Misinformed on Taxes

Fellow conservative apostate Bruce Bartlett points out that, not only do Americans wildly overestimate their tax burden but that Tea Party supporters are especially likely to do so.

This poll sampled all Americans for their views on taxation and oversampled those who claim to be tea party supporters. Question 54 (page 25) is reproduced below. As one can see, five percent of all respondents and 11 percent of tea party supporters think that most Americans pay less than 10 percent of their income in federal income taxes each year. In fact, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation of the U.S. Congress, more than 86 percent of tax filers this year have an effective rate less than 10 percent.

Sure enough:

Average Tax Rate
All Americans
Tea Party Supporters
Actual Distribution
Less than 10%
5%
11%
86.5%
10 — 20%
26%
25%
12.9%
20 — 30%
25%
26%
0.6%
30 — 40%
10%
14%
40 — 50%
2%
3%
More than 50%
1%
1%
Don’t know
31%
20%

Bartlett piles on:

I’m not going to waste my time with those who will insist that people were thinking about payroll taxes, estate and gift taxes, property taxes and all the other taxes that exist at the federal, state and local level. [Yesterday was] the day we pay federal income taxes and that’s what people were out protesting. And there is no getting around the fact that the vast majority of people think that the federal income tax burden is very considerably higher than it actually is.

While I don’t at all dispute his premise — people tend to be innumerate and be wildly misinformed on all manner of public policy issues — I think this is unfair on at least two counts.

First, while I happen to agree that federal income taxes are a special category for a variety of reasons, most people simply think of “taxes” as something paid to “the government.”  That makes them unsophisticated, perhaps, but it’s not an unreasonable way of looking at the burden.  It’s money you earned that you have to fork over to the Powers That Be.

Second, people aren’t protesting the amount of taxes people pay on average.  They’re protesting their own tax burden.  Which, naturally, they extrapolate to be the norm since, after all, who could better exemplify The Average American than themselves?  And, since we know that Tea Party supporters tend to earn more income than average — and thus face a tremendously higher tax burden — their overestimation strikes me as defensible.  Especially since most of them probably do pay somewhere between 10 percent and 30 percent of their income to the federal government.

FILED UNDER: General, , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. tom p says:

    James, your eloquent defense of ignorance is… Words fail me.

    If a liberal group engaged in the same behaviour, would you defend them?

  2. john personna says:

    So educate, on total tax burden, but also on services enjoyed.

    There are things like the myth that roads are paid by gas taxes that just don’t hold up. When you jump on the Interstate to go complain about taxes, it is might be more than innumeracy in play.

  3. And all the deficit spending? Doesn’t that count?

  4. john personna says:

    And all the deficit spending? Doesn’t that count?

    Well, that’s kind of my point about services enjoyed. Tea Party protesters were down there in Florida this week saying NASA spending should not be cut. Innumeracy? Or a disconnect on what government spends according to their wishes them?

  5. Michael Reynolds says:

    This isn’t like not knowing how many elements are on the periodic table or being unable to do algebra. This is something real and specific in these people’s lives. And yet they basically know nothing. And what they believe is wildly distorted all in one direction, all i the negative.

    So we have:
    1) Tea Partiers know essentially nothing about their tax burden.
    2) Their tax burden has not gone up.
    3) Most of them in fact have no tax burden.
    4) While many of them are actually net consumers of government services.
    5) None of this is any different than it was 2 or 3 or 5 years ago.
    6) First black president is elected.
    7) And suddenly we have these people hysterical, screaming, denouncing and enraged.

    It takes an idiot to not see that race is a big part of this. It takes willful denial, deliberate obtuseness.

    I realize I’m the liberal-arts, fiction writer guy, but just as there is illiteracy, and innumeracy, there is the Aspergerish inability on the part of wonkish types to get a freaking clue about homo sapiens and his motives. I will freely admit that many of you outshine me in areas of deep wonkishness, but the flip side of that coin is that when it comes to humans a lot of you are as dumb as a bag of hammers.

  6. john personna says:

    3) Most of them in fact have no tax burden.

    Asperger’s will stumble on this. Everybody lives in a state without sales tax, buy’s no gas, etc?

  7. anjin-san says:

    Tea Party supporters tend to earn more income than average — and thus face a tremendously higher tax burden — their overestimation strikes me as defensible.

    One would assume that higher income generally equates to a higher level of education and more resources.

    If I want a better understanding of my tax burden I do about half an hour of research, then email my accountant and ask him to weigh in. Pretty simple.

    Why are you defending willful ignorance?

  8. Davebo says:

    Second, people aren’t protesting the amount of taxes people pay on average. They’re protesting their own tax burden.

    Which hasn’t changed unless they’ve experienced a large increase in income.

    They complain about the size of government and federal debt as well. But not a peep as the national debt doubled in 8 short years.

    Can we finally call these people what they are James? Or must you continue the contortions required to attempt to defend them?

    Because at this point, you’re looking like a performer at Cirque du Soleil.

  9. john personna says:

    Actually tax burden has decreased, though as charles reminds us, deficits matter.

  10. Steve Plunk says:

    Wow. It seems the liberal commentators know everything about Tea Party people and conservatives. Obviously they know more about those people than the people themselves.

    Perhaps if they would quit working so hard to marginalize them they would listen a bit more. It’s not one issue like taxes or deficit spending. It’s a list of issues that includes rising taxes, rapidly increasing deficit spending that’s contributing to a high national debt, health care reform mandates, cap and trade, congressional deafness to their concerns, earmarks, national defense, and immigration.

    Bartlett uses a cheap debating technique of trying to undermine an argument before it’s made by saying we shouldn’t include all taxes when saying we’re overtaxed. Of course we should. Government may want to hide behind the idea they are different entities but the fact is they have grown so incestuous with shared money it’s fair to lump all government into one basket and all taxes into one basket.

    I also recognize the “why weren’t you complaining during the Bush years” lament. Haven’t people looked at the difference between Bush deficits and those we face for the next decade? It’s a huge difference. A good portion of those Bush deficits had to do with two wars. And before someone goes off on the wars let’s remember they were two wars approved by congress and supported by a majority of the people.

    Tea Party members have legitimate complaints and are remarkably civil when demonstrating. They are poised to shake things up this election cycle by engaging citizens who have been out of politics for some time. It all seems very democratic to me. Yet this healthy political involvement is met with derision from the left who can find little to attack them with other than their incomplete knowledge of tax burdens. If that’s the best Tea Party critics can come up with then they better rethink their strategy.

  11. john personna says:

    Heh, Steve doesn’t like generalizing about Tea Partiers, so he generalizes about their critics.

    (Actually it’s OK for Steve to generalize about Tea Pertiers, “Tea Party members have legitimate complaints and are remarkably civil when demonstrating.”

    Never mind that they are significantly more likely (24 to 16 percent) to say that it is “ever justified to take violent action against the government.”)

  12. Stan says:

    The Bush administration cut taxes during the two wars that Steve Plunk mentions. This was a stupid thing to do. During wars governments practice military Keynsianism. They spend large sums on goods that serve no useful civilian purpose, and they expand the armed forces, thus creating labor shortages and inflationary pressures. The second Bush tax cut, the one that Vice President Cheney said was justified because deficits don’t matter, was particularly egregious. I didn’t see any Tea Party types out there protesting the Bush tax cuts, and I didn’t see any of them working against Medicare D, a useful program, but one that was totally unfunded.

    Franklin Roosevelt was President during the first nine years of my life. When I compare his sense of responsibility during World War II with the Bush years, I feel like weeping for my country.

  13. James:

    You are hereby estopped from making this argument.

    You have over and over made the argument that too many people in the United States face no federal tax burden. Whenever, I point out that they do indeed pay taxes — payroll taxes, property taxes, sales taxes, etc — you say, “Well, I wasn’t talking about that.” Okay, well, you can’t have it both ways.

    Taxes are taxes are taxes is a perfectly legitimate argument. But if you are going to use it, at least use it consistently.

    And if you are going to use it consistently, it would be great it you would stop claiming that poor people don’t pay taxes, just because they don’t pay income tax. If you look at overall tax burden, including all taxes paid to any government entity, the whole notion that the rich are unduly burdened is harder to make.

  14. c.red says:

    Steve P.
    I for one would like to get a better idea of what you, and, the Tea Party in general, actually want.

    What I currently see is that they are protesting about taxes while paying some of the lowest taxes in the history, protesting spending while also protesting any measure taken to actually reduce spending/demanding no one reduce government services, and demanding reductions in regulations when it seems that many of the recent economic problems can be directly attributed to lack of regulations.

    This makes the group seem, at best, confused.

    I might be willing to accept that the Tea Party is not ideologically stunted when they show me some coherence beyond “Democratic president bad we must fight him” and, perhaps, come up with some actual proposals to address the issues they are supposedly concerned about.

    Of course, it would help if Tea Party stopped the threats of violence, inflammatory rhetoric, the general racism, and admitted they have it pretty good living in America, but I’m willing to let all that be attributed to fringe elements for now.

  15. Juneau says:

    From the article at the link presented by john personna 12:12 PM:

    in addition, they are significantly more likely (24 to 16 percent) to say that it is “ever justified to take violent action against the government.”

    This question is somewhat misleading, by using the word ever . According to the point of the post, agreeing with the applicable Declaration of Independence statements and the founding fathers would be a sign of mental instability.

  16. Juneau says:

    Steve P. :

    protesting spending while also protesting any measure taken to actually reduce spending/demanding no one reduce government services

    Please show me references about not wanting to reduce Government services. Seems to me that protesting the government services of “Mortgage Bailouts, TARP, ObamaCare, etc. is one of the foundational principles of the Tea Party.

  17. Seems to me that protesting the government services of “Mortgage Bailouts, TARP, ObamaCare, etc. is one of the foundational principles of the Tea Party.

    But that’s not where the money is. The money is in Medicare, Social Security, Defense, and interest payments. If you don’t cut those, the rest is wholly meaningless. You can wipe out all “earmarks” and you can nuke “Obamacare” and you can end “foreign aid” and “bailouts” and “TARP” and guess what? You still have massive deficits.

    That’s the point. If you want to cut spending, you have to talk Social Security, Medicare, and Defense, and the Tea Party folks don’t want to do that.

  18. Juneau says:

    Bernard Finel:

    You mean talk about it like Bush tried to do with the idea of privatizing part of it? Forgetting the pro’s and con’s of the idea , starting that discussion really went over well didn’t it?

    Regardless of the merits of any idea, the left will decry it, In the political climate, the left will not allow anyone to get creative with the programs – which cannot be sustained.

  19. TangoMan says:

    Well, that’s kind of my point about services enjoyed. Tea Party protesters were down there in Florida this week saying NASA spending should not be cut. Innumeracy? Or a disconnect on what government spends according to their wishes them?

    There is nothing contradictory about this situation. One can believe that NASA funding shouldn’t be cut and also believe that government is too large. The way to reconcile these two positions is to understand that the TEA Party protesters likely have a different conception of the role of government than do liberals. I’d argue that their view of government focuses more heavily on government providing for public goods that cannot easily be provided by the private sector and a diminished role for government in redistributing their hard earned income to other people. This way government can be cut down to size, repurposed to its best suited purpose and projects for the common good can be maintained.

  20. Juneau:

    The problem with the Bush approach was the “free lunch” aspect to it. Let’s say it had passed. Lots of people invest in the stock market. It collapses. Then what? The reality is that the government would then have stepped in and provided a guaranteed yield.

    I don’t particularly mind the Bush approach, as long as you’re honest about it and say, “hey guys, here is my proposal. Decent chance you are going to lose your shirt on it.” But if you make it seem as if this is a way to get more for less, you lose my support.

    I think the smarter approach is mean-testing the whole program, though obviously a ton of problems with that.

    But all that aside, what does Bush’s 2005 proposal have to do with the Tea Party today? I don’t see a big push for privatization from the Tea Party movement. Do you?

    And yeah, sure, blame the liberals for blocking it if you want… but shouldn’t the Tea Party people at least be making some serious proposals for cutting spending? I don’t think it really holds water to say, “Well, we would make proposals, but the liberals would block them anyway, so we won’t bother.” I mean, what kind of a position is that to take?

  21. Some of the knee jerk defenders of everything Obama seem to have failed to notice that some of us were criticizing Bush rather harshly for his spending habits. Doubling down on Bush’s folly is what finally pushed a lot more popel over the breaking point to say, “Enough!”

    These so called payroll taxes, or as I refer to them, FICA and Medicare, aren’t really taxes but premiums, right? Or would it be fair to call the new mandated health insurance premiums taxes?

    When you propose means testing Social Security Bernard, well, I’ve been paying into Social Security for 35 years now, and now you want to tell me that it was really a general revenue slush fund all along? Mind you, I think it basically is, but perhaps this will help you understand why some of us are tired of the big lies told over and over and over by Democrats and Republicans in Washington.

  22. People, popel, whatever.

  23. Charles:

    I’ve been paying into it to. But look, in the end, we need to make cuts, and if you want to make cuts, you have to make cuts where the money is.

    It is either that or raise taxes.

    I’ll go for either, actually. I am flexible and pragmatic that way, though I’d prefer a combination of the two.

    But you can’t rail about the deficit and then refuse to put your money where your mouth is and actually propose cuts or taxes.

    I mean, we have to all agree on that, no?

    –BF

  24. And just for the record, though I consider myself a strong Obama supporter, I have said, over and over that his budget is “indefensible” and “not serious.”

  25. TangoMan says:

    The problem with the Bush approach was the “free lunch” aspect to it. Let’s say it had passed. Lots of people invest in the stock market. It collapses. Then what? The reality is that the government would then have stepped in and provided a guaranteed yield.

    I’m sure that this is unintentional on your part, but what you wrote is pure comedy.

    The government and its ability to raise taxes is not separate from the economic health of the nation. If the market tanks then that restricts the ability of the government to step in, for the long term, and remedy the market effects.

    The government can step in, on a short term basis, and smooth over aberrations, but there is only so much slack that it can pull on the rope of economic influence before that rope becomes taut. So, the only beneficiaries, in the short term, of government action are those who would have their securities maturing during the time of crisis.

  26. john personna says:

    There is nothing contradictory about this situation. One can believe that NASA funding shouldn’t be cut and also believe that government is too large.

    Seriously Tango, I think it is just “old, traditional, spending” versus “new [socialist] spending.”

    John Kennedy launched the space program for all the reasons of classic American liberalism. It centralized effort, science, etc. It did NOT send us to the free market future, with entrepreneurs in space.

    The space program is just old enough now that everyone is used to it.

    So explain to me again why “Tea Partiers” aren’t in the free market for space camp?

  27. c.red says:

    Some of the knee jerk defenders of everything Obama seem to have failed to notice that some of us were criticizing Bush rather harshly for his spending habits. Doubling down on Bush’s folly is what finally pushed a lot more popel over the breaking point to say, “Enough!”

    Whether you criticized or not in the past is basically immaterial, though I find your “breaking point” to be somewhat suspicious; you are still not offering an alternative. In your own post, charles, you are against cuts to social security because you have paid into it and therefore that money is yours. Due to your general sympathy for the Tea Party and general dismissal of Obamacare (as it is designed, it raises taxes and increases regulations in the short term to reduce the deficit in the long term), I presume you are also against raising taxes?

    There are no real other alternatives, we either need to cut services, which many citizens are invested in and currently or will depend on, or we raise taxes. The general non-acceptance of that reality, even if you don’t share it, makes it difficult to take the Tea Party as it currently is seriously.

  28. Steve Plunk says:

    c red, You started with a reasonable question and spiraled downward quickly. General racism? I usually don’t take the time to respond to race baiting but come on, most of us don’t give a rip what color the president is. It’s not about race.

    Back to what I want and maybe the other Tea Party people want. I haven’t attended any Tea Party functions but I know some of the people. What I say may be representative of others but I shouldn’t speak for them.

    I understand we can’t turn this ship of state around very quickly when it comes to spending. To do so would upset not only people but also business and markets. The problem is we are trending the wrong way. Over the next decades we need to slow the growth of government and realize we can’t continue to expect high levels of service from our government. Hell, we don’t even have a plan for controlling spending.

    Government has a dismal record of actually helping citizens. Those stereotypes of the DMV, Postal Service, guys leaning on shovels, and uncaring bureaucrats got to be stereotypes for a reason. Turning over health care to government was seen as a bad idea by most Americans yet our congress rushed it through. Cap and trade not only entails government inefficiency but also a great place for fraud and corruption. People like me want to see the government trend smaller. It doesn’t have to happen overnight but growing it with deficit spending dooms our children.

    Social security and Medicare have become entitled social safety nets for our citizens. People with common sense know it’s too late to back out of these. It’s funny how the Left complains why would conservatives support these programs while so opposing the new health care reforms. There’s a big difference between new or expanded programs and cutting what people have become accustomed to.

    Regulations aren’t always just about Wall Street and big corporations. Small business face regulations that not only cost money but also threaten their very existence. The permanent bureaucracy, the government workers have an interest in expanding these regulations at all levels of government whether they need to be expanded or not. In my state legislature the executive branch is the number one entity to request bills. How is that representative democracy when the government, not the citizens, are the driving force behind new laws? We are over regulated and it impedes our quest for prosperity.

    This country is facing a financial storm with coming government pension shortfalls. The federal government is borrowing our way to inflation and ruin. The problems were not created overnight and will not be fixed overnight but we should at least be pointed in the right direction. President Obama and the Democrats in congress are still pointing us in the wrong direction and making things worse. That’s worth getting upset about and that’s why the Tea Party has materialized.

  29. Turning over health care to government was seen as a bad idea by most Americans yet our congress rushed it through.

    Why would you say that? You must know that isn’t true, right? Nothing was “turned over.” Poor people were given subsidies to buy private insurance. Companies were regulated about how who they can turn down. Individuals were mandated to get coverage.

    But there is no government run program in the new bill. No significant new government payments to doctors. No government control over providers.

    It is not a government take-over. At most it is a new “entitlement” for the working poor to afford coverage.

    It would be easier to take you guys more seriously if were not so melodramatic. Government take-over, socialism, good grief. Get a grip.

  30. Lunacy says:

    JJ says….”And, since we know that Tea Party supporters tend to earn more income than average”

    I ask, how do we all know that? Based on my observations in my hometown, most Tea Partiers out yesterday were lower middle class, just like me.

  31. Lunacy says:

    And I’m bloody tired of people like Mike Reynolds defaulting to racism. I’d elect J. C. Watts in a heartbeat.

    Besides, last time I looked Barry’s mom was whiter than me.

  32. c.red says:

    Perhaps general racism was a tad strong on my part, but to say there is not a racial element to the Tea Party is denying reality. I am willing to concede that most are not, but it was beside my point anyway.

    I would dispute your statement that “government has a dismal record of actually helping citizens.” Security, education, standards, peace of mind that you get what you pay for, a measure of equality for the disadvantaged with the advantaged, some expectation of justice…I could go on for awhile. It is far from perfect, but it is better than the alternative.

    Yes, the government is getting larger and more complex, but that is a natural function of society becoming larger and more complex. Yes bureaucracies suck, but I have never seen a non-government bureaucracy function any better than a government bureaucracy.

    I agree that government regulations can seem smothering, particularly to someone just starting out that has to put procedures in place to support them, but regulations don’t exist in a vacuum, they are created, for good or bad, to address specific shortcomings. Most people can see the value in them without the government prodding, but there is always that one joker in the bunch that thinks the real world doesn’t apply to him and we get things like mine disaster in West Virginia. Do you feel there shouldn’t be something in place to deal with that?

    Small business is a tricky prospect and hard to address; it should be the driving factor of the economy, but we have had a decade or more of large corporations legislating protections against any form of competition. We are currently intentionally set up to discourage small businesses and it will take a lot of work to get out of this trap. Obama won’t do it, but he is moving us in a direction where the next president (or possibly the one after that) could. I would say Corporatism is an even more fundamental problem in America than entitlement. I would contend, by looking at the historical record (specifically the late 19th century in America) and at less regulated nations that small businesses would be harder to start without a solid government due to unfair business practices by established competitors.

  33. Steve Plunk says:

    Bernard, Joe Biden called it a BFD. Costs are conservatively estimated at around a trillion dollars. The government is mandating citizens buy insurance so the healthy can subsidize the poor and sick. I guess it depends on how a person defines take over but this seems like a pretty large government intrusion to me. So put your righteous indignation back in it’s box. It would be easier to take your camp seriously if they would just understand this reform will forever change health insurance and put government at the center of it.

    BTW, we are trending toward socialism so get used to the phrase. It won’t go away until we start moving the other way. You know what people mean when they use the word so get a grip as well. At least the case for using the word socialism is better than the case for calling Tea Partiers racist.

  34. TangoMan says:

    So explain to me again why “Tea Partiers” aren’t in the free market for space camp?

    To be honest with you, I have no clue. This is the problem that arises from a grass roots, decentralized movement – there is no central policy committee which speaks on behalf of THE TEA PARTY.

    If I had to guess I’d say that these protesters aren’t really up to speed on all of the nuance of the space debate and are reacting more to governments shifting focus away from providing public goods and instead favoring redistribution.

  35. The Q says:

    I think both Mr. Reynolds and Mr. Plunk make good points.

    I believe liberals and democrats are missing the beat a little with the TPartiers.

    As Stan referenced FDR, if you look at the Roosevelt Coalition, and color it red, it would be very similar to the present red/blue divide, only FDR carried most of the states which are solidly red now, i.e the south and midwestern states.

    It was Nixon and the Dixiecrats who changed this coalition forever, thereby ushering in the republican hegemony of the last 30 years.

    My point is how come the Dems, who really represented the ECONOMIC interests of the redneck hillbillies and southern racists against the ravages and unchecked rapaciousness of free market capitalism, have completely lost this cohort, even though they greatly benefited by those liberal “New Deal” policies.

    It seems to me that the most important issues for current Dems at times are:

    “how can I make it safe for lesbians to kiss at Disneyland” or “women should have the right to suck the head of an 8 month old fetus into a vacuum tube and the government should pay for it” if they so desire.

    The repubs have VERY skillfully used the race card as a wedge issue to divide the once solidly dem white working middle class as Mr. Reynolds so aptly points out.

    i find it a mark of the times and a great illustration as to how far RIGHT cuckoo the repugs have gotten as we debate the resigning of that great “liberal” justice J.P. Stevens who ironically was appointed by a REPUBLICAN.

    It would be my contention, that if Stevens were to be nominated now, the Repubs would be completely against him, again showing how far right they have shifted.

    Also, the dems who have demonized reagan fail to point out that his Supreme appointees O’Connor and Kennedy are far to the left of W’s Roberts and Alito….remember how the dems feared that reagan’s conservatve appointments were the doom of mankind.

    Similarly, I am afraid that Mr. Plunk and his exhortations of ‘socialism” at every turn are just as guilty of hyperbolic excess as those who hated those court appointees of reagan.

    It seems there is an absence of appreciation on both sides as to any beneficial policy of the other.

    Mr. Joyner is one of the few on the right (Bartlett another) who seem to be able to praise and criticize the other side with a fairly open mind.

    We need more of this. I think the Repubs did a disservice to this nation by their infantile prattle regarding HCR.

    Mr. Plunk, as informed as you seem, unfortunately falls into this abyss of hysteria.

    Darrel Issa a republican congressman from so Cal. had it about right…he said, and I agree, “why isn’t anyone discussing how we can get better healthcare for all, while spending LESS”

    He references that the USA outspends our nearest OEDC competitors by over 60%% (Germany, UK, Japan, Canada) while denying coverage to tens of millions!!!!!!!

    Where are the ideas on the right as to how to make HC affordable and universal via the market sytstem.

    Instead we get the paranoia and the petty politics of the JUST SAY NO crowd of demagogues and curmudgeons.

    Here’s a provocative quote, I’ll buy lunch if anyone (without googling) can name the speaker:

    “The true conservative seeks to protect the system of private property and free enterprise by correcting such injustices and inequalities as arise from it. The most serious threat to our institutions comes from those who refuse to face the need for change…Wise and prudent men — intelligent conservatives — have long known that in a changing world worthy institutions can be conserved only by adjusting them to the changing time. In the words of the great essayist, “The voice of great events is proclaiming to us. Reform if you would preserve”

    I think those words are wise and prudent.

    And of course they were uttered by none other than that socialist bolshevik american hater Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1936.

  36. Lunacy says:

    Re: “undeniable racism”

    See, this is bullshit. How would you know? Do you know anybody who would consider themselves sympathetic to the tea partiers? Do you know any tea partiers?

    If you do, do you really believe that there is a higher degree/percentage of racism among them than any other loosely affiliated group of people?

    I have attended a few tea parties. Not with a sign but with a camera. Not only that but I live and work among many people who either sympathize with or would consider themselves tea partiers. Yet, amazingly, I haven’t seen nor have I heard anything that would make me think race had any bearing whatsoever in their grievances. Not ANY.

    In fact, every tea party event I’ve attended had a small number of blacks. And, yes, I know that this doesn’t disprove racism, but all of you who suppose, without question, that it is a factor can’t prove that either.

    As you’ve no doubt discerned, I am very sympathetic toward tea partiers. I’m independent, libertarian leaning. I could give a fig if Barack Obama were purple. And it isn’t even Barack Obama that is the issue. It is the entire administration.

    Many of you rightly state that this “sudden interest” in smaller gov’t sure seems convenient now that there is a black man in the highest office. But it is my belief that this is a reflection on a threshold that happens to have been reached under this administration. I assure you that there is a great deal of animosity toward pork barrel republicans or/and RINOs at these events too.

    And to those of you who still seem puzzled by the motivations given the actual tax situation. Let’s revisit the threshold. It isn’t just about taxes. It is about what the taxes support. It is about what many fear is an entitlement system that rewards slackards and criminals. It is about the perception that their tax dollars are benefiting illegal aliens. It is about able-bodied young people living on the dole as a lifestyle choice. It is about personal responsibility and the perception that their tax dollars are supporting perpetual adolescence.

    Yes, I sympathize with the tea parties.

    And frankly, its damned insulting to be called racist on a regular basis by assholes who don’t know jack about me.

    I am a 47 white woman, married to 60 year old white man. He and I both work for a local university. I have a masters degree. Between the 2 of us we have 3 grown children in college or grad school. We earn approximately 80,000 a year. I have a mixed family with Arabs and Blacks among them. I am an atheist. I’m registered independent.

    I am not a racist. Please stop insinuating that I am. It’s insulting and undeserved.

  37. c.red says:

    Do you know anybody who would consider themselves sympathetic to the tea partiers? Do you know any tea partiers?

    If you do, do you really believe that there is a higher degree/percentage of racism among them than any other loosely affiliated group of people?

    Yes. Yes. Yes, I believe so but I have no factual data on the percentage and I’m willing to concede it is not large and could be convinced it is no larger than any other loosely affiliated group with verifiable data.

    I know people that have espoused racist views in the past and associate with the Tea Party now. I have seen reports of racist statements by people associated with the Tea Party reported by the media. I can do a google search and find videos/pictures of signs that seem racist from tea party events. I have observed Tea Party gatherings with racist signs in Downtown Seattle.

    To deny there is some element of racism in the Tea Party is to deny reality, just as it would be to deny corruption and waste exists in the government or that there is some element of lunatic fringe on the left.

    Does this make me think all Tea Party members are racist, no. But some percentage of them are and it is up to the Tea Party to start disassociating with that message. I have seen some indications that they are beginning that process and I say good for them.

    My problem with the Tea Party is that they are making unrealistic demands without actually contributing any constructive ideas. They seem to be basing their protests on verifiable false information and misguided assumptions. They seem to be stubbornly insistent in their ignorance when people try to point that out.

    Where you see slackard and criminals, I also see people that genuinely need help and want to contribute given a chance. Where you see illegal aliens, I also see people that work very hard at shit jobs for very low pay. Where you see permanent adolescents and able body slackers, I also see people blocked out of opportunity by a crappy economy and employer malfeasance. The people you see do exist and need to be dealt with, but they aren’t the whole picture. To use an old metaphor, you don’t seem interested in separating the wheat from the chafe, but rather letting the whole crop rot.

  38. TangoMan says:

    To deny there is some element of racism in the Tea Party is to deny reality, just as it would be to deny corruption and waste exists in the government or that there is some element of lunatic fringe on the left.

    And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

    It amazes me to read these sanctimonious charges from liberals who’ve built an entire worldview and political movement on a foundation of racism.

  39. sam says:

    I hafta agree with a lot of folks upthread: This Tea Party-racism stuff is, so to speak, a black herring. Are there racists in the Tea Party? Sure. Are there racists in the Democratic and Republican parties? Sure. Are there racists in any group of 1000 randomly selected Americans? Sure. And…? Well, and so what? My problem with Tea Partiers is not that they represent some racist reaction to a black president, but, as I’ve mentioned before, that they’re populist rent-seekers with big mouths and few ideas beyond keeping what they themselves have gotten from the government. But I think those opposed to TPers should cut them a little slack because of what’s going to happen to the Tea Party movement. The history of passionate, right-wing movements in modern American politics (see, Evangelicals) is this: They get co-opted by the Republican Party, which harnesses all that energy and disaffection to win elections…then the GOP stiffs ’em.

  40. c.red – I didn’t call for cuts to Social Security above. I was making a point about the new health care mandates not being “taxes.” What I am looking for is a little consistency and honesty in language. We will never climb out of this hole until some integrity is restored to the language and the process. The big lies, the demagoguery and the euphemisms need to stop. Right now the language and the process have been so debased that honest discussion is next to impossible.

  41. Lunacy says:

    “Where you see slackard and criminals, I also see people that genuinely need help and want to contribute given a chance. Where you see illegal aliens, I also see people that work very hard at shit jobs for very low pay. Where you see permanent adolescents and able body slackers, I also see people blocked out of opportunity by a crappy economy and employer malfeasance.”

    Again, I suspect you have little or no direct exposure.

    There ARE people who want to contribute, surrounded by a throng of people who think they deserve a handout. Can we reduce that throng? Or better yet, that mentality?

    I WANT immigrants to come and work and create a better life for themselves. It’s a bonus that they create a better life for me. But there should be a way to create a legal situation for that. If my student loan originator and Blockbuster can keep track of me, there is no reason why the government can’t keep track of them. That is ONE OF THE THINGS WE WANT GOVERNMENT TO DO.

    Where you see people blocked from opportunity I see people who turned down a job because they thought their high school education (which arguably is less than it should have been in part through their own actions) entitled them to a job fair higher than minimum wage.

  42. Michael Reynolds says:

    TangoBrimelow:

    You are an overt — not covert — racist.

    So you, on the topic of race, are like Roman Polanski on the topic of sex.

  43. Michael Reynolds says:

    And I’m bloody tired of people like Mike Reynolds defaulting to racism. I’d elect J. C. Watts in a heartbeat.

    The latest polls show very clearly that Tea Partiers are at least twice as racist as the average American, many times more racist than the average white Democrat.

    The Tea Party candidate for governor of New York, Mr. Paladino, is a blatant, over racist. Sending out emails showing black people being chased by the props of a C-130 with the caption “Run, nigger run!” is racist.

    Birtherism — a stand-in for racism — is rampant in the TP movement.

    This isn’t even a real topic for debate any more. There is no real question. It’s not a matter of whether or not a very significant portion of the TP movement is motivated by racist attitudes, it’s just a question of how much longer people like you can go on pretending otherwise.

    Republicans since 1968 have made a profitable game of dog whistle racism. It’s why you get no black votes and no black candidates. It’s why you managed to alienate the Hispanics who should be a natural GOP constituency. It’s also why the young have tuned you people out — because they live in the modern world and the GOP is stuck in the past.

    By the way, JC Watts? The last African-American Congressperson?

    To keep a majority of House seats in the 2000 election, Watts advised Republicans to moderate their language and criticized the party for creating the perception it favored a view of “family values that excluded single mothers.”[5] Watts opposed the Confederate battle flag on the South Carolina State House and advised Republicans to go slowly on opposing racial quotas.

    He retired 8 years ago. And when you cast about in your mind for a black person you could claim you’d vote for, you had no better option.

  44. P Cleary says:

    ” …I also recognize the “why weren’t you complaining during the Bush years” lament. Haven’t people looked at the difference between Bush deficits and those we face for the next decade? It’s a huge difference. A good portion of those Bush deficits had to do with two wars. And before someone goes off on the wars let’s remember they were two wars approved by congress and supported by a majority of the people.”

    Steve P:

    The Bush deficits took 5 trillion and turned it into almost 11 trillion and the wars are off budget, so this is factually incorrect.

    Second, no wars were approved by congress and as a matter of “fact” we are not at “war”. the only way we can be at “war” is if it is declared. Since most of the tea party types want everything to be “just like the founders intended”, I am amazed they give a free pass on the “war” never being declared. i guess that would mean a “tax” to pay for it, or a “draft” to support it. Once that happened a majority of Americans would not “support the wars” (if they ever did).

    From Wiki;
    Budgetary treatment of Iraq & Afghanistan war expenses

    Much of the costs for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have not been funded through regular appropriations bills, but through emergency supplemental appropriations bills. As such, most of these expenses were not included in the budget deficit calculation prior to FY2010. Some budget experts argue that emergency supplemental appropriations bills do not receive the same level of legislative care as regular appropriations bills. In addition, emergency supplemental appropriations are not subject to the same budget enforcement mechanisms imposed on regular appropriations. Funding for the first stages of the Vietnam War was provided by supplemental appropriations, although President Johnson eventually acceded to Congressional demands to fund that war through the regular appropriations process.

    The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that the President’s FY2009 budget proposals would provide $188 billion in budget authority for FY2008. [37] CBO estimates that appropriations for operations in Afghanistan and Iraq since 2001 through February 2008 total $752 billion.[38] That would be approximately 4% of federal spending over the period.

    Budget authority is legal authority to obligate the federal government. For many war-related activities there may be a long lag between the time when budget authority is granted and when payments (outlays) are made by the U.S. Treasury. In particular, spending on reconstruction activities in Iraq and Afghanistan has lagged behind available budget authority. In other cases, the military uses contracts that are payable upon completion, which can create long lags between appropriations and outlays.

    In principle, the Department of Defense (DoD) separates war funding from base funding. In most cases, however, funds for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan use the same accounts as other DoD accounts. This raises challenges to attempts to achieve a precise separation of expenditures on operations in Iraq and Afghanistan from the base defense operations.

  45. P Cleary says:

    Lunacy
    ” am a 47 white woman, married to 60 year old white man. He and I both work for a local university.”

    Yeah, and the university gets funding from taxes, the kids get loans from taxes, the profs get research money from taxes, the discoveries and research are made at the university from taxes.

    And you see a lack of “self made” people, slackers and hand out seekers….. and you want less taxes, correct?

    At least you have a fitting moniker, or are you being ironic?

    Get a job in the private sector with no govt. guarantees for your revenue source. Good Grief!

  46. Michael Reynolds says:

    This is exactly correct:

    But the abstract slogans against government, the childish reduction of necessary trade-offs as an apocalyptic battle between freedom and slavery, and the silly ranting at all things Washington: these are not a political movement. They are cultural vents, wrapped up with some ugly Dixie-like strands.

    When they propose cuts in Medicare, means-testing Social Security, a raising of the retirement age and a cut in defense spending, I’ll take them seriously and wish them well.

    Until then, I’ll treat them with the condescending contempt they have thus far deserved.

    That’s from Andrew Sullivan and he has it to a tea, er, T.

  47. An Interested Party says:

    Speaking of Sullivan, he provides these helpful links which talk about those 47% of people who pay no federal income taxes…

    Behind closed doors Republicans split on the per-child tax credit. Economic types oppose it or hold their noses. Social/family conservatives vigorously support it, as does almost anyone running for office.

    It’s easy for Republicans to complain today about the end result. They (we) have an out in that they can point to the EITC as one of the causes. But much of this outcome is driven by tax policy changes initiated and expanded by Republicans.

    Let me close with two questions: Do those who reflexively oppose all tax hikes now favor raising taxes on elderly widows and low-income working families? And what would these critics of small government suggest we do with the revenue windfall this tax hike on the poor would generate? Help finance a cut in the estate tax, perhaps?

    So while some conservatives are moaning and groaning about how so many people don’t pay federal income taxes, perhaps they should look at the party that represents them, as it is the GOP that is largely responsible for why such is the case…in the meantime, the last quote is particularly relevant…if you want those low-income people to have “some skin in the game”, what should their taxes be paying for?

  48. Raoul says:

    I fail to get the point-being an idiot is good? The second point befuddles me even more.

  49. Juneau says:

    Andrew Sullivan? Now THERE is a source you can trust to have an unbiased, well thought out opinion, the one above being no exception. And, yes, I am being extremely sarcastic.

  50. Eric Florack says:

    their overestimation strikes me as defensible. Especially since most of them probably do pay somewhere between 10 percent and 30 percent of their income to the federal government.

    Even assuming that I stipulate to that level, you’re not counting the hidden taxes imposed on businesses, which are eventually covered by you and I anyway. and to that the similar levels of taxation at the state and local levels, and we end up with something on the order of 60% of our income being taken at some level of government by one tax or another. Or….Are we being euphemistic and calling them “fees” now?

    Even exclusive of that, however, the argument really centers around whoever has the money, has the control. It is amazing to see the level to which various governments impose their will and change behavior by means of taxation. Remembering always the phrase “the power to tax is the power to destroy” it’s not hard to see why the subject of taxation is such a hot one . On that basis I have difficulty agreeing to the phrase “cultural event”. In the end, taxation ends up being used for among other purposes altering the culture. Consider the taxation on cigarettes and alcohol, for example. I’m guessing lean. The taxation that some would have us impose on various types of foods which are not popular with those in Liberal dominated neighborhoods. And so on.

  51. Eric Florack says:

    To be honest with you, I have no clue. This is the problem that arises from a grass roots, decentralized movement – there is no central policy committee which speaks on behalf of THE TEA PARTY.

    The problem you’re dealing with is the concept of freedom. Of which, a central policy committee is the antithesis.