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