George Graham

The Curious Logic of Tea Party Economics

Of course I know that all Tea Party folks don’t think alike. I realize that the movement is basically a marriage of opposites – people who want to tell others how to run their lives and people who want to be left alone.

But a common theme is emerging that illustrates the sorry level of logic both these groups are able to achieve.

I’m talking about the twin peaks of their economic agenda: slashing taxes for corporations and the rich while reducing the deficit and balancing the budget.

I must be missing something here.

Do they really believe that reducing the government’s revenue will eliminate the government’s debt?

Here’s Florida Governor Rick Scott (photo above), a Tea Party darling, on that topic:

We still have ridiculously high taxes. We’re walking into a $1.6 trillion deficit.

In Florida, he wants to give corporations a free ride as far as taxes are concerned. He is also refusing to accept federal funds for a high-speed rail project that would generate thousands of jobs and fuel development in Central Florida – a project that would produce a robust revenue stream for the state.

To make up for this – and to help Florida balance its budget – the newly elected governor is laying off thousands of government workers and choking off funds to municipalities and schools (which are mandated by a recently passed constitutional amendment to limit class size) . He also plans to Scrooge the sick and the poor.

And he hopes to bust the unions. Here’s how he put it in a TV interview:

If you didn’t have collective bargaining, would it be better for the state? Absolutely.

Let’s see. Wipe out the unions. Cut taxes for Big Business. Underfund education. Starve the kids. Let the sick get sicker and – untreated – spread disease. Force the poor to resort to crime to feed their families. Meanwhile, he also plans to close the prisons he is going to need.

This is a prescription for a prosperous society?

This bozo is supposed to be a shrewd businessman. He was CEO of a health care company that stole millions from Medicare. Is that smart or what? Especially since they were caught with their fingers in the till.

Is there no light of intelligence behind those opaque eyes?

Can’t he figure out that by laying off workers he will – hello! – increase unemployment? Doesn’t he understand that the unemployed won’t be able to buy stuff? And what does he think that will do to sales taxes?

And by undermining education, doesn’t he realize he will be sabotaging the work force?  How will the state provide skilled workers for the corporations that he plans to attract with his tax cuts and union busting? Won’t companies – especially high-tech operations – locate elsewhere, in an area where an educated workforce is available?

And does he believe the corporate elite will want to live an a state where the roads are potholed and overloaded, where beggars clog the sidewalks and burglars infest the night, where the air is heavy with the stench of disease and suffering, and where there are no decent schools for their children?

So let’s cut those taxes for the rich and for Big Business, Big Oil and the Agribusiness giants. Let’s reduce the standard of living for the rest of us to the level enjoyed in a Third World barrio. And then let’s see how many rich people want to spend their tax breaks in such a society.

My bet is that they will take the tax-break money and spend it someplace where the living is pleasant.

I know I would.

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