Archive for the ‘Tea party’ Category

Don’t let the protesters Occupy Middle Class Frustration

Newt Gingrich made headlines at Tuesday night’s GOP presidential debate for saying he’d fire the Federal Reserve chairman and jail a pair of lawmakers for their role in the financial crisis. But, just before that, he made an important point about the “Occupy Wall Street” protests.

“I think the people who are protesting on Wall Street break into two groups,” the former Georgia congressman said. “One is left-wing agitators who would be happy to show up next week on any other topic, and the other is sincere middle-class people, who frankly are very close to the tea party people in actually caring.”

We on the right need to recognize such a distinction if we’re to avoid the same mistake the left made about the early tea partyers: Branding the entire group as a bunch of cranks.

“Cranks,” of course, doesn’t begin to cover the inanity of those OWS folks who have suggested such remedies as granting a “living wage” of at least $20 an hour to everyone, employed or not. (During the course …

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Some tax breaks and pledges make government bigger, not smaller

(Note: Earlier this week I promised to publish some thoughts about anti-tax pledges. You can see them at the end of this column from Thursday’s print edition of the AJC, which also draws on an earlier blog post.)

We’ve become accustomed to hearing tea partyers say they want their country back. One step on that road is to take back tax cuts.

I’m not talking about particular tax cuts that expired, but rather the concept. Conservatives have allowed the mantra of lower taxes to be hijacked — and used to undermine our real goal of limiting government. And we’ve done it by watching tax loopholes — tax breaks, credits and exemptions — become another way for government to favor certain people, companies and activities over others.

It has happened in Georgia. And it has happened at the federal level since the 1986 reform that eliminated many loopholes in exchange for lower rates. In too many cases, tax breaks have become another way for government to make citizens dependent.

Such …

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Left’s criticisms of Obama blunt charges of tea-party racism

President Obama will outline his (latest) plan to boost employment in a speech tonight to Congress, under pressure that comes not only from weeks of anticipation and dire economic data but from strained relations with his core supporters.

From labor unions to environmentalists to the Congressional Black Caucus, the political left is venting its frustration with Obama and his policies, or lack thereof. An unintended consequence may be the unraveling of the narrative that tea-party opposition to our first black president is rooted in racism.

It was always ludicrous to suggest that a movement as large as the tea party would be born from hatred for Obama’s skin color rather than disapproval of his policies. And the movement is large: Near-monthly polling by CBS News and the New York Times since April 2010 finds that, at any given time, between one-fifth and one-third of Americans say they support the tea party (see page 10 of the PDF at the link).

It would be foolish to say that …

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Tea partyers ask for consistency on timing of sales-tax votes (Updated)

The Legislature’s special redistricting session kicked off today. But with little business to conduct on the first day — first drafts of new statehouse maps have been released, but no bills yet — the show was stolen by some tea partyers complaining about another item on the session’s agenda.

Gov. Nathan Deal’s call to legislators included moving the date of a 2012 referendum on regional transportation sales taxes from the primaries next July to the November general election. This is a cynical move by Georgia Republicans, who are effectively enlisting Obama Democrats — expected to turn out in much higher numbers in November than in July — to pass a tax their own base doesn’t want.

The tea partyers’ response? Turnout turnabout is fair play.

“Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and the Democrats in Washington during the Obamacare debate kept constantly changing the rules in the middle of the game to achieve the outcome they wanted,” Debbie Dooley, a national coordinator with Tea Party …

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No standards, and poor reasoning, in U.S. downgrade

I can’t remember the last time something as telegraphed beforehand as the Standard & Poor’s downgrade of the federal government’s credit rating was discussed as if it were so shocking to so many people. S&P said a couple of weeks ago that it wanted to see a package of $4 trillion in deficit reductions to go along with the debt deal, or else a downgrade was coming.

Ratings agencies don’t get to set budget policy in this country, and Congress decided to do something else. Congress doesn’t get to set credit ratings in this country, and S&P decided to make good on its threat. The company really wouldn’t have had a shred of its credibility — you might say the very last shred of its credibility — left if it hadn’t done so. In the end, I think that’s what this move was really about: The company unwisely placed a stake in the ground of the debt-ceiling talks, and then had no choice but to do what it had threatened to do.

Why do I think that’s what it was about? Because it certainly …

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On Fannie Mae and the failure of our elites

David Brooks has an important column today about Fannie Mae, and what he calls “the most important political scandal since Watergate”:

It helped sink the American economy. It has cost taxpayers about $153 billion, so far. It indicts patterns of behavior that are considered normal and respectable in Washington.

The column is pegged to the new book “Reckless Endangerment” by Gretchen Morgenson and Joshua Rosner, which details causes of the financial crash including, but not limited to, Fannie Mae. Much has been said about the failings of the government-sponsored enterprise, on this blog and elsewhere. But Morgenson and Rosner, and in turn Brooks, add much more about how Fannie Mae came to be so untouchable in Washington. As Brooks summarizes it:

Fannie Mae co-opted relevant activist groups…. Fannie ginned up Astroturf lobbying campaigns….

Fannie lavished campaign contributions on members of Congress. Time and again experts would go before some Congressional committee to warn …

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It’s a good thing the tea party started in 2009 . . .

… because it sounds like a much smaller percentage of Americans will even know what the Boston Tea Party was by, say, 2029. Reports the Associated Press:

Just 13 percent of high school seniors who took the 2010 National Assessment of Educational Progress, called the Nation’s Report Card, showed a solid grasp of the subject. Results released Tuesday showed the two other grades didn’t perform much better, with just 22 percent of fourth-grade students and 18 percent of eighth-graders demonstrating proficiency.

The test quizzed students on topics including colonization, the American Revolution and the Civil War, and the contemporary United States. For example, one question asked fourth-graders to name an important result of the U.S. building canals in the 1800s. Only 44 percent knew that it was increased trade among states.

Historic literacy and illiteracy were already in the news after Sarah Palin stirred up controversy by saying Paul Revere “warned the British” during his famous …

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One conservative’s approach to mass transit: Control costs

A conservative mass-transit advocate — your eyes deceive you not; such creatures exist — came to Atlanta recently to tell liberals how to sell public transportation to tea partyers.

Briefly: It’s about the money.

Money already was on the minds of those in William Lind’s audiences: They want transit to get a big chunk of the $8 billion that a new 1-cent sales tax could generate in 10 years. And they know that, to get any money, they’ll need a lot of conservatives to vote “yes” in a referendum next year to establish the tax in 10 metro Atlanta counties.

If they listened closely to Lind, director of the American Conservative Center for Public Transportation, they won’t get stuck on tactics, such as using words like “conservation” or “stewardship” — instead of “environmentalism” — to talk up transit. Changing up the vocabulary won’t Jedi-mind-trick conservatives into voting yea.

Instead, they’ll have taken to heart this message, as Lind put it to me in …

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Georgia lawmakers put tax-reform plan on ice

Well, that was unexpected.

State tax reform is dead — for now.

The Georgia House of Representatives had to pass the tax-reform bill today if it was to make it through the Senate before the end of this legislative session. Instead, the House leadership decided not to bring it up for a vote. The issue will have to wait for either this summer’s special session for redistricting or next year’s regular session.

Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, blamed the delay on questionable data on the bill produced by the “fiscal so-called experts at Georgia State University.” Ralston said “we can’t tell” whether the latest version of the bill would result in a tax increase or cut for most Georgians, and went so far as to say legislators would seek “alternative places” to get their fiscal estimates in the future.

Yes, that’s the tail of a Georgia State panther you see sticking out from under the House Republican bus.

Maybe the data were questionable. But there’s no getting around the fact …

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Georgia has good options on ObamaCare’s first anniversary

A year ago this week, Democrats in Washington gave us ObamaCare, whether we wanted it or not. I would compare it to a big dose of castor oil, if castor oil made you more sick and its price rose nearly every day.

Little about the year-old health law has turned out as promised. A few of its already apparent shortcomings:

  • Just 3 percent of those with pre-existing conditions who were expected to buy insurance thanks to the law have done so.
  • The Obama administration has issued more than 1,000 waivers from the law’s requirements to companies and — especially — labor unions that insure their employees, because the president’s “you can keep the coverage you have” pledge turned out to be wrong.
  • The 10-year cost of the law’s provisions has been revised upward by tens of billions of dollars — even before Congress eschews the Medicare cuts and new taxes on which projected deficit reductions are based.
  • State governments’ health-care costs already are rising by hundreds of …

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