The Tea Party and Government Spending.

In a New York Times story over the weekend, Tea Party folks mulled over what would happen if their volunteers started to get jobs again, since so many joined after they lost their jobs during the recession. It becomes clear that the activists were not only upset about being forced into retirement but also their inability to sell their houses or to balance part-time jobs with their new-found activist duties.

But the real story is how many of the Tea Partiers the Times spoke to depended on the government, receiving Social Security and Medicare. Toward the end, one man said he was hoping to get a part-time job with the Census Bureau. There is no real difference between those programs and the health-care bill that just passed, but that doesn't stop these folks from thinking there is:

She and others who receive government benefits like Medicare and Social Security said they paid into those programs, so they are getting what they deserve.

“All I know is government was put here for certain reasons,” Ms. [Diana] Reimer said. “They were not put here to run banks, insurance companies, and health care and automobile companies. They were put here to keep us safe.”

During the campaign, Obama talked about how government works best when it ensures a basic standard for those who fall on hard times. But Republicans were able to successfully draw on the rhetoric of the past 30 years, painting the health-care bill as a government handout for certain people. That's obvious in Reimer's next quote.

She has no patience for the Obama administration’s bailouts and its actions on health care. “I just don’t trust this government,” Ms. Reimer said.

I understand the reluctance to paint all objection to the government as rooted in racism, but it's time to get over that. It's not just that Obama is our first black president. It's also that Republicans have spent the last 30 years equating government spending with handouts to people of color.

-- Monica Potts

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