Thursday, April 16, 2009

Tea Parties: GOP Once Again Manipulating the Average Joe

During the eight miserable, ineffective and wasteful years of the Bush administration, Karl "Turd Blossom" Rove, the president's chief political advisor, deftly crafted a successful strategy of turning the "little guy" on himself. That being, to divert and distract these Average Joes away from the real issues that effect them--unemployment, wages, health care, education--and instead drive them to the polls through hot-button issues including abortion, gay-marriage and life-support (Terri Schiavo). For a long while, it worked. The little guy consistently voted against his own self-interests.

But the little guy's not completely stupid, and the inevitable backlash began with the 2006 midterm elections where Democrats won a small Congressional majority, and kicked into high gear last November, with Barack Obama's presidential victory and the Democratic landslide in the House and Senate. Dejected, the GOP crawled away a broken, dysfunctional family. A tarnished brand. But as this year's tax season rolled around, conservatives issued a rallying cry in the form of "tea parties," those ill-founded, embarrassing, scantly attended protests that were held Wednesday across the nation. Though touted by organizers (most likely GOP funded and supported) as being attended by "Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, and Independents," judging from the crowds and the signs they waved, it was pretty clear this was a decidedly anti-Obama movement. And that's the insane part.

What the demonstrators are protesting is what they believe to be higher taxes and wasteful government spending, in particular the $787-billion stimulus plan and the $3-trillion bailouts of banks, Wall Street and the auto industry. But the not-so-comic irony here is that the Obama administration has yet to impose one single tax increase on anyone. To the contrary, it's giving income tax cuts to 95% of Americans, and gives additional tax cuts and credits for small businesses, tuition payers and home buyers. The only individuals that could be hit with an actual tax increase are those whose annual incomes exceed $250,000. An increase, mind you, that's still a full 10 points less than the rates during the Reagan presidency. But I didn't see any seemingly rich dudes in NY, Chicago, DC and elsewhere parking their Benz's and raising any protest signs at these rallies. The crowds, though small, were filled with the same types who've been used and abused before: low and middle-income taxpayers who ironically stand to gain the most from Obama's tax policies. And once again, they've somehow been manipulated by the GOP through lies, misinformation and perhaps even racial bias.

I nearly cringed when I saw on Neil Cavuto's Fox News show a few people in the crowd jeering one of the guests being interviewed, a woman from a progressive/green organization, who supports taxing the rich. It was as if the poor and middle class in the crowd had been brainwashed into defending those mistreated rich folk at the hands of the elitist Obama.

In case anyone hasn't noticed, there are many recent signs that the economy may finally be turning around. There's been several positive indicators in the banking, home, retail and auto sectors. The credit markets are opening up. The stock market's had the best rally since the Great Depression. And, there hasn't been one bank/Wall Street failure since the bailouts. Maybe, just maybe, the government's fiscal policies which began in the Fall under George Bush and then expanded under Obama are working? And maybe those misguided protesters--the ones out across America yakking about Obama as if he was the biggest socialist since Karl Marx--should realize that these same policies are the ones that will help create jobs; protect savings; make home-buying more affordable; make tuition easier to pay; create universal health care; make the US more energy efficient; and, overall, resuscitate this ailing economy.

But the GOP sees opportunity here to revive its heretofore comatose, dispirited base. What a better, time-tested, tried-and-true conservative cause-celebre than taxes? It's the Republicans trying to create something out of nothing. But will this populist approach work? Will the newly-energized "Contract with America" folks like Newt Gingrich succeed in creating a groundswell of support over this issue and thus breathe new life into the near-dead Republican Party? A new Gallup poll released this week shows that 53%of Americans approve of big government spending to fix the economy, and 48% think that the federal income taxes they pay are "about right," indicating the lowest anti-tax sentiment in 50 years. And President Obama enjoys impressive overall approval ratings. Judging from yesterday's meager turnouts--so weak they should be called "Decaffeinated" Tea Parties--it appears these tea-baggers are nothing more than a fringe minority.


Unknown said...

I saw tea-partier say he was a "small businessman" who lost his house two years ago on one of the interviews...

The reason the tea parties aren't Roverian, is that they do not have a coherent message.

The little guy knows "tea parties" in our culture are about taxes, period. The linkage to bailouts and foreclosures isn't the same.

And a week after the G-20 protests, it's not a good association.

Finally, Americans are into killing Somalians now( not Nescafe.) And Obama got a lot of tough-guy on him for that.

Tea Party has no legs.

Anonymous said...

Athough i agree with most of what you say Andy i am not drinking the Obama Kool Aid.
Barack is very charasmatic and i want to believe him but i'll pass.

This banker bailout is ridiculous.

A complete fraud on the American people.

More parasitic theft on the taxpayer at the hands of the elite.

The Republicans are vile and have no shame. They take hypocrisy to levels unimaginable. They harm America at every chance.

The Democrats and Republicans are controlled by the same people at the top and have done a great job sodomizing the people for decades.

This game is a ruse and it's time for it to stop.

Obama's foreign policy PR campaign last month was nice and America's image more then needs it.

We are officially The United Snakes of Torture and Obama refuses to address Bush War crimes. Why ? Because his master's won't allow him. Obama works for his master's and not the America people.

Once you look at the meat and potatoes it's a continuation of Bush Foreign Policy and merely more puppeteering by the CFR and Brzezinski.

Both Obama and THE GOP are manipulating the Average Joe.
Enough already.

Stella said...

Capitalism is inherently unsustainable. So the government's actions aren't "working" anymore than the 90s "boom" was "working" for wage slaves like me and most other Americans. Sort of like how the media and politicians are now telling us all to live on a budget and be frugal. It may be news to them, but most of us have been living on a budget all along, including under Democratic administrations.

And maybe it's because I'm in Texas, but it seemed to me that the "tea party" here drew more of the Ron Paul crowd than the Rush Limbaugh crowd; although, having seen some of the signs these idiots were waving around America, it could also have been mistaken for a white power rally.

Writer to the Stars said...

Thank you for addressing the angry and manipulated voter, who's been stuffed full of terrible information, but doesn't care. I have a very old friend who should be smarter than Fox News and conspiracy theories, but isn't. After getting too many loony emails, I finally told him that life is bigger than who is right and who is wrong, and that I won't discuss politics with him. I'd rather just be his friend. It's wearying, all this anger.

Anonymous said...

Okay you folks who think the bailouts are bad, would you rather our country be destroyed?

I'm serious. Folks against it, just do not have the critical thinking skills needed to even comprehend our problems.

No one is drinking any Kool aid when it come to Obama. He is not perfect. But he is 1000 times better than Bush and the Republicans anyday.

Anonymous said...


Pass all you want. You just don't get it anyway.

Anonymous said...

The tea party protests were against TAXES -- ALL TAXES

I pay 7 pecent in my state for everything I buy. Since I spend all I earn I pay seven percent of my income to the state

My state has raised state income taxes, too.

My city has local taxes.

My AT&T phone bill has about ten dollars in different taxes every month. I even pay a dollar for 911 service.


The rich weren't protesting because if they don't like city/state/fed taxes they can move to another state like Donald Trump is going to do. The corporations and the rich can move to another country.

EVERY transaction I have is connected to a tax from some "power" over me.

This was not a protest against Obama but agaist the grip others have over the average American.

We are at the mercy of any power that needs money.

Anonymous said...

I have been trying to figure out the tea bagging thing. The people I saw interviewed were obviously genuinely pissed off and were expressing real anger and discontent...

Then it hit me while I was sitting on the back porch of a local public golf course. I overheard a conversation that started out all wrong--a blowhard was lamenting the amount of taxes we pay and said that he was very afraid that we would end up like Europe. Like Sweden, like Holland. Oh my!

And then one of his foursome very quietly said, "You know it's really different over there...". And proceeded to point out that his counterpart in Amsterdam is paid substantially less, but that, "when he retires he get 100% of his salary from the highest year of his earnings...If I could get that I'd jump on it in a heartbeat even with a higher tax rate..."

This stopped the blowhard in his tracks and I suddenly realized what the tea bagger's are angry about.

It is not that our tax rate is too high--it is that we get very little for it.

In the social democracies of Europe (and that has to include the UK in some regards) each citizen does pay a substantially higher percentage of income in taxes. But in my experience, while the more capitalist among them complain about the rate, they get concrete, real benefits from what they pay: health care, a national retirement system, state mandated minimum annual vacation etc.

And this is why these tea baggers are protesting. They don't know how and who, but they do realize that they're getting robbed.

They pay taxes, but they don't see the benefits coming back to them. Fifty percent of their tax dollars are wasted on maintaining the corporate American empire--which our government calls defense spending.

Most entitlements are not available to them because they are either too young or they are too wealthy according to their federal and state governments.

So, when a job is lost or a an illness comes, there aren't any corresponding benefits. No health care, no unemployment benefits commensurate with their former income, no career re-education, no national retirement--no nothing really.

That's why they're pissed about any level of taxation. While these folks are not the sharpest tools in the shed--their concerns should not be shrugged off. They are genuine and spring from the fundamental inequities in our tax system and from what our money is being spent on.

Think about it. Aren't you pissed off too? Most of us just received a modest tax cut--but at least 50% of our tax dollars are being spent on maintaining our military industrial complex here and abroad. The remainder is going to social programs that most of us are not eligible for...The two party system means that only rarely do our votes count and only rarely do we get to vote FOR someone.

Given all that can you not understand the tea bagger's discontent? Liberal's must learn how to articulate why these folks are angry and speak to it. The tea bagger's are not necessarily knee jerk conservatives. They are discontented citizens that need to be recruited.

Liberals will push for programs that will help these folks. The conservatives will only use their fury and then do nothing for them. We are on their side they just don't know it yet.

Anonymous said...

I am not sure why this is so hard to understand. I make around $ 100,000 per year. I pay around $35,000 per year in federal, state, ss, sales tax, special taxes, fees, etc.

Got that? $35,000. I am one of the 95% getting a tax benefit under Obama which will amount to around $800 leaving me with a tax burden of over $34,000. I'm supposed to be happy about that?

Between all my bills and life's unexpected expenses I barely have anything left to work with to live. Because I worked hard and made something of myself I should be able to travel, eat at restaurants, buy conveniences and entertainment items, etc. without having to put it on a credit card but I can't.

I should be able to enjoy the fruit of my hard work. Instead I have this huge tax burden. Because I feel this way, you want to label me some kindof fanatic? Andy, you are more financially blessed than I am so I guess it comes easy to part with so much cash. For me it really affects my quality of life.