Partly by way of a response to Graham
So far as I can tell, whilst it has its fair share of nutters and cranks, the Tea Party is motivated by fiscal conservatism & a desire for small government – which is pretty mainstream in US politics (some 17% of tea partiers are registered Democrats; only 57% are registered Republicans). They can be as antagonistic to establishment Republicanism (eg the CBC) as to Obama, and seem to mainly want to get the US government to rein back on spending. Which is also pretty reasonable.
The only question might be a prudential one – is now the right time to cut back on state spending, in the midst of recession etc (same question as in UK politics)? My perspective is that this question assumes that the recession is temporary, and relies on the return of growth to escape the consequences of more indebtedness. If you don’t believe that we will ever go back to having growth in the same way again – as I don’t – then continuing to build up huge debt is a really really bad idea. We can still debate about where and how to cut the spending, but that spending does need to be cut, and cut significantly, that seems straightforward to me.