The Tea Party members got elected because they thought the government was dysfunctional and the economy was tanking. Then they went out and made sure it happened.
They created the debt ceiling crisis, then handcuffed House Speaker John Boehner's efforts to work out a compromise with the president to fix it. Without their influence, and absolute insistence on holding to a pure ideology that had little basis in reality, we believe the crisis wouldn't have occurred in the first place -- and once it did, Boehner and the president could have worked out a deal that would have gone a lot further in solving the nation's debt problems that the final deal accepted by Congress.
Instead, we got half measures and the promise of a "super commission" to find a solution.
Such a bipartisan commission, created by executive order of the president in 2010, already laid the framework for a fiscally responsible government. Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo was a leading member of that commission. But the commission's work already has been rejected by Congress, largely due to opposition by Crapo's own Republican Party. That does not bode well for any success of the new super commission, meaning the "nuclear option" cuts mandated by the recent debt deal will almost certainly be triggered.
Yet, we believe the Simpson-Bowles commission proposals have considerable merit, requiring what, in the past, would have been only relatively minor negotiations to reach a compromise deal. We believe it still remains the best option put forward so far.
Of course, to make it work, Congress will have to pull its collective heads out of the sand (or some other, less desirable location) and decide that its real job is making things work, not pushing ideological agendas. The last year has not given us great confidence in its ability to do so.
In fact, only 14 percent of the American people approve of the job Congress is doing. We wonder who that 14 percent are? Relatives of Congressmen? That's 14 points higher than it ought to be.
That lack of confidence caused ONE of the three major ratings companies, Standard and Poors, to downgrade the U.S. credit rating for the first time in history. To be honest, S&P doesn't have a great track record recently for its ratings prowess. It gave AAA marks to the credit default swap packages of junk mortgages that triggered the 2008 crisis. It made a $2.1 trillion error in its analysis of the federal debt that led to the downgrade.
But Wall Street, which seems to have even less brains than Congress sometimes, immediately panicked, sending stocks tumbling.
Ironically, while investors bailed out on solid, strong companies in the United States, they ran to put their money in the safest, and most secure investments they could find -- U.S. Treasury notes, which are essentially the federal debt. Go figure.
Congress and Wall Street have once again combined to create an unnecessary economic crisis that will only hurt the little guy on Main Street.
Yet, in our opinion, our country remains essentially sound and secure. The only problem is getting people to believe it, since these days the economy seems to be driven more by psychology than economic reality.
There's plenty of blame to go around. Start with the Tea Party tail wagging the GOP dog. Then add the Congressmen owned by Wall Street that won't do anything to limit the uncontrollable overreach greed of the investment bankers who create their own house of cards, which hurts the little guys most when it comes tumbling down.
Yet behind all the greed of Wall Street and the ideological nonsense of Congress, there remains our nation's greatest strength -- the average American who just wants to go to work. If someone will let him.
If Congress and Wall Street want to make America strong again, if they really care about that (they seem to have other priorities), then they should focus on putting Americans back to work.
Then get out of the way, because it's the working American who'll restore us to greatness again.