George Graham

Tea Party Ignorance Proving Expensive to Taxpayers

I doubt that even the most zealous Tea Party insurgent would think it was a good idea for a bunch of untrained passengers to kick the pilot out of the cockpit of their airliner and fly the plane themselves. And I am sure they would not wrest the scalpel from the surgeon’s hand and operate on their own bodies. Yet they are not afraid to grab the reins of global finance without the slightest understanding of it.

These citizen financiers, who in real life are dentists and veterinarians and so on, have been elected to represent the Republican Party in Congress, and are making a mess of things. One of their most expensive blunders is using the budget process to try and blackmail the Obama Administration into accepting their legislative agenda.

They’re making themselves look like a bunch of clowns of course. But that’s not all. They’re also costing taxpayers a bundle.

Ironically proclaiming themselves the champions of fiscal responsibility, they are running up huge bills by shutting down the government and threatening to block the routine legislative process required to pay the nation’s debts.

One consequence of their clumsiness is a sharp spike in the interest rates on US government bonds. Unnerved by the Tea Party chatter about a possible default on America’s debts, investors are dumping short-term Treasury notes, sending interest rates skyrocketing. You and I know that means taxpayers will have to spend more to borrow money to run the country (and pay the interest on funds borrowed in the past). But I am sure these amateur financiers never saw that coming when they marched into Washington intent on slashing government spending.

This is just one example of the high cost that ignorance can have.

There’s no denying that the sleazy pros who have run Washington for generations are a costly burden on the American taxpayer. But the would-be reformers could prove even more expensive. They don’t know what they’re doing and they don’t know that they don’t know.

Ignorance may be bliss to the ignorant but it is a dangerous handicap in trying to manage the world’s most powerful country.

The last thing the world needs is a bunch of ham-handed amateurs playing with its reserve currency, for one thing. And even the billionaires who backed the Tea Party takeover are recognizing that.

The Koch Brothers, who have poured millions into the Tea Party’s mischief, have finally recognized the danger and are backing away from the rebels’ latest threats of mayhem.

I am sure the Tea Party insurgents will find their funds drying up as their shenanigans threaten to send world financial markets into a tailspin. Those right-wing billionaires who have been secretly paying the rebels’ way may be wicked but they aren’t that stupid. They know their own wealth will evaporate rapidly if the Tea Part sabotages the global economy. After all, their money isn’t stacked under their mattresses, it’s invested in stocks and bonds – including the US  Treasury notes that would be plunged into default.

Click to read about the Koch Brothers’ change of heart.

Click for interest rates on Treasury notes.

Click for global implications of debt ceiling crisis.

About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for