Less than two months after electing what they would hope will be an army of deficit hawks, New York’s Tea Party activists are fuming that the current Congress approved another round budget-busting stimulus in yesterday’s deal to extend the Bush-era tax cuts.
“My objections are that it’s too expensive, not because the continuation of the tax cut, but because of the spending and the earmarks attached,” said Frank Santarpia, the founder of the Staten Island Tea Party of the $857 billion bill, which includes a 13-month extension of unemployment benefits. “There’s money in there for racetrack owners, for Puerto Rican rum owners; there’s a great deal of pork attached to the tax compromise.”
David Webb, founder of Manhattan-based TeaParty365, agreed, saying that the House Republicans should have waited out the lame duck session in order to get what they really want.
“They have the ball on the goal line–January 4–and instead they go into this compromise with the President, with extending stimulus programs that would have expired on December 31, with a 13 month extension of unemployment benefits,” Webb said.
He added: “The extension of the tax cuts is a cost factor, it adds to the deficit, but if you have it as a clear extension that historically shows that it spurs economic growth, it will help people hire again: it starts moving the economy forward, and in the short term that investment in deficit spending will be returned more than that.”
Brooklyn Tea Party founder Dr. John Press said that the tax deal was just an example of an unchanged Washington.
“They’re still giving people things!” Press said. “Giving people tax cuts aren’t tough decisions. They’re still in demagoguery mode. They think that they get elected by giving people things. To pass a tax rebate isn’t hard.”
Newly-elected members of Congress, many of whom were bolstered by the Tea Party, have had to do a delicate dance around the question of whether or not they would support the bill.
“It’s probably one of the toughest votes those who have recently taken office will have to take,” newly elected Congressman Michael Grimm said on WNYC. “People are going to have to break their promises. The way I look at it, nobody’s winning in this situation. I don’t want to raise the deficit, I don’t want to take money out of Social Security, I don’t think that we should be extending Social Security benefits without paying for it.”
Grimm said however that he would have been a reluctant “yes” vote for the deal.
Nan Hayworth, who represents the Hudson Valley, said that she would have voted against the bill.
“This bill contains additional spending with no compensatory spending reduction and we really do need to exert spending discipline,” Congresswoman-elect Nan Hayworth told The Observer on Wednesday.
Hayworth intimated that the issue could be taken up again when the next Congress is sworn in in January.
“I am one of a number of voices who are expressing the desire to readdress this issue more cleanly and directly,” she said.