The Tea Party Comeback

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Tea Party In WashingtonThousands of Tea Party activists will gather Monday at rallies across the nation to mark Tax Day, April 15–and to re-ignite a movement that had been written off as dormant by the media and the political classes.

After propelling the Republican Party to the majority in the House of Representatives in 2010–and likely for the next decade thereafter–the Tea Party seemed to retreat. It failed in its political aim of defeating President Barack Obama in 2012, largely because of its earlier failure to find an alternative nominee to Gov. Mitt Romney. It was tarnished unfairly as racist, extremist, and–especially after the Tuscon shooting of Jan. 2011–violent, and was blamed even by some Republicans for the debt ceiling impasse in mid-2011.

Yet the Tea Party also succeeded in stopping the rapid growth of federal spending and taxation. The Tea Party ensured that there would be no bailouts for profligate states and no large-scale tax increases. Though it had to swallow the tax increases of the “fiscal cliff” deal in the early hours of 2013, it essentially preserved 98% of the Bush-era tax cuts. And by shifting the national debate in favor of deficit reduction, the Tea Party laid the foundation for the budget sequester–a set of across-the-board spending cuts that the American public has largely tolerated, even in the face of President Obama’s attempts to create panic and outrage.

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