Three-term GOP Senator Robert Bennett of Utah was defeated in a pre-primary state party caucus on Saturday, a defeat being blamed on anti-incumbent sentiment and Bennett's "liberalism" – Utah Republican Mormons being the liberal firebrands they are. In particular, the state's small but vocal contingent of TeaTards was irate over Bennett's vote for TARP:
"I don't think it's a matter of conservative. I think it's a matter of fiscal or financial responsibility, what the Tea Party people are about and the vote for TARP and the vote for the bailout was, in our opinion, pretty fiscally irresponsible and that's what's raised the ire of most people," David Kirkham, a Tea Party activist, told CNN in an interview.
These are bedrock TeaTard talking points. "Fiscal responsibility" mandates an all-encompassing hatred of the stimulus package, TARP, and all other financial crisis-related spending over the past two years. But surely they are happy about the chance to (finally) live in a stimulus-free world, as FY2010 is rapidly coming to a close and there are no existing or foreseeable plans to renew the massive distribution of Federal funds at the state and local levels. In a world in which cuts to the military budget are being discussed openly, you can bet the house (in the unlikely event that you still own it) on Congress rejecting any follow-up stimulus proposal.
We are all getting used to the fact that our respective states – especially, but not limited to, places like California, Illinois, Georgia, Virginia, and Michigan – had a pretty miserable time with their budgets in FY2010. Now, as we approach the 7/1/2010 start of the stimulus-free fiscal year, we will soon be looking back on 2009 as the good ol' days. Take a look at this summary list of proposed austerity measures being considered in state capitols around the country. We've all watched the financial disaster in Greece unfold with an unusually high level of interest here in the States. Rarely do we concern ourselves with the domestic politics of foreign countries. But we have been entranced by Greece's meltdown, probably because we know without saying it that the same thing will happen here before long. And it will be sooner than many of us imagine at the state level.
Next year's state and local budgets are going to see the kind of triage solution applied in Greece – 10, 15, or 20 percent across-the-board cuts. Other states will reject that tactic and make Tough Choicestm, meaning they will focus all of the damage on things used by the unwashed masses – public education, transit, Medicare, CHIP, and a grab-bag of other programs that aren't useful to suburbanites and thus politically expendable.
To steal a phrase from George W., our reaction to this impending budgetary armaggeddon is "uniquely American." The Greeks rioted; we applaud. They demanded fewer cuts; we demand more. They understand the relationship between social spending and their standard of living; we don't. They realize how much worse things are about to get; we seem to think that recovery might be around the corner.