Battle lines It’s the economy, stupid

Published 1:02 am Sunday, October 23, 2011

As the calendar ticks toward the end of 2011 and toward the presidential race for 2012, the battle lines for the future of the country have been drawn. The popular 1990s phrase again is chic: It’s the economy, stupid.

The battle lines are akin to a boxing ring.

In this corner is the Tea Party, a group of mostly white, middle-class working people incensed at the excesses of the federal government. The Tea Party —branded racist and “astroturf” from liberal-leaning pundits and national media — stands for Taxed Enough Already. Their ire is directed at a federal government that is spending far beyond its means. National debt, unfunded future liabilities and deficit spending nearing 40 percent — the amount the government spends over what it takes in — drove the Tea Party movement.

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Landslide elections in November 2010 swept many Tea Party-leaning fiscal conservatives into the House, giving the Republicans a majority after Democrats had controlled the House, Senate and the White House since Jan. 20, 2009. The Tea Party message was simple: Live within your means, stop taxing the producers to death and end the march toward a nanny state where the government is the solution to every problem.

Nearly 20 percent of Americans are on some sort of federal assistance, a direct affront to the tenets of the Tea Party. The party believes in individual liberties and the ability to succeed or fail in any endeavor. They want the overreaching arm of the federal government to back away.

In the other corner are the Occupy Wall Street protesters, self-described as the 99 percent of Americans not in the highest of tax brackets. Their ire is directed at Wall Street and the excesses of the banks. They decry federal bailouts, rail against huge employee bonuses and repeatedly ask the question, “Where is my bailout?”

The OWS protesters believe in a shared society where the haves, through government taxation and redistribution, are responsible for the care and well-being of the have-nots. They believe government’s responsibility is to say when a person has earned enough money.

It should come as no shock that Democrats have gravitated to the OWS protests, while Republicans were drawn to the Tea Party.

In 2012, Americans again will decide the leadership and direction of this country. The Wall Street and Tea Party movements highlight the divide the country is facing.

The choice in 2012 will be simple: Remove the government albatross, or arbitrarily have that government “make things fair for everyone.”

Already, it’s shaping up to be a wild 2012 presidential race.