In the wake of the Great Recession, the Tea Party emerged as one of the most powerful political movements in recent memory. Whereas the Occupy Wall Street movement made headlines and noise for a few short years before fizzling out, the Tea Party endured and helped several Republican politicians win seats in Congress and state Houses.
For quite some time, the Tea Party kept the Republican Party focused on debt and government spending. Tea Party advocates long warned that exploding public debt was a threat to America as a nation and it seemed like many politicians were listening to their influence.
But this past Monday, President Donald Trump and key Republican and Democratic leaders reached a budget deal that would largely undo the spending constraints that Tea Party Republicans had forced Congress to adopt back in 2011. The spending restrictions had been perhaps the most significant policy achievement of the Tea Party.
With those constraints being relegated to the trash bin, it’s fair to question if the Tea Party itself has lost its influence. Or perhaps Donald Trump’s victory in the Republican Primary and then 2016 Presidential race marked the end of the Tea Party era. After all, while many Republicans continued to beat the fiscal conservatism drum, President Trump made it clear that he didn’t care much about debt and deficits.