The other day I read an article in the campus newspaper, the Independent Florida Alligator by columnist Paul Murty titled, "Modern Tea Party Deeply Flawed" in which he trashes the Tea Party movement mostly because he doesn't understand it. I found it interesting that that in the same breath he could state he didn't understand the mission and yet claimed it was flawed. Apparently he did not do his homework for if he had, he would have found not only plenty of good information on the Tea Party movement but other interesting tax-related sites like Florida Tax Watch, the Tax Foundation, Citizens Against Government Waste, and the Fair Tax movement, just to name a few.
The mission of the Tea Party movement is “to attract, educate, organize, and mobilize our fellow citizens to secure public policy consistent with our three core values of Fiscal Responsibility, Constitutionally Limited Government and Free Markets.”
Mr. Murty would have us believe that Tea party activists are against paying taxes, which is completely false. Most reasonable Americans, including the Tea party activists understand that taxes are required in order to fund certain government programs and services. That said, the issue at hand is not whether Americans should pay taxes, but rather for what and how much? As taxes go, it’s more than just your standard sales tax and federal income tax. By definition a tax is a levy on a product, income or activity. There are over 160 types of taxes Americans pay in the form of taxes, surcharges, or fees. Year after year, the American people voice their complaints over the ridiculously high number of taxes, fees, and surcharges and every election cycle our politicians address the issue, but after the election is over, there is never any responsible action taken.
Paul Murty asks the question about the timing of the Tea Party movement. The anger and frustration over out of control spending is nothing new, it has been simmering for some time now. For decades, our federal government has misappropriated taxpayer funds in so many countless ways. Every politician in Washington is desperate to get the most pork for their district which in turn secures their next election. Our government gives away our hard-earned taxpayer dollars in ways that were just never intended. Never did our founding fathers intend the federal government to spread its reach so far and wide, taking on the responsibility of giving money to so many agencies, businesses, organizations, and programs.
For angry Americans, the TARP and Economic Stimulus Packages were just the final straws. The federal government spent $700 billion of taxpayer funds to bail out troubled companies by buying up their toxic assets. The taxpayers became the primary stockholder in a failing automobile company and several banks used their funds to pay off debt and lend, while others used their funds to buy other banks. Throughout this bailout, ripe for corruption and no doubt was full of it, the banks still weren’t lending money even though they had it to lend.
All the while, Americans asked themselves how any corporation in America could get so big that its financial troubles could throw the US economy into ruins overnight.
That is a very good question.
To add insult to injury, after TARP came the $800 billion stimulus plan in which much of the money was spent just plugging holes in state budgets, which may have saved some local and state economies from tanking, but didn’t make significant progress overall and by progress I mean moving ahead. The Economic Stimulus package lists a lot of priority projects like repairs to the nation’s energy grid, repair of public housing, weatherizing homes, building and upgrading science facilities and research, highway construction, modernizing infrastructure, reducing transit congestion, helping local schools, increasing Pell Grants, modernization of higher education, and expanding broadband internet access. While all this sounds great in theory, it just doesn’t seem to have done anything to stimulate the economy.
Every day we are told things are getting better in fact, Americans are just holding their own, trying to maintain the status quo as best they can. Those who have jobs are praying they keep them, few people are buying new homes, families are not taking vacations, retail sales are down, fewer people are saving for retirement, fewer Americans are willing to take risks to climb the ladder of success with new jobs or new ventures because it could cost them everything. Before we are fooled into thinking the economy is improving, maybe we should ask the 10% of Americans or 11.8% of Floridians who can’t find jobs how things are going for them.
If you ask the ordinary American their opinion of the quickest and best way to stimulate the economy, the answer you hear might be, “cut taxes and put more of my money back in my pocket”.
It is certainly not outrageous for American workers to believe that they, not the government, would make better choices on how to spend their money. In fact they would likely do one of three things with it: put it in a savings account which gives more money to financial institutions to loan out; invest it in an IRA which gives companies capital to expand; or spend it immediately which boosts the economy by moving merchandise, stimulating manufacturing and putting people back to work in all areas of industry. The problem with cutting taxes long term is that it can only work if the government cuts spending long-term, which we know is not going to happen. So long as our government spends like a drunken sailor on liberty, there has to be revenue coming from somewhere, either through borrowing which just increases the deficit, or through increased tax revenues, and thus the problem just perpetuates itself.
The concerns of the Tea Party Patriots should be concerns of all Americans. the Tea Party Movement is not a Republican movement, it is an American movement. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are not Republican ideals, they are American ideals. The ideals and values which drive this movement are shared by millions of Americans, both male and female, of all ethnicities, religions, educational backgrounds, and economic statuses and as Americans we have a responsibility to embrace, protect and defend it at all costs.