There may have been more hope than conviction in U.S. Harry Reid‘s speech this morning at the first day of Project New West’s Las Vegas summit. There, Reid declared, “the bloom is off the tea party.”
According to Reid, independents and even Republicans are rejecting the tea party movement, which formed in the closing days of the George W. Bush administration in reaction to federal bailouts of big banks in the wake of the financial crisis.
Just before he dropped the tea party line, Reid noted voters had rejected “extremism” in Washington state, by re-electing Democrat Patty Murray, and in Colorado, by electing Michael Bennet to the Senate seat he’d been appointed to in 2009. “And in Nevada I showed extremism wouldn’t work,” said Reid, who defeated tea party darling Sharron Angle handily last year.
OK, but here’s the thing: Angle may have been supported by the tea party, but she is not the tea party. The issues that animate the tea party — bailouts for big banks and automobile companies, the stimulus spending, national debt and budget deficits — are still around. Arguments over spending and budget cuts are still going strong. And as long as that’s happening, it’s probably premature to say the tea party is in decline.
Reid has previously said the tea party was a creation of the bad economy, and as soon as economic conditions improve, it will disappear. But even under that standard, the tea party is going strong: Unemployment is still high nationally, consumer confidence is still low and stock markets are still nervously watching the European struggles with deficits and debt.
Any way you slice it, even if the bloom is off the tea party rose, it’s still not dead just yet.
Tags: Harry Reid