Sunday, May 16, 2010

What Really is the Tea Party Movement? "America's most vibrant political force"? Or a force that spreads lies and propaganda?

What really is the Tea Party movement? This is a tough question to answer because it seems like one can never get an objective response. Either Tea Partiers are super-religious, anti-abortion, and too conservative for their own good, spreading blatant lies about the people in power, and plain evil, or they are seen as gods bringing back real conservatism and willing to fight for what's right against power-hungry Obama and his lackeys in Congress. I find both of those descriptions to be inaccurate. I see them as fiscally conservative people who are outraged about how we're spending taxpayer's money and want to make a change. But, if you don't agree let's look at the facts.

The Tea party movement is a movement that coordinates protests and these have seemed to stem out of legislation that Congress has passed, specifically the 2008 bailouts, 2009 stimulus package, 2009-2010 health care reform bills. The name is a throwback to the times of the first Tea Party where their war chant was "no taxation without representation"(an phrase current Tea Partiers are now using to describe our government) and dumping the Tea into the Boston harbor. And let me ask you the common denominator between the pieces of legislation mentioned above? That's right, a lot of money was spent in creating them and a lot of money will, or has been spent on executing them. To some (like the Tea Partiers) this display of spending would seem like a gross amount and that makes them angry. So, basically they got fed up with the huge amounts of government spending and decided to have protests to show the world their discontent (and it seems like the world has been listening. The Economist, a British publication, has called the Tea Party "America's most vibrant political force"). This doesn't seem to unreasonable to me and I wouldn't qualify it as evil either, but let's go over some more things.

The Contract from America (inspired from Gingrich's Contract with America) is the agenda of the Tea Party that they would like Congressional candidates to follow. The agenda is listed as:
1). Identify constitutionality of every new law, which basically means they want to make sure Congress has the power from the Constitution to pass said law. This is written to regulate Congresses interference into our private lives and would also help limit the power and scope of the Federal government a little.

2). Reject emission trading, which would stop cap and trade, which would make companies who go over their "cap" (set amount of how much they are allowed to pollute) be punished by paying extra money. But, what's bad for the company is also bad for the consumer like in an energy company. Energy creation production is an inelastic good (which means that people need it so when the price goes up they usually end up paying for it rather than stop using it). So, the Tea Party would like to offer economic incentives to stop pollution. This is basically reward instead of punishment and would alleviate the consumers undue economic burden.

3). Demand a balanced federal budget. They would like an amendment to demand a balanced budget with two thirds majority needed for any tax modification. So, if you want to increase/decrease taxes you must have a two thirds majority under this amendment. I'm not so sure if an actual constitutional amendment is needed for the end goal of a balanced budget. I think since Paygo was re-instated it could get the job done. Paygo says that the government can't spend more money than it has which would help stop the deficit, however some modifications would be necessary. For it to do real good, it shouldn't be so easy to opt-out of. It should also have a lasting life, and shouldn't have keep on being reinstated. Maybe, this unfortunate part of Paygo is why the Tea Party wants a Constitutional amendment.

4). Simplify the tax system. They want to replace the internal revenue code with a shorter version no longer than 4,543 words (don't ask where they got that number) and it would establish a single-rate tax system. I agree that the tax codes NEED to be simplified. We should understand why we are paying money to our government for Pete's sake.

5). Audit federal government institutions for their constitutionality. There would be a special task force that would asses the constitutionality of federal agencies and would look at waste, ineffectiveness, duplication, and agencies that would be suited for local and state governments instead of the federal government. This would cut down a lot of our money waste. It would also help get back some more states rights if they found that many federal programs could actually be devolved onto the states (like Welfare). This would just make things more easier to regulate and it would save a lot of money because our money would be put to more effective uses.

6). Limit annual growth of federal spending. This would limit our annual spending growth to the sum of the inflation rate plus the percentage of population growth. I suppose this would stop us spending beyond our means. I think to limit our spending growth maybe a modified version of Paygo could be used.

7). Repeal the healthcare legislation passed on March 23, 2010. This is pretty self-explanatory I think. Members of the tea party don't like the healthcare legislation that was passed. I don't know all the reasons but one is that it basically had NO bipartisan support and that it was passed in an unusual, some would say tricky, fashion that did not appeal to a lot of people. Also, they probably don't like the individual mandate where everyone is required to buy health insurance because it interferes with a person's right to choose if he wants health insurance or not (even though this mandate is better for the insurance companies and is cheaper for us). Actually, the whole idea of anything close to government-run healthcare is pretty repulsive to tea partiers.

8). Pass an 'All-of-the-Above' energy policy. This would allow us to search for new ways to get our energy and help us get away from our dependence on foreign oil. Nobody wants to be under the thumb of a depleting resource.

9). Reduce earmarks. No earmarks until there is a balanced budget and would require a 2/3rds majority to pass an earmark. During the healthcare bill debate there were many complaints about these earmarks that were making the bill more expensive. Basically, they can be added onto bills to make it more expensive because it's money for individual projects and Congress can also specifically mandate where all of the money goes.

10). Permanently repeal all recent tax increases that are scheduled to being in 2011. This would help our economy because instead of giving more money to the government we would be using it to put into banks, the stock market, consumer goods, etc. which directly helps the economy. It seems to me whenever the government gets money almost all of it disappears before it reaches "the economy" and us.

Basically, the Tea Party is a movement that encourages government to stay out of our "private lives" and therefore wants lower taxes, more responsibility with the taxpayers money, etc. It is not something evil and cannot be defined by just the people who represent them. In my opinion, many things stated by the Tea Party are valid points and it seems to be the liking of fiscally conservative Republicans and Libertarians.

So, I urge to to give it a chance. You don't have to agree or like what they find important but it's just as valid as any other political movement/party in America.

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