There’s a reason that most sound bites in the news are less than seven seconds long; in the modern media, that’s considered the limit of the typical viewer’s attention span.
Ditto for political slogans and memes. It’s easy for someone to say, for example, “Tom Emmer’s opposition to gay marriage means he hates gays” – it’s a simple little line that takes mere seconds to ingrain itself into the minds of the susceptible; un-ingraining it takes long, detailed, attention-span-burning minutes to debunk.
The budget battle is one of those things.
The Tea Party was based – as it should have been – around a couple of simple but vital ideas; cut spending, reduce taxes, reduce the size of government.
It was those ideas that, as a matter of fact, won the Novembe 2010 election for the GOP.
Now, there are a lot of conservatives complaining that the GOP – in Saint Paul and in DC – have lost the way lit by those simple directions.
The complicated answer: we only control the House of Representatives in Washington; any legislation favorite by the Tea Party needs to pass a hostile Senate and a president who, if he shows up for work, will veto it if it’s too far outside his comfort zone. Much as it irritates Tea Partiers, it’s taken some old-fashioned politics to get things this far.
In fact, the complicated part is that last week’s budget wasn’t really “the budget”; the debate was over, and the cuts were to, the discrtionary spending budget, which is a small fraction of the government’s multi-trillion dollar behemoth. The bad news: the GOP had to hold off on some cuts. The good news? Commitments to up-or-down votes that’ll be useful in next year’s campaign to take the Senate. Because without the Senate and, hopefully, the Presidency, real reform is costly-to-impossible.
So the just-shy-of-$40 bilion of cuts were to a small fracion of the budget. Now – things will heat up with the introduction of Rep. Ryan’s plan to reform non-discretionary spending in a little bit here. That’s where the real money is.
The real points are these:
- Until conservatives control the government, some compromise is inevitable. That’s why we warned you after the last election – the work has really only begun; we have to take the Senate. And keep it.
- No one single vote is going to be the litmus test of reform. It’s a process. Processes are boing, and they take years, and in the long run that’s a good thing. Of course, we’re worried if there’s going to be a “long run”.
- The media knows this. They will use the time it’s taking as a wedge to try to drive the Tea Party away from the GOP. Expect a raft of “Tea Partiers fret that things are just going too slow” manufactured outrage in coming weeks.
All the more reason the Tea Party rallies this weekend are so vital.