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Sanders: Tea Partiers Work to Dems’ Advantage

For Republicans in Washington trying to latch onto the small-government momentum of the Tea Party movement, there’s this little glitch: Their very jobs depend on the same big spending in Washington that the Tea Partiers claim to oppose.

Recall, for example, the GOP outcry when the Democrats proposed to trim some payments (many say overpayments) to the private insurance companies that cover Medicare patients. Or the reaction when the White House proposed to cut a defense project from Sen. Richard Shelby’s (R) Alabama. The message is clear: Republican leaders might defend the virtues of smaller government in theory, but if it threatens popular programs or jobs in their districts, they suddenly don’t want to see that theory realized. Particularly in an election year.

That conflict of ideology hasn’t been lost on Sen. Bernie Sanders. The Vermont Independent, who caucuses with the Democrats, pointed out yesterday that a Tea Party takeover of the Republican Party would be “extraordinarily good for the Democrats.”

“When you analyze and you go beyond the rhetoric,” Sanders told CNN’s Joy Behar, ”what you find out is that these guys want to abolish Medicare and Social Security and Medicaid and the Veterans’ Administration. There really is not a whole lot of policy substance to what they are saying.

“When the American people learn that behind the anger there’s not a whole lot to be said, I think it works to the Democrats’ advantage.”

Sanders argues that the source of the public’s anger isn’t government spending, but a decades-long trend of of middle-class jobs moving overseas for the sake of corporate profits — the trickle-down theory of corporate protection that hasn’t quite trickled down to many working-class folks.

“People in this country, especially men, are extremely angry because the middle class is in the process of collapsing,” Sanders said. “You have guys who are working 40, 50, 60 hours a week, and they’re making less money than they did 10 or 20 years ago. What they are perceiving is there is a gap between the very rich and everybody else. Their jobs are going to China and they are angry.”

Sanders isn’t the only one to call out the GOP recently on their claims of small-government advocacy. Last week, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman also took the Republicans to task, arguing that the GOP tax cuts of the last decade have produced the inevitable deficits that were designed to shrink government.

“The beast is starving, as planned,” Krugman wrote. “It should be time, then, for conservatives to explain which parts of the beast they want to cut.”

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