Tea Party members are primarily “freaked out white men” who pose the greatest political threat to Democrats in 2012, according to banking analyst Meredith Whitney.
Speaking in the broader context of a discussion on CNBC regarding the Standard & Poor’s downgrade of U.S. debt, Whitney said the dissenters represent the type of problems that have led to the current predicament in Washington.
“Call it Tea Party, whatever you will, the fringe element is I characterize (as) freaked-out white men who are unemployed and have been unemployed for three years and they’re scared to death,” she said. “Three to four million of them are about to roll off unemployment benefits in the next three to four months. This is only going to get worse.”
Democrats looking to hold the White House and regain full control of Congress will need to take note.
“For this reason you have to deal with the structural issues,” Whitney said. “If you are a Machiavellian Democrat you want do deal with this issue and defuse the Tea Party as fast as you possibly can because this poses the biggest threat to their re-election in 2012.”
Her comments come at a turbulent time for markets, which saw a morethan 600-point drop for the Dow industrialson Monday that was followed by a more than 400-point gain on Tuesday.
Economic uncertainty is at the crux of the tumult, with investors caught between crosswinds of debt issues in Europe and the U.S. as well as the threat of rising unemployment.
Whitney said extending unemployment benefits, which already have been pushed to 99 weeks, is not the answer.
“You feel better about yourself when you’re working. Kids feel better about their parents when they’re working. Having a job is more than having a paycheck,” Whitney said. “To push for the extension of unemployment benefits is going to and should unleash absolute backlash against this administration because that’s a horrendous idea.”
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