There are a lot of things I like about the Tea Party movement. Its commitment to the Constitution is chief among them. I especially like how seriously this movement views itself and the policy stances it stakes on behalf of average, everyday taxpayers.
Yet it is for this same reason that I believe Tea Party leaders should be wary of some of the party's stances when it comes to specifics.
For example, the Republican Party is taking a lot of cheap shots for its Pledge to America by activists who claim it’s a hollow shell of recycled initiatives, weak on any policy with teeth. Conservative skeptics point to "serious" proposals that would gut entire federal agencies such as the Department of Education, the Department of Commerce and even the National Endowment for the Arts.
But let’s be honest, this last one is not really a serious example of federal largesse. By the agency’s own fiscal 2010 budget submission, it only asked for $161 million. Now, that’s hardly change one would find in between sofa cushions, but in real values, it’s a drop in the ocean of red ink this government is swimming in.
My point is simple. If Tea Party activists want to send an unequivocal statement that the federal government has grown too large, and only by making bold and sometimes “to the bone” cuts will we return to fiscal balance, then leaders are better off leaving NEA funding off the policy table. It only complicates the larger picture of entitlement spending new lawmakers should focus on.
While I understand the rhetorical value of railing against such a mindless social program, it doesn’t necessarily lend itself to serious, heady discussions concerning spending Washington must be forced to have in the 2011 Congress.

Armstrong Williams is on Sirius/XM Power 169, 7-8 p.m. and 4-5 a.m., Monday through Friday. Become a fan on Facebook at, and follow him on Twitter at