Yesterday, a few scores of concerned and confused American patriots protested the Bush taxation policies at the Alexandria Riverfront Amphitheater, earnestly believing, instead, that they were actually protesting against our new President (and a budget that has not yet been implemented).
A week ago, The Town Talk announced the event as follows:
Tea Party on the Red will be held Wednesday, April 15, from 5 to 7 p.m at the downtown amphitheatre in Alexandria.
The program starts at 5:30 p.m.
The activities include a presentation of colors by the National Guard, the Daughters of the American Revolution and Sons of the American Revolution, patriotic singing and throwing tea in protest into the river.
Guest speaker will be Clyde Holloway.
This is a bipartisan protest against high taxation.
1. FAIL: The National Guard didn’t show up.
2. FAIL: The Daughters of the American Revolution and the Sons of the American Revolution backed out of the event.
3. FAIL: They couldn’t throw teabags into the Red River.
4. EPIC FAIL: Their surprise keynote speaker, Congressman Rodney Alexander, was booed by the crowd. PawPaw explains:
Rodney, that dummy, got up to speak and tried to defend pork. Rodney thinks that his job is to bring the pork back to his district. He even goes so far as to spell it PORC (Projects of Regional Concern), but the boos from the crowd should have told him that Pork by any other name doesn’t smell so sweet.
What was sweet was to watch Rodney get booed by a crowd that was predominately Republican. Granted, this was pitched as a bipartisan event, and I didn’t see any party politics at the event. But when Rodney stood to defend his porky ways, the crowd booed him. Hopefully he had an epiphany this afternoon.
I am sincerely happy that the National Guard did not participate. The DAR and SAR could have easily participated in an issue-based political event. Perhaps it was wiser for them to have stayed out.
I am sure that the teabags are covered under some sort of littering statute and would be technically illegal. Illegality in a political protest like this is not something I can support. (I would have preferred the protesters to have chosen raw tea – as a symbolic gesture it would be much more true to the original “Boston Tea Party” that so many were attempting to emulate. “Tea bags”, or as the Russians call it, “Postman’s tea”, are a classic American conceit – sacrificing much of the true value and experience of something for convenience and cost.)
As a student of history and the U.S. Constitution, it has been Congress’ great PR victory to have all of the ills of any spending/taxation plan pushed off to the transient occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Referring to this or that taxation/spending plan as either Reagan, Bush (either), Clinton or Obama is just flat out wrong-headed. Congress, generally, and the U.S. House of Representatives specifically, is the sole constitutional and legal custodian of all taxation and spending authority of the United States.
The fact that many of these protesters are confused as to whom they should be directing their protests, (and Congressman Alexander’s reception/treatment is an indication that maybe they are not completely in the dark), does not mean that they are wrong on two important points:
1.) The citizens of the United States are overtaxed.
2.) The government of the United States spends far too much money, and spends it unwisely.
The citizens of the United States are NOT overtaxed. We have one of the lowest effective tax rates in the world on the federal level, thanks to all the credits, deductions and rebates. Even when you add the state level tax structure to it, we still are nowhere near the top of the heap.
What many of these uninformed protesters fail to recognize is that you pay for what you get. Is it any surprise that here in Louisiana, our roads are generally in poor condition; our schools, quite frankly, suck; and we are so dependent on our Congresscritters bringing home the bacon for nearly all of our infrastructure spending?
I do taxes, and I have yet to hear someone say, we don’t pay enough property taxes. Everyone complains about the average $600 to $700 in property tax they pay. I have told a few clients, particularly those who have been multi-year clients, that they don’t pay enough in property taxes. Up in New York, where I was raised, the average tax bill in my hometown is $4,000.
In my hometown, it’s no wonder that the school system is annually awarded a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence from the Department of Education. The roads are generally excellent, with the exception of one of the backroad drags that nearly everyone uses to get to county seat. You pay for what you get.
Louisiana politics will turn a corner when someone, anyone, makes the case for good government … and asks for a tax increase to make it happen. In short, as a favorite t-shirt of mine from the Dirty Coast attests, we need MORE HUEY P.
Even if thousands showed up for this event and the whole thing went as initially planned, this still would have somehow been a failure to you guys, would it not?
No, if thousands of people had shown up and the event planners were successful in bullying the Guard and the Sons and Daughters of the American Revolution to participate, I would have led with the headline EPIC TEABAGGER WIN.
Ryan and Ace you both have valid points. But, there is one big difference between the US and many other places with higher tax rates.
Here we may pay a bit less in taxes, BUT we get far less for those taxes than other countries. And, here in Louisiana we actually get far less than many other parts of the country.
When I lived in Germany the average tax rate was around 40%. But from that 40% everyone got free high quality healthcare, free education (elementary, highschool, college, phd, etc.), extensive public transportation, fabulous infrastructure, an actual useful pension, education and employment training services, you name it.
At the same time what do we get for our taxes? No healthcare. No free college. No public transportation (although Louisiana taxes do help provide NY and other locales with a nice train system). Crappy roads that only go to politically powerful places. You’re pretty much left out in the cold when you’re old. You’re on your own if you lose your job (oh and if the federal government offers better unemployment funds, make sure you turn it down guv).
We may have one of the lowest effective tax rates, but we have one of the lowest effective value of wages because basic aspects of life that governments provide elsewhere are on the backs of the taxpayers.
Of course actually expecting the government to give us something in return for our tax dollars gets you branded a socialist so…
You left wing bleeding heart liberals are just getting worried. This is just the beginning of our tea parties. The revolution is on it’s way. You liberals keep on talking your liberal mumbo jumbo.
LOL. Thanks for a good laugh, Barry.
Would one rather be the bagger or be bagged??? They are both equally appalling.
Clearly being the teabagger is the superior position. Duh. Was there actually any teabagging at this event?
I don’t get you liberals. You are for everything that is wrong. You are for legalized abortions. You are for big government control. What happened to the good old days when you could earn your living and not have to pay for the lazy lowlifes that don’t want to work. I don’t want to share my wealth. I earned my money and I want to keep it. Get your lazy asses to work if you want wealth.
I may not speak for all liberals, but you should know that I’m not “for legalized abortions” so much as I’m against illegal abortions. I agree with the statement Bill Clinton made in 1992, that abortions should be safe, legal, and (most of all) rare. Though it is impossible for me to be pregnant, I think it’s safe to say if I were a woman and faced an unplanned pregnancy, I would never contemplate having an abortion. The thought wouldn’t even enter my mind. Making abortion illegal will not stop abortion. The consequences of driving abortion “underground,” which declaring abortion illegal would do, I believe, would be unbearable.
You also seem to have a beef with welfare. How do you feel about medicare and social security? What about the departments of defense and homeland security?
I don’t like taxes either. They have gone to pay for a war I have always been against (Iraq). They have funded prisons where CIA agents torture detainees. They have funded a politically engineered student loan program designed to let banks and financial institutions skim off the top of taxpayer funded student aid. They have funded FEMA, at least in the previous administration, which provided a new definition for incompetence in the dictionary. Sure you can complain about your money going to welfare, but be real about it, Barry. The billions that goes to drug and insurance companies because of Medicare Part D, and the billions that go to banks and financial institutions for student aid makes the money spent on welfare look like pocket change. Furthermore, what do you do for those people working the assembly lines for GM or Chrysler, who’ve paid UI all these years, did their jobs, tried to (and for the most part) do them well, and now lose their jobs because of the mistakes of CEOs and foolish Wall St. bankers? They’ve paid into the system, and if they choose to get a welfare check do you tell them “tough turkey, buddy, go get a job?” Where are they going to work, Barry, when there are no jobs to be had?
My point is that government is necessary to do certain things. I think it should do those things well. I realize that, as a citizen, I will be taxed. I want — perhaps one can hope — to have the satisfaction that I am at least getting my money’s worth out of my taxes. But I’m not so naive as to believe that my money will not fund things I disagree with. That’s the wonderful part of democracy, we can protest, petition, write letters, etc. And we have elections in which we can change the politicians who write the laws and set the taxes.
So what do we have now, under the “liberal” Obama administration? If you make under $250K a year, you got a tax cut in the stimulus bill. In 2010, when the Bush tax cut, passed by the Republican led Congress, and signed by the Republican President, expires (why in the world did they plan for it to expire?) it won’t be renewed. The only people who will see their taxes go up will be the people who make over $250K a year, and the less-than-5% increase (really it’s just a return to the previous rate) will only return their marginal rates to where they were in 2000, but still lower than where they were during the Reagan administration.
Then we get the tea-baggers and conservatives screaming “socialism!” or “fascism!” when it appears to me that the policies being in enacted are rational responses to years of outrageous deficit spending and fiscal neglect. Before you counter that the deficits over the next few years will be bigger and more irresponsible than the previous eight years, I’ll say this: the economic downturn we face will turn to calamitous without deficit spending. Deficit spending, in and of itself is not necessarily a bad thing. Deficit spending, recklessly done over the past eight years of economic growth, was irresponsible. Deficit spending to provide fiscal stimulus in response to the drop in consumer demand is a necessary and useful tool to combat unemployment and, as in the case of the banks, the complete and utter collapse of our financial system.
What will the return to the 2000 tax rate mean? It will mean that we can pay down some of this outrageous debt accumulated at a ridiculous pace since 2001. It means we can afford paying for an education system that will improve our schools from producing the 15th best educated students in the world back to number 1. It will signal to our creditors that we’re serious about getting our fiscal house in order, strengthening the dollar and in turn encouraging investment in the American economy.
So, Barry, stop beating up on the people on welfare. It’s an old refrain that only demonstrates how selective and dismissive of reality “conservatives” really are. Throw a tea party when something’s really on the line. Otherwise I’ll continue to ask: where was your outrage at the irresponsible acts of the Bush administration? Or go ahead, if you want, and continue to call the Obama administration socialist or fascist or wimpy or thuggish, or whatever. It only confirms in this liberal’s mind how truly and utterly divorced you are from the fact-based world.
You do understand the fallacy of “making abortions illegal only drives them underground” may apply to virtually every law regarding conduct, at least those laws that fall in the mushy zone (particularly abortion, but also drug possession/use)? For example – most of you guys on the left are for massive gun control, if not outright bans (despite “arms” being specifically mentioned in the Bill of Rights, while the Constitution is conspicuously absent on abortion…) – how are those bans working in places like Washington, D.C., NYC, the entire People’s Republic of California, etc.?
The rational wing of the pro-life movement understands that there is a trade-off between the restrictions we are placing on a free person (the mother) and protecting what we perceive as a separate, sentient, living being (the unborn child.) I have become more libertarian in my attitudes about abortion. While not pro-choice, by any stretch, I’ve decided to allow natural selection to do its ugly business. I hope I don’t become cynical enough to take that step with cases of infanticide where the child is lucky enough to escape the womb, but be killed later.
I have no particular beef with welfare recipients, particularly those in the “safety net” category. Unemployed beneficiaries are not “welfare” cases, in my opinion. However, I do have a problem with the welfare culture in the United States, which has grown exponentially during the failed LBJ “War on Poverty”. Much like the “War on Drugs”, the United States seems ill-equipped to solve social problems of any stripe.
Taxation: as a government employee of some description for over 20 years, I understand the need for the government to raise revenue for it’s constitutionally proscribed functions, and many of those are political decisions with which I disagree. However, what’s wrong with a transparent taxation system, that is simple and designed to maximize revenue with minimum impact on private business activity? The left abhors the very suggestion of this type of system, as it would remove, or seriously limit, their power to removes their power to pursue “centralized planning” type-socialist experiments, green policy, and other fads, and otherwise actively control people (and mainly “other” people, not those in the elite ruling class) and their behavior, something for which conservatives, and particularly religious conservatives, are regularly excoriated for doing (and rightfully, pardon the pun, so.)
The fallacy about government spending as a solution to any problem is that all government spending equals some form of taxation, either now, or in the future. Funding deficit spending with the massive debt load that we now have is doubly insulting, because now taxes will have to be raised to cover the principal and interest. The government doesn’t add anything to the economy, it takes away. The excessive spending, really going all the way back to the New Deal, has taken on a life of it’s own.
Oh, and nice argument that deficit spending under Republicans is bad, but deficit spending under Democrats is a “necessary and useful tool.”
“The left abhors the very suggestion of this type of system, as it would remove, or seriously limit, their power to removes their power to pursue “centralized planning” type-socialist experiments, green policy, and other fads, and otherwise actively control people (and mainly “other” people, not those in the elite ruling class) and their behavior, something for which conservatives, and particularly religious conservatives, are regularly excoriated for doing (and rightfully, pardon the pun, so.)”
Ace, with all due respect, sensible planning policies, at their very core, are meant to save taxpayer dollars and the overall tax burden. This isn’t a liberal or conservative issue. Indeed, some of the most vocal advocates of smart growth policies that I have met are conservative Republicans who understand the economic argument.
The same thing can be said for green energy policies.
That said, I don’t think anyone is suggesting that deficit spending is a necessary and useful tool, and the President has committed to significantly reducing our deficit and debt. Time will only tell whether or not he can deliver.
I also don’t think it’s accurate to suggest that “most” people on the left are for “massive” gun control, even though that is what talk show radio hosts and NRA enthusiasts would have us believe.
Thank you for your comments. I must respectfully disagree with your general thesis, however.
Nice work there at the end putting words in my mouth about deficits, Republicans, and Democrats. What I wrote was that the deficit spending done over the past eight years was irresponsible. What I meant by this was that (in general) increasing deficits during a time of economic growth is irresponsible. The fact that Republicans were the ones who decided to eliminate surpluses in exchange for the most aggressive and massive increase in deficit spending (until last September) in American history is merely a coincidence. Had Democrats done the same I would still say the same.
Wait a moment, last time we had a Democrat in the White House we did have economic growth and we cut the deficit and actually had success reducing the national debt, but I digress. For what it’s worth, kudos to the Democrats and Republicans in Congress who worked that out.
I think you are confused about your usage of “fallacy.” You wrote: “The fallacy about government spending as a solution to any problem is that all government spending equals some form of taxation, either now, or in the future.” So are you saying that the fallacy is that taxes will go up to pay for today’s deficit spending? In other words, as you have it written now, in reality taxes won’t go up to pay for the deficit spending today. Plus, which is it: are taxes going up now or are they going up in the future? Or are taxes not going up now or not going up in the future?
The next sentence you wrote: “Funding deficit spending with the massive debt load that we now have is doubly insulting, because now taxes will have to be raised to cover the principal and interest.” Why is it insulting now? We always have to pay for principle and interest on debt. If what you meant by the previous sentence was that deficit spending implies taxes being raised at some point in the future, then we should have been insulted a long, long time ago. What’s so different about today?
Then you wrote this: “The government doesn’t add anything to the economy, it takes away.” Look, Ace, I don’t know you personally, but please know this about me: as a general rule, I try very hard not to knock somebody for the work they do. This is not to say, in a dreamy, touchy-feely way, that all jobs are equally special in their own unique way. It’s a rule I follow because we should all be able to find dignity from our work. So please don’t take what I write here as an insult or a belittling of what you do. I respect your work. That being said: YOU WORK FOR THE GOVERNMENT!
You conclude the paragraph with this statement: “The excessive spending, really going all the way back to the New Deal, has taken on a life of it’s own.” I’m really not sure what you mean by the predicate-object part of that sentence. Judging from the rest of your response, I think it’s safe to say you’re not a big fan of the New Deal. I’ll go ahead and throw the Great Society into the same category. So I’ll play along for a moment and suppose that we get rid of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. What else should we get rid of? WIC and agricultural subsidies. OK. What else? The Securities and Exchange Commission and FDIC? You don’t necessarily have to dot the i’s or cross the t’s, but I’d be curious to know a few more specifics. (As for me, I wouldn’t mind seeing some reform for some of these programs. Perhaps that’s what you’d like too?)
On abortion you wrote that I’m essentially operating with a false assumption (“fallacy”). In other words it’s false to say that outlawing abortion will drive abortion underground (the so-called “back-alley abortion”). Then you make a comparison asking about the sales of guns being outlawed, which, I think it’s safe to say, have driven gun sales “underground.” The city of Chicago faces this kind of problem, though with a slightly different outcome. It’s illegal to sell a handgun within the city limits of Chicago, but gun shops have proliferated in areas just outside the city limits. Pineville faces this problem with sales of alcoholic beverages. Go out Hwy 28E, and the moment you leave the city limits, what do you find?
Perhaps it will surprise you to find out that this “liberal” sees this situation for what it is. The gun ban is perhaps a well-intentioned, but obviously inefficient (and apparently ineffective) method of achieving the goal of having fewer guns deaths. My attitude is that the situation won’t change unless the culture, for lack of a better description, changes. While I’m not an expert on gun control, I think it’s safe to say that achieving fewer gun deaths needs a policy review.
Now back to abortion. You and I will not come to an agreement over how the morality of this issue should ultimately be viewed. But I thought it worth sharing that this liberal (I hesitate to speak for all liberals, but those reading this can feel free to chime in) bristles at being painted with a brush that misrepresents my attitude toward what I believe is a complicated moral issue worth serious reflection.
As for your views on abortion, I’ll let your comments stand on their own. Natural selection!?
Finally, on taxation, explain to me what you mean by transparency. Is this another way of referring to the flat tax idea? I’m not entirely clear as to what you mean. Going on, what is the number you’re looking for that maximizes government revenue while having minimal impact on “private business activity?” What are these “centralized-planning type-socialist experiments” to which you refer?
Let’s continue this discussion over some specifics, not over worn out caricatures.
Amen, Amen, Amen!
I’m not sure where this is going to land in the thread, but I’ll reply to both Mr. White and Chronos.
I guess it depends one’s philosophy of what the U.S. federal government should be doing, or shouldn’t be doing. I’ll use two examples (and their traditional names): The Department of Civilian Marksmanship, and The Rurual Electrification Administration.
The DCM (currently operated as the Civilian Marksmanship program by the Corporation for the Promotion of Rifle Practice and Safety, Inc.) began as a national defense program in 1903, primarily through the efforts of gun nut, yet great American hero, Teddy Roosevelt, then POTUS. While admirable in it’s goal, it is an example of the federal government funding a program that had good intentions, but really had no business getting involved. It was felt that the rapidly climbing urban population, along with the increasing flow of immigrants from Europe, that the U.S. population was losing it’s traditional skills in rifle marksmanship. This was deemed a concern, should a national emergency arise. In context, the Indian wars were substantially complete, but the U.S. had small contingency forces in many places (i.e. the Phillipines), Japan was emerging as a rival in the Pacific (in 1903 they concluded a successful naval struggle against Old World power Russia, despite having effectively been an Iron Age, pre-industrial power just a couple of generations before), and most could see that Europe was stuck in a post-Revolutionary mindset, and it’s nations set against each other in archaic alliances. However, as protective of the Second Amendment as I am, there is no constitutional authority for such a program. Should an emergency been foreseen, it could have been conducted for short period, but the program, like most government programs, became permanent and untouchable. To end it would mean bureaucrats would have to find other work, and no government program, at least not in the past 100 years, seems to die. In fact, there was literally no argument to continue the program after WWII, because virtually every able-bodied male between the ages of 17 and 50 had extensive training in firearms, and millions had combat experience. The “crisis” part of the argument was over, and would continue to wane, as the population of our more hunting-oriented states in the Southern, Midwestern and Western regions, expanded. In 1996, the political will was found, finally, to at least end it’s government agency status, and it was spun off into a public corporation, similar to PBS. However, it is still funded by our tax dollars.
The REA (now the Rural Utilities Service, under the FDA) is a classic example of a New Deal program that simply won’t die. One of the early Roosevelt (FDR this time) initiatives, there was clearly a need for such a program (despite no constitutional authority for such an expansion of federal involvement in anything like this). In 1930, only about 10 percent of rural (depending on that definition) homes had access to electricity. By 1939, and on the eve of the big war, that number had risen to 90 percent. The program should have been declared a resounding success, and concluded. However, it exists in some form to this very day. Again, no constitutional authority for it, no reason for it.
Neither of these programs are breaking the bank, but there are 10s of thousands of such programs that simply cannot be touched. The entire federal budget has become an entitlement program. We will not be able to afford it much longer.
Now as far as “smart growth”, which does seem to be a hot topic at the moment. Of course, I can agree with infrastructure upgrades. The U.S. car culture (which I will not attack directly, it is a function of the traditionally indepent nature of most Americans, and decisions driven by the market) has stunted the development of reasonable, efficient mass transit outside of the very largest metropolitan areas of the U.S. While not in favor of government control (Amtrak is one of the best examples of why our government should never, ever run any “business”), infrastructure generally, and point-to-point mass transit is an area that the federal government could help without running afoul of the constitution. Also, smart improvements to infrastructure, can yield the investment back over time.
The Green Movement – In my opinion, the whole of the green movement is a global effort to control the economic behavior of the industralized nations that do not rhyme with “China” or “India”, particularly the United States. Maybe we should add “smart” as a prefix to green policies. If we do that, as a former Boy Scout, I might be able to support a “Smart Green” policy. Not the stuff we’ve been trying, burning food for fuel, hybrid cars that don’t recapture the difference in cost over the life of the car, and nonsense like that. If the greens will let us build power plants (and yes, we’re going to have to burn a lot of fossil fuels, enrich uranium, etc. to do all of that) to cover the deficit, I can support all electric cars, switchgrass(which we can’t eat anyway) based ethanol. I’m also fine with the continued research and development into solar, wind, geothermal, nuclear, and hydro-electric sources of power. The more power that we can generate without consuming fossil fuels, the better.
Gun Control – Mr. White, I understand that you, as a southern gentleman might have a more moderate stance on gun control. Certainly there are many Democrats who are generally on the right side of the issue – in the Senate, Jim Webb and Mark Begich are two examples, as well as Republicans on the absolute wrong side, again in the Senate, Collins and Snowe come to mind. However, you must concede that expanding gun control is a key element of the agenda on the left, at least on the national level.
I certainly didn’t mean to put words in your mouth. I did re-read your post carefully. I assume that a major bone of your contention of the Bush 43 administration’s deficit spending was to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Focusing on spending only, and not revenue, do you at least concede that the economy faltering after the 9/11 attacks had to be addressed with some of the programs enacted by the previous administration? I’m just trying to discern if you feel that there is a difference a “dirtyness” associated with money spent by a Republican-led administration, as opposed to a Democrat-led administration. Also, are social programs inherently more worthy and/or legitimate than, for example, defense spending?
Also, as far as the Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac mess, do you believe that was a Republican failure, a Democratic failure or a bipartisan effort?
I guess my problem with the tax code are all of the numerous games that are played, both right and left. Much of the tax code is just outright gifts to special interests groups, corporate welfare, or both. The whole function of it is to allow our elected “representatives” to wield power over us, instead of the other way around. While they are in Washington, passing tax laws that encourage the production of oil or natural gas one week (then fining the refineries with the same breath), or taxing yachts, while exempting or reducing taxes on ethanol production, or whatever is popular for them to be doing at the moment, it becomes an indecipherable mess. If the tax code were greatly simplified, some of the power would be restored to the people. I’m not necessarily for a “flat tax”, but three brackets (at most), extremely limited deductions, with an equal per capita refund to ensure progressitivity (which may not be necessary if we have more than one bracket.) If we went to something like that, everyone would be invested in the outcome, and the rhetoric would devolve to platitudes like “tax cuts for the rich”, or “soak the rich”, because, currently, only the “rich” by government definitions pay income taxes, anyway. Give the government control over just a few numbers, like “rate on first $25000, rate on income over $25000, and amount each taxpayer gets as a credit or refund.” Then the average person could understand the impact of the debate.
Abortion – I think we agree that the issue is a morally complex one. I only ask the pro-choice people to consider this: When did your life, independent from your mother, begin? Because when we talk to biologists (not theologians, mind you), about any sort of mammal, dolphins, beagles, mice, etc., the only consensus answer that we can come up with is that life, at least for mammals, begins at conception. If you have to use arbitrary conceits such as “viability”, which can be greatly dependent on the general health of the mother and unborn child, the availablility of medical care, and the general advance of medical technology, I am just glad that you didn’t make the decision for me, when I was completely helpless and at the mercy of my mother. But, as I said, my position on abortion has evolved to the law of the jungle, natural selection, so to speak. I didn’t say I liked it, but it is what it is.
Finally, on gun control – limiting gun deaths. On that, as long as we are limiting it to good people and innocents, I can agree that limiting gun deaths is a laudable and worthy goal. I don’t think it is within the purview of the constitution, and probably should be left to the states. The only proposals the federal government seem to be able to come up with are contrary to the Second Amendment. The NRA, often demonized by the left, is one of the world’s largest gun safety educators, probably second only to the United States Department of Defense.