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Tea Party leader: What we want

By Phillip Dennis, Special to CNN
  • Phillip Dennis: Eliminate Education and Agriculture departments, the EPA, the stimulus bill
  • Dennis: Government jobs must be substantially cut; employees sent to the private sector
  • Tea Party wants welfare and unemployment benefits drastically cut, he says
  • Take a chainsaw to government, get it out of the private sector, Dennis writes

Editor's note: Phillip Dennis is the founder of the Dallas Tea Party and the Texas state coordinator for Tea Party Patriots, a member of the Board of Directors of the Leadership Tea Party and an adviser to the National Tea Party Coalition.

Dallas, Texas (CNN) -- The modern Tea Party movement began on February 27, 2009, when small groups in 22 American cities gathered to protest the signing of President Obama's stimulus bill.

The Tea Party groups viewed the stimulus bill as the crowning moment of decades of irresponsible government fiscal behavior. The federal government is addicted to spending, and the consequences are now staring us in the face.

Our national debt is at emergency levels and growing rapidly. Congressional Budget Office head Doug Elmendorf recently said the nation's fiscal path is simply "unsustainable." And yet this financial crisis seems obvious to virtually everyone except our elected officials in Washington.

Tea Party members are not averse to paying taxes. However, taxpayers are stretched thin, and piling more taxes on their backs is not the answer. We do not understand nor approve of Washington's insatiable appetite for spending, because that's not the way we as individuals live. We do not massively overspend today and borrow money tomorrow to cover the bills. As California and New York are learning, that ride eventually comes to an end.

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This week, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said, "To avoid large and unsustainable budget deficits, the nation will ultimately have to choose among higher taxes, modifications to entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare, less spending on everything else from education to defense, or some combination of the above."

The Tea Party endorses massive reductions of federal spending before any consideration of new taxes is brought to the table. Tea Party members clearly understand Bernanke's warning. If something drastic is not done soon, our entire financial system and way of life will collapse.

The Tea Party's goal from inception has been to replace big-spending politicians from both political parties with common-sense, fiscally responsible leaders. America has moved away from the vision of our Founding Fathers who advocated for a nuanced balance between federal and state power. As America has drifted from constitutional values, federal power has grown.

We have gone from a nation of self-sufficient producers to a nation divided between overburdened taxpaying producers and some nonproducers who exist on welfare from cradle to grave.

So what would the Tea Party movement recommend to set America on its rightful course?

Federal spending must immediately be drastically slashed across the board: Abolish the useless departments of Education and Agriculture, among others; get rid of the EPA; and repeal the stimulus bill and other pork spending. These are millstones around the neck of the American taxpayer and our economy.

Send all responsibilities of these agencies back to the states where they can be better and more efficiently managed. Foreign aid and Pentagon spending must be equally constrained and reduced.

Second, the number of government jobs must be substantially cut, and those employees must return to the private sector. Overpaid bureaucrats with fat benefits and pensions not found in the real world are simply not needed. Or wanted.

Third, fraud and welfare waste must be eliminated. Welfare and unemployment benefits must be drastically cut.

Welfare, health and education services for illegal immigrants must be eliminated.

The Center for Immigration Studies recently reported that 33 percent of immigrant households use some kind of "welfare." Again, who pays? The American taxpayer!

Government must get completely out of the private sector. Market freedoms must prevail for America to be successful. Government control over our financial and insurance industries, major manufacturing, health care and energy is a sure recipe for disaster.

Washington bureaucrats are simply incapable of efficiency. The Tea Party is determined to send new, fiscally responsible leaders to Washington to trim government fat -- and not with scalpels, but with chainsaws.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Phillip Dennis.