just get a somewhat smaller check or perhaps you won't get an annual cost of living increase. But that will only happen if we sit on our asses and do nothing for twenty five years.

Want to fund Social Security for the next 75 years? Remove the taxable wage base. Boom. You're done. In fact, you've funded it at 115%. Want more? Treat investment income as wages and tax appropriately. The Social Security fund would be swimming in ducats.

There's also loads we can do to tweak the system that wouldn't require increasing taxes, but still keep it solvent. We can delay when you can get benefits to 65 or 68, even. We can slightly reduce the amount of money each beneficiary gets each month. We can deny people getting benefits if they make too much money. But anyway you slice it--and even if nothing is done--you'll still get a Social Security check in your 60s.

Medicare is a different animal in that we're not going to get a handle on healthcare costs until we flip over to a single-payer system. It's pretty clear that private, for-profit healthcare doesn't exactly work and it certainly doesn't control costs. There we most definitely can learn a lot from Japan, France, and Sweden. Hell, we're essentially the only first-world country that doesn't provide universal healthcare.

Keithustus wrote:

Final note: I'm not supportive of what little I know about what conservatives would like to replace social security with. Something about personal accounts, like big Roth accounts or something. The trouble with that is the same trouble with 401ks instead of defined-benefits retirements: market unpredictability. I don't like the idea of funneling more and more money dangerously through the hands of Goldman Sachs and saying the government has swept the problem off the table.

Which is exactly why Bush's proposal to privatize Social Security fell flat on it's face: no one is comfortable relying solely on how well Wall Street is doing for their retirement.

What our generation and younger generations have learned is that Social Security is going to be a supplement to other retirement incomes. It's not going to be our sole source. Of course, the problem with that is not everyone has a job that has a 401(k) nor do they have a couple extra thousand dollars a year they can flip into an IRA.

Howard Dean this morning on CNBC was advocating for going over the fiscal cliff because it is the right thing to do for the long run.

Interesting perspective...I like it.

CheezePavilion wrote:
I don't think baby boomers conspired to make that happen.

So voting for the guy (GWB) who didn't want to put surplus SSI money into the "lock box" (Gore) is not actively making sure that SSI will be well funded when you need it?

Mayfield wrote:
CheezePavilion wrote:
I don't think baby boomers conspired to make that happen.

So voting for the guy (GWB) who didn't want to put surplus SSI money into the "lock box" (Gore) is not actively making sure that SSI will be well funded when you need it?

Well, I don't think the "lock box" wouldn't have funded SSI. The effect of the lock box would have been to keep the government from using the payroll tax surpluses to buy other, non-SSI stuff. As I understand it, the only difference is that instead of holding cash, the fund holds special government bonds that create intra-governmental debt. tl;dr: my understanding is that the lock box wouldn't have made the trust fund any more well funded, it just would have meant it was funded with cash and not government bonds.

Holy crap, OG_slinger, you're like our very own GWJ Research Service! Thanks for taking the time to really mull over my criticisms and concerns. The information on other countries is very interesting. I've only got a few quibbles, mostly where somehow you've misinterpreted me, but that's probably because I'm not terribly concerned with writing perfectly on an Internet forum (Not like when I'm at work, of course)

OG_slinger wrote:
1) Again, you're going to be hard pressed to find something more efficient than handing someone a check. If you layer on anything more than handing a check--providing services, building homes for the elderly, etc.--you've just made the system more complex and less efficient.

Perhaps I should take is up with an acquaintance who works at the Social Security Administration but I'm actually wondering about the efficiency of the scheme as a whole, not how it works at the user level. I agree that direct beneficiary payments are best, but I would like to know how the bureaucratic system works, like that annual statement we all get. There seems to be direct changes to what your benefits will be based on your income, probably similar to how a conventional savings or investment vehicle would return. These calculations would be what I want to know more about, and I would approach them come under a veil of skepticism. It seems to me that beyond a certain amount, maybe one simply does not need social security, and maybe that should be factored in. That's probably where the $105,000-odd figure comes from. But, naively, it seems that folks over a certain amount should only see social security as a tax, not as an "investment" that will be returned.

OG_slinger wrote:
I simply don't understand how you think that reforming Social Security would make it more complicated and exploitable.

Distrust more than anything. "Reform" has become more of a buzzword than a tool, and most anytime Congress says they're reforming something, you can bet it's not going to improve the way we think it should, often the opposite. "Copyright reform" ten years ago is an example, but I digress.

OG_slinger wrote:
We can delay when you can get benefits to 65 or 68, even.

Ah, not, anying but that! Someone posted a nice link a little while ago about how counterproductive it would be to raise the benefits age.

So again, thanks for the wonderful post and analysis.

* and nice avatar and tag! May the schwartz be with you.

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jdzappa wrote:
I keep seeing breaking updates on the budget talks but haven't seen much about defense cuts.While I'm a bit of a hawk, I'd still love to see a concerted effort to close down bases in places like Japan, England or Germany where our presence is no longer needed. Defense doesn't seem to be a big topic in the current talks though, except of course for handwringing about sequestration.

As a subscriber to a Military Times newspaper, I am receiving constant emails with news summaries of what the Pentagon bean counters are doing, as well as coverage of Congress from the DOD-interested perspective. I actually haven't paid close attention to it, but from what I can tell, they've mostly concentrated on proposing the most superficial means like limiting access to treatment facilities, reducing or eliminating the operation of PXs, etc. In short, anything other than impacting the operational readiness of combat forces in the immediate term. While soldier pay and positions are protected from sequestration cuts, the rest of the defense budget is not, so it will have its greatest effect in contracts, both for ongoing support (e.g. contracted trainers) and R&D. I live in an area that will be quite, quite affected if this happens since every corporation in the military-industrial complex has at least one office here. What it overall means I don't think anyone publicly has explained, though. Oh, and make sure when looking into this that you understand that the next several years' budgets do call for reducing the sizes of our force,s, both active duty and the reserve forces. This was preplanned to coincide with the reduction of forces in southwest Asia, so is not directly tied to the sequestration / fiscal cliff problems.

At the heart of your comment, "bases in places like Japan, England or Germany where our presence is no longer needed" lies possibly a misunderstanding of why we have forces there. Those bases are far more necessary from a strategic perspective than what is talked about daily in the media. Essentially, they serve two purposes: they are logistical hubs, from which the US as the sole superpower can project overwhelming force, but more importantly, they are our colossi. By that, I mean that the foreign affairs-type folks believe that our military having such international exposure is by itself a deterrent. There being a combat center in Germany, a bunch of Air Force and Marine forces in Japan, etc. and all over the world, it is believed, by itself prevents other countries from attempting to do as Saddam did with Kuwait. Do we want us to be the world's crisis deterrent or do we want China and/or Russia and/or others doing that instead? Whether the deterrence is effective and whether that is worth the cost would be quite lively discussions. There are plenty of other advantages and benefits from an internationally positioned military but I don't want to get too far down the rabbit hole here.

CheezePavilion wrote:
tl;dr: my understanding is that the lock box wouldn't have made the trust fund any more well funded, it just would have meant it was funded with cash and not government bonds.

Yes and considering the interest rates on the bonds its worth it for the gov't to just pay it with debt.. I am just using that as an example where there was a clear choice and people decided nah lets go for the tax cut guy.

Not like Gore was a peach anyway.

Mayfield wrote:
Not like Gore was a peach anyway. :)

No, but I would wager our finances now would be in a hell of a lot better condition if we hadn't have to deal with eight years of Mr. Let's-Fight-Two-Wars-On-Our-Chinese-Credit-Card-And-Then-Pass-$1-Trillion-In-Tax-Cuts-We-Can't-Really-Afford-And-Then-Top-It-Off-With-The-Most-Costly-Modification-To-Medicare-Ever.

You'd start lots of fights too if your name was that hyphenated.

Vector wrote:
You'd start lots of fights too if your name was that hyphenated.

It also wouldn't have fit on any ballot.

I would also add that Social Security, for the period in which the Baby Boomers were/are working, was/is cashflow positive. In fact the bonds that Social Security purchased pretty much funded large parts of the operation of the government for the last 40 years. This was because the bulge in population was contributing at a greater rate than folks were retiring.

If we take this into account and actually honor the guaranteed government bonds Social Security was issued, the problem is a lot less acute. And there is no reason to believe that the government won't honor them unless Congress continues with this asinine debt ceiling fiction.

This was pretty much the message Gore was talking about with the whole Social Security lockbox business that no one in America could seem to understand. And Bush got (sortof) elected on the message of giving this "surplus" away to the top 1% of income earners.

Here are the nuts and bolts of the different budget deals currently on the table.

Paleocon wrote:
Here are the nuts and bolts of the different budget deals currently on the table.

About what I guessed from reading other sources.

Obama has appealed to average citizens about the budget, now he's appealing to business leaders.

In his remarks today, Mr. Obama attempted to win the Business Roundtable to his side of the political argument, outlining his opposition to the GOP proposal and essentially accusing Republicans of holding the global economy hostage.

"I am passionately rooting for your success, because if the companies in this room are doing well, then small businesses and medium-sized businesses up and down the chain are doing well," he said. "Obviously the global economy is still soft. Europe is going to be in the doldrums for quite some time... Everybody's looking to America because they understand that if we're able to put forward a long-term agenda for growth and prosperity that's broad based here in the U.S., that confidence will increase not just here in the U.S. but will increase globally."

But, he argued, "what's holding us back [from that goal] right now, ironically, is a lot of stuff that is going on in this town. And I know that many of you have come down here to try to see, is there a way that we can break through that logjam."

And this part still makes my brain hurt.

"The revenues we are putting on the table are going to come from, guess who? The rich," said Boehner. "There are ways to limit reductions, close loopholes and have the same people pay more of their money to the federal government without raising taxes, which we believe will harm the economy."

So the Republican position is that making a rich person pay 10,000 more in taxes kills the economy but having them pay 10,000 more by altering tax deductions is fine? I don't think I'm fully understanding the difference here. Of course the fact that the Tea Party wing of the Republican party immediately protested even this modest move doesn't leave me a lot of hope. When you classify absolutely any increase in government revenue as a "tax increase" and you refuse all forms of tax increases it seems the only option they're willing to discuss are spending cuts.

Kehama wrote:
Obama has appealed to average citizens about the budget, now he's appealing to business leaders.

In his remarks today, Mr. Obama attempted to win the Business Roundtable to his side of the political argument, outlining his opposition to the GOP proposal and essentially accusing Republicans of holding the global economy hostage.

"I am passionately rooting for your success, because if the companies in this room are doing well, then small businesses and medium-sized businesses up and down the chain are doing well," he said. "Obviously the global economy is still soft. Europe is going to be in the doldrums for quite some time... Everybody's looking to America because they understand that if we're able to put forward a long-term agenda for growth and prosperity that's broad based here in the U.S., that confidence will increase not just here in the U.S. but will increase globally."

But, he argued, "what's holding us back [from that goal] right now, ironically, is a lot of stuff that is going on in this town. And I know that many of you have come down here to try to see, is there a way that we can break through that logjam."

And this part still makes my brain hurt.

"The revenues we are putting on the table are going to come from, guess who? The rich," said Boehner. "There are ways to limit reductions, close loopholes and have the same people pay more of their money to the federal government without raising taxes, which we believe will harm the economy."

So the Republican position is that making a rich person pay 10,000 more in taxes kills the economy but having them pay 10,000 more by altering tax deductions is fine? I don't think I'm fully understanding the difference here. Of course the fact that the Tea Party wing of the Republican party immediately protested even this modest move doesn't leave me a lot of hope. When you classify absolutely any increase in government revenue as a "tax increase" and you refuse all forms of tax increases it seems the only option they're willing to discuss are spending cuts.

All of that is mealymouthed lying though. The fact of the matter is that Boehner's plan soaks the middle class in favor of tax cuts for the rich. Play around with the interactive app at the bottom of the link I posted above.

According to this, I don't get particularly hosed by either the GOP or Dem proposals...but both are worse than 2012, and WAY WAY better than the fiscal cliff.

So the Republican position is that making a rich person pay 10,000 more in taxes kills the economy but having them pay 10,000 more by altering tax deductions is fine? I don't think I'm fully understanding the difference here.

Because there really isn't one? Either way the rich are paying $10,000 more in taxes in your hypothetical. They're trying to say HOW they pay for that is somehow going to make the difference. Either way, they have $10,000 less after taxes, soooo... yeah, no difference.

The point being made by a lot of people, like Paleocon and his sources, is that the "loopholes" and deductions they are proposing we cut, again, are things that middle class families rely on more than the rich. So yes, they could affect the rich, except they want more tax cuts for the highest bracket again... but they will certainly affect the middle class too.

Demosthenes wrote:
So the Republican position is that making a rich person pay 10,000 more in taxes kills the economy but having them pay 10,000 more by altering tax deductions is fine? I don't think I'm fully understanding the difference here.

Because there really isn't one? Either way the rich are paying $10,000 more in taxes in your hypothetical. They're trying to say HOW they pay for that is somehow going to make the difference. Either way, they have $10,000 less after taxes, soooo... yeah, no difference.

The point being made by a lot of people, like Paleocon and his sources, is that the "loopholes" and deductions they are proposing we cut, again, are things that middle class families rely on more than the rich. So yes, they could affect the rich, except they want more tax cuts for the highest bracket again... but they will certainly affect the middle class too.

It's the bait and switch. They say that the rich will pay more, but when you look at the numbers, they don't add up. It is the same soaking the middle class nonsense (euphemistically called ""broadening the base") we have seen for the last 30 years. Along with this is the same Laffer Slope nonsense that cutting rich people's taxes will improve the economy to the point that they will end up paying more in taxes.

In short....

Thats the first time the Simpsons has made me laugh in like a decade!

Looks like the battle between the GOP leadership and the Tea Party is on like Donkey Kong.

What happened was that the GOP leadership decided to strip four Tea Party darlings of their spots on the powerful House Budget Committee and House Financial Services Committee. The details are somewhat hazy, but the general consensus is that those four lawmakers got the boot because of their "voting patterns" on key issues, such as last year's debt deal and the GOP budget (most of the deposed lawmakers voted against wishes of the GOP leadership because they wanted even deeper cuts and less spending).

This move, of course, royally pissed off the conservative blogosphere, who soon began calling for true conservatives to join together to dispose Boehner from his position as Speaker of the House. This was backed by conservative groups like the American Majority Action, who started the hashtag #FireBoehner yesterday. Their plan is to get 16 Republicans to abstain from voting to reelect Boehner has House Speaker next year, which would leave him one vote shy of the 218 he needs to remain Speaker.

Boehner responded today by warning House Republicans that the GOP leadership was "watching" how they voted and that more committee assignments would be yanked if they didn't toe the party line.

Also, Jim DeMint just retired from his seat 2 years into his term in order to run the Heritage Foundation. http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2...

OG_slinger wrote:
Looks like the battle between the GOP leadership and the Tea Party is on like Donkey Kong.

What happened was that the GOP leadership decided to strip four Tea Party darlings of their spots on the powerful House Budget Committee and House Financial Services Committee. The details are somewhat hazy, but the general consensus is that those four lawmakers got the boot because of their "voting patterns" on key issues, such as last year's debt deal and the GOP budget (most of the deposed lawmakers voted against wishes of the GOP leadership because they wanted even deeper cuts and less spending).

This move, of course, royally pissed off the conservative blogosphere, who soon began calling for true conservatives to join together to dispose Boehner from his position as Speaker of the House. This was backed by conservative groups like the American Majority Action, who started the hashtag #FireBoehner yesterday. Their plan is to get 16 Republicans to abstain from voting to reelect Boehner has House Speaker next year, which would leave him one vote shy of the 218 he needs to remain Speaker.

Boehner responded today by warning House Republicans that the GOP leadership was "watching" how they voted and that more committee assignments would be yanked if they didn't toe the party line.

I like seeing that circular firing squads aren't just a Democrat thing.

OG_slinger wrote:
Looks like the battle between the GOP leadership and the Tea Party is on like Donkey Kong.

What happened was that the GOP leadership decided to strip four Tea Party darlings of their spots on the powerful House Budget Committee and House Financial Services Committee. The details are somewhat hazy, but the general consensus is that those four lawmakers got the boot because of their "voting patterns" on key issues, such as last year's debt deal and the GOP budget (most of the deposed lawmakers voted against wishes of the GOP leadership because they wanted even deeper cuts and less spending).

This move, of course, royally pissed off the conservative blogosphere, who soon began calling for true conservatives to join together to dispose Boehner from his position as Speaker of the House. This was backed by conservative groups like the American Majority Action, who started the hashtag #FireBoehner yesterday. Their plan is to get 16 Republicans to abstain from voting to reelect Boehner has House Speaker next year, which would leave him one vote shy of the 218 he needs to remain Speaker.

Boehner responded today by warning House Republicans that the GOP leadership was "watching" how they voted and that more committee assignments would be yanked if they didn't toe the party line.

"Oh no, all these whackos we used to hide the fact the GOP isn't really conservative want to do things now! Call security to throw the riff-raff out!"

"Sir, we gave them most of the security jobs."

"Oh, dear. Well, threaten them with disapproval from the establishment! That will certainly wither their resolve and not act like the exact sort of thing they thrive on to support their idealized self-image as rebels!"

OG_slinger wrote:
Their plan is to get 16 Republicans to abstain from voting to reelect Boehner has House Speaker next year, which would leave him one vote shy of the 218 he needs to remain Speaker.

And Nancy Pelosi will cast the winning vote to Boehner, ensuring many lols will be had.

Looks like the next shot's been fired in the circular squad:
http://livewire.talkingpointsmemo.co...

I always got the impression that the Tea Party felt that the Federal government should only exist to fund the military and that everything else should be left up to the states but I didn't think they'd actually try to run the wheels off the government once they were in office. I know a lot of people predicted the Tea Partiers were just a nice little diversion and that once they took office they'd be converted to a regular ol' Republican but it looks like that hasn't happened in all cases.

I've been predicting that since the Tea Party surge in 2010. Apparently I was a little wrong and threatening and voting no to anything from President Obama was enough to keep the Tea Party Republicans and the human Republicans from tearing each others' eyes out, at least until now. Now finally we have four parties instead of three: liberal Democrats, conservative Democrats, responsible Republicans, and now Tea Party Republicans. If my predictions hold, then in another two years the traditional Democrats and Republicans will lock the conservative Democrats and Tea Party Republicans in the attic and go and do good things together.

Jesting aside, I'm supportive of some Tea Party goals such as balancing the budget, reducing the impact of the government on individual liberty, etc. But they are imbecilic when it comes to compromise and looking at the big picture, and many are quite naive in other goals like wanting to eliminate the Dept of Energy (don't they know what it really does?) and other critical functions.

Intrusive government must be stopped! Unless it's encouraging traditional family values then intrude away.