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Was Ron Paul, tea party re-inventor, right all along?

Tea Party anti-tax and anti-spending protestors in Santa ana calif 4-15-09

Ron Paul told us long ago. And so did the supporters of this one-time Libertarian presidential candidate.

Maybe you remember about 16 months ago the 11-term Texas Republican representative, who's now organized a new Campaign for Liberty, was raking in more political contributions each month than most other GOP presidential candidates, relying on his hundreds of thousands of fervent supporters staging their money bomb days of online donations and -- oh, yes – tea parties.

In many cases today’s media coverage of some 700+ tax protesting tea parties across the country ended up telling us more about the media than the rallies, which sure had some angry guests for “tea parties.”

Cable channels tended to cover and debate the events along their predictable viewership lines, with Fox News taking them seriously while acknowledging their critics, and MSNBC generally dismissing....

Tea Party participants in Staten Ilsand NY protest Obama tax and spending policies

...them as lame organizing attempts by a gasping Republican party that opposes Obama on everything, except maybe perhaps shooting Somali pirates dead in the head.

Anyone monitoring varied blog comments and Twitter exchanges in recent days, however, recognizes the familiar grassroots flavor of the dedicated past Paulites in their chatrooms, exchanging organizing tips, alerting each other, making signs and alerting the media.

Many Republican politicians back home for the Easter recess, which seems to last well past the time that anyone else gets to mark that holiday, appeared to be playing catch-up, inviting themselves to the local rallies.

Representative Ron Paul of Texas While some tried to portray the events as merely anti-tax rallies, pointing out that President Obama wants to cut taxes for 95% of Americans making under $250,000, feelings at these events included more varied angers, including Wall Street bailouts, huge spending plans, anticipated deficits and debts, and the general economic unease and uncertainty afflicting many Americans.

“We’re not happy with the stimulus. We’re not happy with earmarks. And we’re not happy with runaway spending,” said one tea party attendee, who opted against a Revolution-era costume.

Paul's liberty campaign today sought to remind folks of its role in the re-genesis of tea parties in 2007. But few noticed that e-mails and Tweets are already flying around about online planning of similar rallies on July 4th, Independence Day.

With more than one-third of all income earners already excluded from paying income taxes, the frustration and fervor among many who do pay seemed fed by the White House budget’s immense spending numbers and anticipated debt with more zeroes than most personal calculators can display.

The event, timed to April 15 tax filing day, did provide an organizing opportunity early in the Obama administration for conservative-minded voters who were otherwise overwhelmed in last November’s elections that produced a Democratic president and two Democrat-controlled houses of Congress.

The new Democratic administration did everything it could today to diminish the PR media impact of thousands of protesters across the country, including across the street from the White House, scheduling an Obama speech on taxes and simplifying the complex tax code, releasing the Obama and Biden family tax returns and making Press Secretary Robert Gibbs available live to laugh derisively with Ed Schultz on MSNBC over the pathetic rallies and the impossibility of them being in any way organic.

The question, of course, remains whether the grassroots organizers with complicit political allies can over time turn the anger into an actual effective political movement, as Howard Jarvis did with the anti-tax Prop. 13 in California years ago. And which party can most effectively tap into the protesters’ anger, using the new social networking methods that Obama’s campaign itself employed so well the last two years.

Meanwhile, since he proved so prescient last year about the approaching economic bust, here are some of Ron Paul’s recent thoughts on taxes and government spending, which, it may not surprise you to learn, he blames for much of the contemporary economic turmoil:

Could America exist without an income tax? The idea seems radical, yet in truth America did just fine without a federal income tax for the first 126 years of its history.

Prior to 1913, the government operated with revenues raised through tariffs, excise taxes and property taxes, without ever touching a worker's paycheck.

The harmful effects of the income tax are obvious. First and foremost, it has enabled government to expand far beyond its proper constitutional limits, regulating virtually every aspect of our lives. It has given government a claim on our lives and work, destroying our privacy in the process.

It takes billions of dollars out of the legitimate private economy, with most Americans giving more than a third of everything they make to the federal government. This economic drain destroys jobs and penalizes productive behavior.

The ridiculous complexity of the tax laws makes compliance a nightmare for both individuals and businesses.

Is it impossible to end the income tax? I don't believe so. In fact, I believe a serious groundswell movement of disaffected taxpayers is growing in this country. Millions of Americans are fed up with the current tax system, and they will bring pressure on Congress.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo credits: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times (Anti-spending and anti-tax protestors in Santa Ana, Calif.); Emmanuel Dunand / AFP / Getty Images (Similar protestors in Staten Island, N.Y.); Associated Press (Rep. Ron Paul); Scott Olson / Getty Images - below (Protestors in Chicago).  

Tea Party anti-spending, anti-tax protestors in Chicago 4-15-09
Comments () | Archives (30)

The comments to this entry are closed.

Of course Ron Paul is right on so many things. It just takes a long time for the majority of Americans to realize what is going on. As long as they can get cheap food, have a roof over their heads, and can watch American Idol or Bachelor, they are happy. The problem is that all of these things are going to go away, and if you have been listening, Ron Paul has explained why.

These 'Tea Parties' are NOT necessarily about taxes. This is about an out of control government. Ron Paul is right on so many issues... I wish the main stream media would give Dr. Paul more airtime.

Well, we have several interesting points of view going on. I agree with you that the Libertarians (small l) started this tax issue. Now we have the Big R Republicans trying to invade the "host" like the neocons regularly do. Steal ideas and claim the followers. Republicans are short on ideas but ready to invade the host to sap the life out of it. Gingrich comes to mind. As for the lefties out there, they've got to do a little more to beat down the idiotic Keynesians who believe that unlimited debt and spending from the govt is GOOD. Sorry, Krugman is a lightweight. His examples and analysis of history are terrifically weak and juvenile. And even he isn't happy about the Obama economic program. In fact, even Noam Chomsky isn't happy about Summers and Geithner. These two idiots started and fomented the derivative thing. The revolving door seems to be the trademark of Obama, as with other Elitists out there. I'll be clear: Bush sucked. Cheney should be living at GITMO. And Obama had better start thinking about whether he wants to serve the brain-dead Elitists or the much more connected, and affected, vox populi.

Here's an interesting bit of budgetary math:

The Federal Reserve has printed up somewhere between 7 and 10 trillion dollars in the past year.

The US Federal Government's 2009 budget is about $3 trillion.

Of that $3 trillion, approximately $1.2 trillion will come from American citizens paying their personal income taxes.

So instead of printing up $7-10 trillion for Wall Street executives and politically connected but underperfoming corporations, they could have simply told all American citizens that they didn't have to pay any income tax at all for the next five years.

You heard that right: all the money the Federal Reserve has printed up for these "bailouts" and "stimulus packages" could have been mirrored by all Americans paying no income tax at all for the next five years.

So, can we get rid of the income tax? Of course we can. If we have enough in ONE YEAR to pay the thieving bitches on Wall Street and K Street, we have enough to tell all American citizens for FIVE YEARS that they don't owe a goddamned cent in income tax.

How am I the first one to comment on this?!? (at least, no comments are showing for me)


"Ron Paul told us long ago. And so did the supporters of this one-time Libertarian presidential candidate."

Andrew, is this phrase something that the PTB at the LA Times make you keep on your clipboard? If you took it off the clipboard, would they ship you to the journalistic equivalent of a remote radar station in Antarctica?

You do know he was *much* more recently a Republican presidential candidate, right?

However, I do applaud you for remembering the Ron Paul connection with regard to the tea parties. There was a really cool image of Paul's likeness on a teabag with the caption "Liberty Is Brewing." Email me if you'd like me to share it with you.

Hi Andrew,

Good article but you left out that We The People want to End The Fed as well.

The Fed is what is destroying the dollar and has been since 1913.

We went off the Gold Standard in 1971. Until the day we went off that standard inflation showed up on a graph like a wave. Going up a little down a little.

Once off the Gold Standard inflation started to climb at a 45 degree angle and has NEVER fallen once. It has allowed the Government to grow by leaps and bounds to a point where NO AMOUNT of taxation will ever pay our debts.

End The Fed

"Switch to Gold, the Fed WILL Fold"

Ron Paul/Rand Paul 2012

That is HISTORY that We The People can DEFINITELY get behind!!

The Fed & Treasury Dept. jumped the shark with the bailouts. People have had enough of the selling out of America.

It's pretty clear that the GOP leadership along with FOX News completely hijacked Ron Paul's message and propagated this tea party nonsense on a national scale so that it looked like a real grassroots event. It's basically turned into a "bash Obama" rally. It's completely fabricated. It was organized from the top down. Ron Paul's events during his campaign were organized from the bottom up, and those were truly spontaneous and grassroots-organized. Most of the people that go to these tea parties are completely clueless about subject matters that are of real importance, such as the Federal Reserve System (fractional-reserve banking), the Internal Revenue Service, the wars in Iraq and Aghanistan, etc...If these people are really opposed to "wasteful government spending" and "pork-barrel projects" where in the world were they the past eight years?! It's so completely fake. The "tea party" here in Atlanta turned out to be a "fair tax" rally and a campaign rally for John Oxendine (he's running for governor). It's so pathetic. People are so stupid.

USURY is the core problem.

Take the profit out of putting people into debt. Eliminate all interest rates and make usury illegal once again.

Let bankers get jobs farming food or something productive with their hands instead of enabling them to shift digital "money" around and kicking people out of perfectly good homes, only to leave the homes empty.

Deuteronomy 23:19 "Thou shall not lend upon usury to thy brother." Which part of that are you heathens having a hard time understanding?

Ron Paul was right, and faced an ocean of opposition to stand up for what he believed, and now the Neoconservatives have signed on claiming to be a part of this for a long time. Our movement has been shown to be powerful, stable, logical, and honest and the rats are now invading and trying to compromise it. Some may be honest converts but many are merely hitching a partisan ride. Ron Pauler's are largely libertarian minded and care more about the issues and the logic than the party who claims them. It is now when others seem to be rallying to some of our calls that the R3volution must be most clear in our message of Constitutional government, hard money, peace, and individual social and economic Liberty and do all that we can to make sure that our movement is not compromised. Thank you Andrew for this piece, we don't forget those who are brave enough to tell the truth. We've fought hard and given a lot to get even this far against what at times seems to be a lost cause, but what are our options? We have to push back!

The April 11 California Revolution Rally in Riverside predated the tea parties, and we cross-promoted some as well. We weren't protesting Obama's tax cuts (although they aren't deep enough), but we were protesting Sacramento's tax increases and spreading the word to vote no on Props 1A-1E (which should drive Skelton crazy a couple of cubicles over). We had no GOP organization (we're real Libertarians, not fake ones!) and none of the funding that the Airhead America crowd were claiming. And it was put together by six people.

You can't tax your way out of a recession, and that was OUR tax message--to Sacramento, not Washington.

Ask your Congressman to Co-sponosr HR1207 tp audit the fed. Protests won't change government - Political Activists will. Be an actvist. Pick up the phone and call your Congressman and ask him to support the Audti The Fed bill. TODAY!

You want to stick it to The Man??? It is very simple

1 - Never be late on a Credit Card Payment
That how they make money
2 - Never use a large bank for any loan
That's the other way they make money
3 - Never vote Democrat OR Republican
They are all the same - Don't be Fooled!
4 - Don't Smoke!
Health Care profits will be slashed
5 - Don't Buy Brand Name anything
It is all crap. So Buy Local. It's fun.
6 - Eat Healthy, Take vitamins, Exercise
You'll be happier. Trust me.

Hi Andrew, Thanks for the article. Please don't forget HR 1207 -- The Federal Reserve Transparency Act of 2009 (55 cosponsors).


In any calculation of the amount of money collected via personal income taxes, one must subtract the cost of compliance and collection, currently about $300 billion per year. The net amount collected is $900 billion per year. Compare that with the $12.4 trillion created by the Federal Reserve. That's almost 14 years worth of income taxes, folks!

Clearly, the federal government does not need to collect income taxes. That money needs to stay where it belongs: in your pocket.

What I don't understand is why so many liberal or progressive thinkers are seduced by involuntary social engineering as a means of solving social problems. This is scientifically inconsistent. Depriving an individual organism of freedom limits its ability to adapt and thrive.

Socialism — or any form of involuntary wealth redistribution — is an attempt to enforce monoculture, and monoculture is a death sentence for biodiversity. Biodiversity is necessary for ecosystem health.

To extend our metaphor:

Socialism = monoculture
Capitalism = biodiversity

if I say this was fair and balanced, will the LA Times get sued?

Are you fed up with the way the mainstream media covered Tea Parties? Did your blood boil when you saw the degrading messages of CNN, NBC, and MSNBC? I mean it's completely ridiculous!

But you can do something about it! Send the mainstream media a message it will never forget, on Independence Day!

See website for details:

Too bad only the like-minded conservative guys read this. If there is more Obama's people read this, hopefully some will come to light.

The rallies, despite what ignorant media commentators have said and what participants may have believed, were not about Bashing Obama. They were about runaway government spending that needs to stop. Both Republicans and Democrats have destroyed this country and continue to destroy it.

Mike Hucklebee's tax proposal is fair and affordable.

Thank you, Andrew, for remembering that Ron Paul supporters started the tea parties during his campaign in 2007. We "dumped" policies of the Bush regime such as the Patriot Act, as well as policies/agencies of big government in general, such as the Federal Reserve and the IRS. The recent tea parties were more of the same, but focused particularly on outrageous government borrowing and spending. While the media gave a lot of attention to the few anti-Obama signs in the crowd, most of the protesters were well aware that out-of-control government began long before the recent election.

Mike Hucklebee's tax proposal is fair and affordable.

Posted by: Marilyn | April 18, 2009 at 06:03 AM

Huckabee was nothing more than a parrot mimicking what the Fair Tax People put together. He did NOT have a proposal himself.

With that said the Fair Tax is a JOKE. What would stop the government from taxing your income AND the products you purchase through that Fair Tax?

The group below, which is also our link, has an idea for a Flat Tax and the tax would ONLY be at 10%. Check it out. Very doable because there are NO DEDUCTIONS allowed.

ONLY A Doctor WILL HEAL Our Country,

Ron Paul/Rand Paul 2012

The inflation that the Federal Reserve is more aptly described as the Stealth Tax. More Americans are realizing how our the Federal Reserve is a direct cause for much of our economic problems. It's what allows the government to spend more & more, while Stealth Taxing its citizens.

Great article. Thanks for posting!

Ron Paul was always right, and is an honorable man.
The problem is that the majority of Americans should not be allowed to participate in the electoral process. They are incapable of understanding cause and effect, and beyond that they are willfully stupid. How hard is it to understand that if you are in debt, you do not spend more?
If you want to have a reasonable government do the following;

1. Eliminate all political parties.
2. Eliminate any special interest groups getting special benefits.
3. Eliminate all foreign aid, and rewrite immigration making it state specifically that your parents must be citizens when you are born to be an American citizen and receive the benefits of such.
4. Make people take a political science test and test on the candidates' stands before they vote as well as a literacy test. If voting is not that important to you, then you wouldn't need to take the tests.
5. Allow men to either have sports or the ability to vote.
Allow women with women to either have daytime television/ gossip rags/romance novels or the ability to vote.
6. Make the voting age 30 or 25 with five years of adult employment.

RE: Obama is Fail

You're right that many Americans do not understand cause and effect. Democrats are guilty of this with their social programs that have the exact opposite effect of their intentions. Republicans are guilty of this with a foreign policy that has the exact opposite effect of it's intentions.

But your solution is to deprive the people of their voting rights. This is the same liberal mentality that we need to avoid (i.e., I know better than you and you will do my bidding whether you like it or not).

The solution is to force the government to abide by the original agreement (the Constitution). All this nonsense is caused by a plain violation of contract.

Everything is going according to the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion and Albert Pike and the Holy Talmud and Kabbalah. Yes all you goyim have been fed and dumbed down so much you don't even know who owns your central bank, or England's or the EU's because we keep you poisoned with flouride laced water, Mcgoy happy meals, we offer you Walgoymart so you think you live better, we give you entertainment and pornography to your heart's content. We harvest your organs too. You don't even know all of the dual citizens in your State Dept. who tell your goy presidents what to do. Ha ha! And when you goyim wake up and discover that you are living in a filthy barn of a country, we can all move to the beautiful country you created for us with all your blood and money. Poor stupid goyim of Amerika. Thank G-d you did not make me a goy!

I've personally been a an admirer of Ron Paul for at least a decade and would vote for him in a heartbeat if ever I found myself registered in his district. I'm a small "L" libertarian but I always vote for the big "L" candidate if there is one, even though they usually disapoint me.
I've watched the tea party movement with great interest especially the media coverage and the efforts by the GOP to absorb it. The Ron Paul for president movement in '08 has without doubt energised a significant number of tea party members but they will not find what they seek in either of the dominant political parties. As always, the media struggles to create the conventional wisdom and the partisans struggle to own it. All of which makes for great political theater but bad government.
If the tea party becomes aligned with the GOP it will be the end of the movement and the pundits will breath a huge sigh of relief. But Ron Paul will still be Ron Paul and hopefully somebody somewhere will step into his shoes when he's done on the national stage. The views he espouses are real, palpable and embraced by a majority of otherwise unaligned citizens.

It's about time someone in the LA Times gave Ron some props...thanks for this article.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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