Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Tea Parties

Yesterday, in addition to being tax filing day, also became national "teabagging" day as thousands took to the streets to protest having to pay taxes. It's interesting that those leading the charge are many of the same people that looked the other way while the Bush Administration and his Republican Congress were saying deficits don't matter.

Our own Representative Scott Garrett got in on the action, mentioning the tea parties in an Op-Ed he got published in the Herald News.
Americans recognize that the government needs their tax dollars to function and provide essential programs for our country, and Americans have always been willing to pay their fair share.
As nice a statement as it is, the "fair share" thing depends who you're talking to.

The reason our District gets crushed by the AMT is because getting rid of it would force taxes and/or borrowing up for the rest of the nation. There was the thought of taxing 5,000 or so hedge fund managers like normal people, which actually would have been a huge step toward repealing the AMT, but Garrett and others rejected the approach. Is that fair?

And what's essential?

You're reading this, so you're benefiting from the investment of taxpayers in the 60's, 70's and 80's to build the technology and backbone of the Internet.

On top of that, chances are, you honed your reading skills thanks to the investment of those taxpayers working when you were a kid. And there's no doubt many of us survived childhood due to vaccines that were funded by taxpayers from the 1920s to present day.

If you're at your job, it's roads and transit that others paid for to get you there. Ever pay to pave your driveway? Imagine having to pave your own road to work.

And we all cheered when Captain Richard Phillips was rescued, but we can't forget that taxpayers footed a lot of bills to get the SEALS to where they needed to be to take those shots, starting in kindergarten.

Now, there's no doubt the government spends a lot of money it doesn't need to. Programs like Medicare Advantage, where taxpayers are paying more for services than they should be, are ripe throughout government. Any meaningful change in tax and spending policy has to start by sifting things like that out. However, we're coming out of eight years of tax cut and spend, which eliminated not only deficit hawks but true fiscal conservatives in government.

In addition to no-bid contracts, earmarks tend to be a top waste of money, or at the very least one of the biggest ways of preventing us from making sure we're getting the best bang for our buck. Unfortunately, there are only 35 Representatives who don't request earmarks.

If you're one of the teabaggers reading this, then hold your own Representative accountable. If they're earmarking, they're not helping reduce government spending. If they're talking about eliminating national programs, they're talking about raising your local taxes. If they're talking about giving you tax cuts, but won't cut programs we don't need like the F-22, they're talking about taxing your grandchildren.

Protests like yesterday don't mean anything when people re-elect their own elected officials 90% of the time. The whole mess is our own fault, and it hardly started with Obama. Sure, Republicans seized and nourished the rage, but that's the greatest con-job of all since they were the ones handing out no-bid contracts in Iraq and were in control of Congress and regulation agencies when things started falling apart in the financial sector.

The partisanship, the name calling, all of it needs to stop. We're in a hole we allowed ourselves to be put in, and now we're going to have to dig ourselves out. It is possible we will, but the anger expressed yesterday needs to be transformed from name calling into concrete ideas. And voters need to wake up and realize where we're at has been decades in the making, and it's likely going to take a decade to fix.

1 comment:

Jill said...

Funny how the so-called "teabaggers" (it's always about gay sex with these guys, isn't it?) didn't care a whit about spending or fascism when it was a white Republican tapping their phones and monitoring their communications and shoveling their tax dollars into the pockets of campaign contributors and other cronies. But put a Democrat in the White House, especially a BLACK Democrat, and suddenly they're all tax protesters.