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Tea Party Declines as Economy Recovers

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A good three years have passed since the unique ideology of the Tea Party took politics by storm. In that same time, the U.S. economy has slowly but surely started to recover from the financial pitfalls that ensnared it, causing the great recession of 2007-2009.

There are two sides to this story. Throughout history, it has been clear that in tough political times, societies are more susceptible to other, more extreme types of influence. Paul Krugman, a Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times op-ed columnist, explores this notion in his new book End This Depression Now. Such phenomena explain Adolf Hitler’s rise to power during Germany’s economic struggle, and, in a less extreme but still relevant circumstance, the Tea Party’s growing prominence near the end of the recent American recession. In times of struggle, people may become more susceptible to new political ideologies in the hopes that something different will bring change.

So with that being said, now that the national economy is no longer in as bad of shape as it was three or four years ago, has the Tea Party’s fading relevance played any role in the country’s economic recovery?

Ohio University economics professor Rosemary Rossiter doesn’t think so, especially given that the Tea Party’s emphasis on free markets has always had strong support among Americans of all political ideologies.

“I don’t think [the Tea Party is] going to have much of an effect [on economic recovery]. There’s always been strong support for free markets especially when they’re appropriate. But I don’t think there’s going to be any kind of backlash where people are coming out against free markets,” Rossiter said.

On the other hand, some economists would argue that the Tea Party’s economic platform could be detrimental to the United States, and that the movement’s fading relevance is a good sign for American economics. Economist Warren Mosler, a self-described “former Tea Party Democrat,” has even gone so far as to say that the Tea Party’s economic platform could cause the next great depression or recession.

“Their proposals to balance the budget are the same suicidal policies that caused the six horrible depressions in the U.S. over the past 200 years. At the worst possible time to take money out of the economy, the Tea Party’s proposals would remove an estimated $1 trillion and cause the worst depression in world history, destroying tens of millions of jobs and ruining our children’s future,” Mosler has written.

Rossiter agreed with Mosler and said that a Keynesian economic model, one that promotes government spending to stimulate the economy, is what the United States needs to follow in order to keep recovering.

“If what [the Tea Party wants] are massive cuts in government spending at this time when the economy is just starting to recover, then I’d say that’s the wrong thing to do,” Rossiter said.

She went on to say that in order for the economy to completely recover, Republicans need to revert to their more traditional economic policies of around 20 or 30 years ago, which would make it easier for Democrats and the GOP to work out a solution.

“If the traditional Republican Party would go back to traditional Republican policy that’s not bad. Democrats could work with traditional Republicans and then we could have some kind of outcomes,” she said. “But if Republicans want to go with this Tea Party [ideology], that you have to reduce the deficit, there’s no way they’re going to agree to bring in any more revenues. If that’s the legacy of the Tea Party, then that’s sad. That’s unfortunate.”

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