In the midst of the scandal over the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) unconstitutional and likely criminal targeting of Tea Party and other conservative groups, the Wall Street Journal released some fascinating data about the comparative performance of the U.S. and European economies. Both fell and rose at roughly the same pace from 2008 to early 2011. But beginning in early 2011, they diverge sharply, with the U.S. continuing to recover slowly and the Euro zone falling back into a decline.
The timing of the split is no coincidence.
Early 2011 is when the Tea Party-backed Republican majority officially took the House of Representatives. And though the Tea Party was maligned by the media, lost some of its political momentum, and failed to reach many of its own ambitious goals, it imposed a modicum of discipline on Washington that created much-needed economic stability.
Most significantly, the Tea Party ensured that there would be no more bailouts--especially of profligate "blue" states; no large tax increases; and no new major regulations by Congress.
As the Journal points out elsewhere, Europe has failed to introduce pro-growth reforms--and "if borrowing money for the government to spend on "growth" worked, Europe wouldn't be in this mess." Europe represents what happens if spending its left unchecked for too long.
The U.S. has not experienced anything like "austerity," either. Congress has even continued to raise spending modestly, wile raising the debt ceiling and passing a small income tax increase in the "fiscal cliff" debacle in early January.
Yet the Tea Party has pushed the Republican caucus to enforce some boundaries around the profligacy that began well before the financial crisis and bailouts of late 2008 and reached a fever pitch under former Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a time when Democrats controlled both sides of Capitol Hill.