Several statements by Richard Cohen in his Aug. 2 op-ed, “Why I envy the Tea Party,” bear comment.
First, as happens too often, Mr. Cohen mistook Republicans who believe in the principles espoused by Tea Party activists as being Tea Party members, which they are not. “Tea Party” is still little more than a term used to describe loosely connected groups from around the country that oppose what they see as an overly intrusive, profligate federal government.
Second, Mr. Cohen likened congressional Republicans who agree with Tea Party fiscal views to a totalitarian movement out to destroy government from within. He decried their use of political power to oppose . . . political power. This odd formulation implies that any group of elected representatives holding a minority view is obliged to refrain from exercising their right to oppose the majority.
Lastly, Mr. Cohen accused Tea Party sympathizers of having “recklessly diminished the power and reach of the United States” by shrinking government and trying to “deprive it of revenue.” Mr. Cohen did not note that under the budget agreement, spending will grow enough to add $7 trillion to the federal debt in the next decade. That, according to Mr. Cohen, is apparently insufficient to keep the United States afloat as an international power.
Paul W. Rankin, Brookeville
Richard Cohen fretted that Tea Party activists have “shrunk the government.” He need not worry. Federal spending has gone from $2.9 trillion in 2008 to $3.8 trillion in 2011. Thirty percent spending growth in three years is hardly shrinkage. Even under the Boehner plan, federal spending will continue to increase every year for at least the next decade.
Meanwhile, federal agencies continue to finalize more than 3,500 new regulations per year. They repeal almost none, no matter how loud the Tea Party’s howls.
If anything, Tea Party activists have been devastatingly ineffective at shrinking government. Mr. Cohen can rest easy.
Ryan Young, Washington
The writer is a fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.