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06 February 2010

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JM

I must admit that I'm a bit confused about the tea partiers' concerns over federal spending.

Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy, enormous spending on two wars (while cutting taxes at the same time), introduction of Medicare Part D with no provisions to actually fund it, and absolutely zilch oversight of the "financial community" not only increased the national debt by over 5 trillion in a handful of years, but also left Obama's administration with a financial disaster that God Himself would have a hard time repairing.

In the face of the deepest economic crisis since the Great Depression, Obama spends public money in order to keep the economy from falling off a cliff. Deficits of course get bigger in the shorter to medium term. Without that spending, though, unemployment would be much higher than it is now.

BUT NOW people are concerned about federal spending? Where were the tea partiers during the Bush years?

HJFJR

Pat,

I have been watch with interest the Tea Party movement--it is a populists revolt against the progressivism of experts. It is nothing new, we have seen this before. Despite what the pundits state, this is not a conservative movement, it is a revolutionary movement seeking conservative ends.

As a Virginian, I too am elitists, and wonder how the heated passions of popular sentiment can be directed towards useful ends.

This dilemma is what Mr. Madison so eloquently wrote about in Federalists Number 10 http://www.constitution.org/fed/federa10.htm

R Whitman

They sound more like the "Know Nothing Party" of the Nineteenth Century than the Twentieth Century Libertarians.

Fred Strack

The 'people power' of this movement is anger, which is rather easy for the likes of professional politicians to manipulate (Dick Armey and Tom Toncredo both come to mind). Only now these folks are concerned about federal spending? Only now the 'conservatives' in Congress are concerned about the balanced budget? There's plenty wrong in D.C., there are some things right, too. Scrapping a few amendments to the Constitution? Perhaps these folks should read it, then look at Gitmo and see which parts have already been scrapped.

confusedponderer

What I would dread is that, given the chance, they might just out of sheer enthusiasm reflexively cut taxes, then, faced with low government revenues, feel compelled to do the fiscally conservative thing - cut government spending i.e. lay off employees (cops, firemen, teachers, clerks, administrative staff) and gut government into dysfunctionality and eventual failure - to then use that as an justification for more of the same. After all, failure only proves gain that government doesn't work, it cannot possibly be because the original decisions have been misguided or short sighted.

Iirc engineered failure was part of Gingrich's ideas about how to get government small enough to drown it in a bathtub. Political ideologues who conjured that up are digging America's potential grave. The assertion that government doesn't work well anyway insidiously undercuts democracy. It leads to the misplaced belief that government is no longer needed as it is not capable to perform the functions entrusted to it anyway.

The price of the privatisation of government functions is loss - of institutional memory. Government functions killed with the stroke of the a pen can easily take a decade or longer to rebuild. For an impression on the difficulties one only needs to look at US efforts to build institutions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But never mind, government is the problem, not the solution. The right wing anti-government sentiment in the US is a mere reflex, it is an attitude, and neither a rational criticism or a constructive approach to rectify shortcomings.

America doesn't need 'big government' or 'small government'. That are just slogans. America needs *good government*, and that to an extent does require size. The blather about of 'big government' has IMO been all but an excuse for capturing for private interests the tremendous sums invested by the public sector.

Coming from Europe I can only roll my eyes about those poor persecuted Americans feeling taxed to death.

While probably highly patriotic, the anti-government element of tea party is also irresponsibly foolish, and oblivious to that.

PirateLaddie

In the early days, yes -- there will be room for just about everybody who cares to join.

Unfortunately, if history does indeed rhyme, there will be a shake-out ("night of the long knives"? Ernst Rohm call your office!) once the movement achieves escape velocity and our corporate masters (Justice Roberts, your check is ready!!) decide to call in their chits. As Miss Bette advised, "Fasten your seat belts...."

Bart

I'm only going to give them 2 out of 3 on the complaints listed. They are not taxed to death, given their standard of living.

Cold War Zoomie

I have been saying for a long time now that we have a leadership and management crisis in this country, both inside and outside the government. Much of the leadership centers on self promotion and personal success. Wall street is but one example where the CEO class has become totally oblivious to the fact that their actions are bad for the country as a whole. The only "patriotism" they exhibit is for an open and free form of capitalism that enables their personal success. And this mentality has bled over to government, especially the Senate.

People are pissed off at BOTH parties as the Washington Post article shows. And they are trying desperately to find leadership that responds to their needs.

Right now, the movement has no core philosophy and has a lot of contradictory views. The most unifying point is a sense of frustration by white, middle-aged folks. And I think this happened because Karl Rove's focus on winning elections above all else has burned the very people Republicans were supposed to be representing.

This fellow seems typical...

Jim Linn, an electrical engineer from San Diego, says that ...the Constitution must be interpreted in ways that match his understanding of the Founders' intent. That would mean scrapping a lot of the amendments, he acknowledges, but not Nos. 2, 10, 16 and 17.

Interesting that he believes in KEEPING the 16th Amendment when they are being "crushed by taxes." Or that is a mistake by the reporter. And exactly how is "scrapping amendments" in keeping with the views of the founders?

Anger and frustration are ruling the day. And that leads to mob mentalities.

Lysander

Taxes are what fund the world's most expensive military and allows it to span the globe. Are they ready to do without? If Republicans win in 2010 and 2012, will they still complain when the deficit continues to grow? What if McCain had won in '08 and he too decided to save the big banks with trillions at taxpayer expense?

My problem with the tea party is not that they are factually wrong. I think they are quite correct. But I do doubt their sincerity.

J

Look at 'whom' is/are 'behind' the Tea party organizing, and 'whom' is/are 'behind' Dick Armey/Tom Tancredo/associated parties. It's the 'whom' that is the 'key'.

Follow the money, follow the money.

Sidney O. Smith III

I am keeping a distance from that crowd, at least for now. Probably some well intentioned folks among them but still: they seem to have a look that could turn on anyone, including me, and then its feets don’t fail me now.

That said, I do greatly respect Ron Paul and believe that libertarianism, at this time in history, can act as counterweight to a government hopelessly out of balance and hurdling towards even more centralization, just as the Walrus mentioned in another thread. That aspect of our government is as worrisome if not more so than the Tea Party crowd.

Long live Bruton Parish! Wait, I am Catholic now…but I still put the ladies of the Virginia DAR near the top of the American hierarchy. If the tea party folks would be willing to quietly listen to and take notes of historical lectures given by the ladies of the Virginia DAR, then such an act points in their favor. I wonder if any of those Tea party types are also members of the General Society of Colonial Wars? Good litmus test, perhaps.

rick

As a person who provides direct government servoces to consumers, I am constatnly amazed how the customers who are the most willing to tell you how bad and wasteful government is, are also the ones who want the services provided instantly, and government power exerted arbitrarilly and unquestioningly on their behalf, instantly. They are, by and large, the ones who cosider due process least necessary.

My observation is, at least among the automotive consumers of NY State, least-govt-libertarians turn into not only lovers of big government when they want something, they don't understand any limit whatsoever to what an agency can do. "WHAT DO YOU MEAN IT WILL BE 6 WEEKS BEFORE THE DEPARTMENT OF MOTOR VEHICLES CAN SEND AN INSPECTOR TO INVESTIGATE MY BLOWN ENGINE AND PUNISH THE MECHANIC WHO SABOTAGED IT 3 YEARS AGO?!?!? I PAY YOUR SALARY!" (I heard that on the bus one night, and got to school the speaker in economics 101; it was delicious!)

One could debate whether government should be in the business if investigating consumer complaints at all, but one could debate the necessity of any government action or expenditure. Per-child tax credits set my teeth on edge, and I refer to them as the I-can't-keep-my-knees-together-so-you-should-help-me-pay-for-the-consequences tax credit. Middle class welfare queens...do the teabaggers send that money back as an inappropriate govenment compelled transfer of wealth??

Personally, I recommend that if you don't like taxes or gummint ordering you around, there are plenty of places where they are very low and gummint doesn't really bother you. Rwanda for instance. Or Yemen. Don't let the Atlantic hit you in the ass on the way out.

(As an aside, plenty of my coworkers fit into this category, which strikes me as just bizzar)

JohnH

My thoughts return to retired Marine Corps Major General Smedley Butler and the attempted business coup against Roosevelt. The tea baggers could unwittingly serve the same function as the unpaid veterans of 1934.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Business_Plot

Redhand

The first comment by JM and the third by R. Whitman reflect my feelings about the "tea partiers."

People who will listen to a racist know-nothing like Tom Tancredo, or Sarah Palin, that sleaziest of political grifters, are less a "political movement" than an angry mob. This is pure http://www.pimpyourfinances.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/bill.jpg>Bill the Butcher stuff.

Nightsticker

Colonel Lang,

Regarding this topic, I applaud what you applaud and dread what you dread and for the same reasons.
I also share CWZ's nervousness about people who want to "scrap amendments" and who particularly favor the 16th and 17th [two of the most mischievously subversive toward the original intent of the founders].

Nightsticker
USMC 65-72
FBI 72-96

Andy

CWZ,

I think your analysis is correct. The tea party movement is pretty much a mob right now. All the outlying ideologies have gravitated toward it. I suspect it will implode like the Reform Party did in the 1990's as the various factions fight to control it.

The anger is undeniable, however. This is a group of people who don't believe that the political establishment represents their interests. As both political parties move away from the center and become more programmatic, there will be more people in this country that will feel alienated by the political system. If that trend continues, it doesn't bode well for the future.

On the issue of deficits, I think this is our nation's primary medium-long term threat. We have run deficits for an entire generation - for my entire life, in fact - except for that blip during Clinton's administration. That blip, unfortunately, was an anomaly borne of the confluence of a bubble economy, decreased military spending and a slowing in the rate of government growth among other factors. It's a set of conditions we aren't likely to see in the future.

The political cycle over this 40-year period of deficit spending is that the party out of power takes the role of deficit hawk. Once that party gains power, their priorities change and deficits take a back seat to implementing their agenda. This explains why deficits continue no matter which party controls the White House and/or Congress.

The problem, of course, is that deficit spending is inherently unsustainable. The national debt also benefits from the miracle of compound interest which makes the problem worse over time. The CBO report and testimony that came out last week illustrates the problem we face as a nation. Even once the near term stimulus spending ends, we'll still be running annual deficits of $700 billion a year and that assumes all the Bush and Obama tax cuts are rolled back, which isn't likely to happen (President Obama for example, wants to keep most of the Bush tax cuts except those on people with high incomes). It's more likely our deficits will be closer to a trillion annually with interest payments near a trillion as well. In short, we are facing government insolvency and the effects of that will be severe and far-reaching.

So this is not about, as some here have put it, about getting rid of government and cutting essential services like police, schools and the fire department. The feds don't pay for those and even if they did they wouldn't cost 25% of our GDP, which is what the federal government is spending.

Finally (sorry about the length), the fiscal problem has grown so bad that the solutions offered by both political parties cannot solve it. They are like dinosaurs, stuck in the mire of ideologies that lost relevance decades ago. We are going to have to face the fact that we are heading into a period of national austerity that will require both significant cuts in federal spending along with significant tax increases. As a nation we've let this unsustainable fiscal situation brew for so long that working at the margin and half-measures are no longer sufficient.

lina

I'm not sure if the tea partiers are libertarians or not. And what exactly is a "libertarian constitutionalist" in 2010? I listened to quite a few of these people scream at the healthcare townhall meetings last summer saying "the constitution does not give government any jurisdiction over healthcare." My question to them is: When someone gets hit by a car and gets taken to a hospital by an ambulance, who pays for that? Or maybe it is their position that the person just remain bleeding in the street? I really want to know. If the government has no right to make people have health insurance, do we just leave people to die in the street? If the tea partiers get their wish and gain real power (assuming that's their wish), what is their position on this?

GregB

Col. Lang,

The tea-party movement seems to be largely a new re-branding of the old GOP. It seems to be a coalition of far-right Christians, anti-immigrant activists, so-called libertarians(the kind of libertarians that believe in warrantless wiretapping)and an assortment of anti-Obama birthers and other rampant Obama haters.

It seems to me to be a cynical ploy to push the same old far right Republican agenda while detaching itself somewhat from the deeply unpopular GOP brand name.

Here's a link to Crooks and Liars that gives name to some of the same old names in GOP politics and activist political Christianism.

Reports from inside indicate that Joseph Farah the head of World Net Daily was cheered after his diatribe about how the need to get to the bottom President Obama's birth certificate issue.

Former Congressman Tancredo also addressed the need to institute a poll test to keep ignorant urban dwellers from voting, because that is how he feels President Obama was elected.
http://crooksandliars.com/jon-perr/tea-bagging-for-jesus

jamzo

how far can this round of populism go?

dick armey and his freedomworks has played a major role in amplifying and organizing teabaggers

armey successfully harnessed populist energy with the contract for america that he wrote for the republicans in 1994

Ross Perot provided the "political outsider" leadership and the money needed to make "populism" a major player in 1992

at some point the teabaggers need a nationally recognized "political outsider" leader and a revenue stream for their populist fervor to spread


Bobo

Changes in our government have always come in increments so I propose the following gets on the agenda with my fellow frustrated Americans.

"Enact a law or regulation that any debt incurred by our government must be held by its citizens."

Robert in SB

The Tea baggers are Rubes. they will serve the Far Right, like Palin, Beck, Limbaugh, well meaning Rubes who have no idea what they serve as-cannon fodder, the same way evangelicals did for Bush 2.0. They will be turned out and and ignored once they have served their purpose. Every conversation I have had with them seems to be ultimately focused on the skin color of the 44th President. Ask most of them what they stand for, their Platform,and they can only recite talking points fed to them by Fox news. They have no ideals that are based in anything other than fear.

Fred Strack

Confusedponder,

What you are describing is happening in Michigan right now. The stage was set for that by Governer Engler's end of term tax cuts while in office. To quote the state archives:
"As Governor Engler puts it, "Michigan has been transformed from the broken buckle of the Rust Belt to the turbocharged engine powering the High Performance Heartland.""

http://www.state.mi.us/migov/gov/Archives/taxstatement.html

The only thing turbo charged has been the exodus of jobs and the economic effects they provide the people of this state.

BillWade,NH

I think we'll see more and more of this: You have a heart attack or something similar and need an ambulance. In the end, all's well but then you receive a invoice for $500 for your ambulance ride and you think to yourself, "I thought my property taxes were for services like this". Your no good son winds up in prison but you still love the guy. But, you know he's in a private corporation prison and you have to go to work and pay taxes to keep him there. You live in Tampa and you love, why I don't know, the Bucs. The owner of the Bucs wants a new stadium and he wants you to pay for it. Some are ok with it, others aren't so a vote is scheduled. Then you get your property tax invoice and it's several hundred dollars less than last year's. You think to yourself, ok - maybe the stadium isn't such a bad idea and you vote for it. A week later you get another property tax invoice that's higher than last year's with a letter attached that says, "darn it all, we hired a private company to do the invoices and they sure messed it up, here's the real invoice".

I suspect that soon anytime your local police or fire department gets involved with you, you'll get an invoice. It will be explained to you that your taxes only cover their salaries and if something does happen, you have to pay for it.

Nightsticker

Colonel Lang,

Were you also asking "what is this" to identify the thumbnail picture you display? I believe it is a photo taken from the rear of the Robert E. Lee monument at Gettysburg.

Nightsticker
USMC 65-72
FBI 72-96

Mark Logan

The policies of the people running the economy have for quite some time been lowering the standard of living for the middle class. I see this as a very badly focused reaction to that change.

That the rage is so heavily focused on Obama and Democrats seems but a reflection of where most of them get their information,
for the most part.


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