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Did tea party lawmakers win the great debt debate? They don't think so.

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“This charade that we just passed is going to add another $10 trillion to the national debt,” says Sen. Jim DeMint (R) of South Carolina, a cofounder of the Senate Tea Party Caucus and a leading backer of tea party candidates in primary races.

“The whole assumption with this deal is that we have 10 years to continue to get the debt under control,” he adds. “I don’t think we’re going to be able to borrow $5 trillion or $10 trillion more. We may not be able to borrow the $2.4 [trillion] we just gave to the president.”

In fact, the plan doesn’t reduce the size of government, as tea party activists had hoped. It aims to slow the growth of government spending with spending caps.

“The winner is the Washington establishment,” says Chris Edward, director of tax policy studies for the Cato Institute. “Leaders in neither party had to make any actual tough decisions.”

Most of the initial $917 billion round of cuts don’t kick in until after 2013.

Congress is creating a new joint committee to find further deficit reductions to ensure that cuts exceed the increase in new borrowing, but the biggest source of soaring deficits – health care and the baby boomers’ retirement – could remain off the table.

“Once you dig into the details, we didn’t get that much done,” says Matt Kibbe, president of FreedomWorks, an antitax group that helped organize the tea party movement.

“Inside the Beltway, everybody was looking for a political solution to a political crisis. What tea partyers were looking for was a policy solution to a real budget crisis,” he adds.

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