Tea Parties Protest Stimulus

David Samo has the best explanation I’ve seen thus for of the bizarre “tea party” phenomenon:

In the latest example of how user-produced media can capture so-called “massively-shared” events in a way mainstream media can’t, a wave of images, blog posts and videos from a nationwide protest has been washing across the Web. The protests, dubbed “tea parties” by participants, were held Friday in several U.S. cities including Portland and Washington, D.C. as a response to what demonstrators see as unfettered spending and encroaching government as represented by President Obama’s economic recovery plans.

The tea parties were catalyzed by the widely seen screed by CNBC personality Rick Santelli, in which he jokingly suggested he’d organize a Chicago tea party to protest what he saw as the president’s plan to “subsidize the losers’ mortgages.”

The idea is a reference to the Boston Tea Party, the famous revolutionary-era event in which American colonists dumped British tea into the Boston Harbor to protest oppressive taxation policies by the British government.

Though even a year ago it would’ve been a slow and difficult process to chronicle a widely scattered protest such as this, the online community is now mastering the art of high-speed media sharing, a trend that can unite geographically disparate communities via the Web. Much of the sharing is now facilitated by the fast-growing messaging site Twitter, where today the keyword “teaparty” was one of the most frequently used terms. Users sent out a flurry of updates about attendance, links to photos on Flickr and Photobucket, and videos on YouTube and other sites.

But here’s the thing:  The original Boston Tea Party was a protest against taxation without representation.  We now have representation.  The people who passed the stimulus — the Democrats in the House and Senate and President Obama — were duly elected under the Constitution.  For that matter, it’s not like  something like this massive stimulus wasn’t discussed in the fall election campaign that put these people in charge. What they’re doing is not unprecedented nor unconstitutional in any current understanding.

What exactly is the point of these rallies?

Mind you, I opposed the stimulus.  I voted against Obama and against both of the Democrats who now represent me in the Senate.   I lost.   I’m not happy about it but that’s how this game works.

Don’t like massive tax increases?  Don’t like trillion dollar spending packages? All 435 Representatives and 33 Senators are up for election in November 2010.  Vote them out and replace them with people who’ll cut your taxes and lower spending.

UPDATERick Moran offers a stirring defense of Tea Party Mania that has me this close to reconsidering my position.

FILED UNDER: Politics 101, US Politics, , , , ,
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. PD Shaw says:

    And heck, they’re not even destroying $2 million in property. Doesn’t anybody read history any more?

  2. PD Shaw says:

    Something else to think about:

    Many people today think the Tea Act—which led to the Boston Tea Party—was simply an increase in the taxes on tea paid by American colonists. Instead, the purpose of the Tea Act was to give the East India Company full and unlimited access to the American tea trade, and exempt the company from having to pay taxes to Britain on tea exported to the American colonies. It even gave the company a tax refund on millions of pounds of tea they were unable to sell and holding in inventory.

    One purpose of the Tea Act was to increase the profitability of the East India Company to its stockholders (which included the King), and to help the company drive its colonial small business competitors out of business.

    LINK

  3. Jim Durbin says:

    James – you know that up to 40% of the voting populace effectively pays 0% of their income in federal income taxes, and the payroll tax is insurance for their retirement and healthcare. If we get to the point of 50% paying no taxes, we will have taxation without representation.

    What’s the point? Republicans in Washington have utterly failed to harness the energy of the average person. Democrats lied their way into office, convincing a lot of moderate voters they were the party of fiscal discipline. It does no good to get angry and elect Republicans back in if they are going to pursue small steps towards government control instead of the massive ones pushed by Obama-Pelosi-Reid.

    The tea parties are the gathering of the grassroots – people who want to demonstrate that there are people who see this cancer for what it is. A lot of voters stayed home, didn’t engage, and were tricked into voting for Obama because they wanted change and the Republican brand was weak.

    What you’re seeing is the beginning of organization. People who are willing to stand outside in bad weather turn out to vote. They give money. They talk to their friends and neighbors. They generate media attention.

    Republicans don’t have unions or paid political organizations to GOTV and canvas and register voters. Not to the extent that the Left does. The folks standing next to me in St Louis, where over 1500 turned out, took off work, took their kids out of school, and went down to the Arch to see what they could do to make a difference.

    You want to win in 2010? In a party that is looking at increased structural barriers to getting out the message, the tea parties are the first wave of ordinary citizens realizing there are a lot more of us than them.

    It’s called an enthusiasm gap. This time, we’re going to be prepared, and that includes co-opting a Republican establishment that is not prepared to lead.

  4. Dave Schuler says:

    We now have representation.

    Do we?

    I think that the description of our political system as being a system under which officials select their constituents is apt. But who is being represented? That so many officials go into office as paupers and retire wealthy might give us a clue.

    Back in 1790 George Washington thought that the roughly 50,000 people that each Congressman had in his district was far too many to represent adequately. Now each Congressman represents over 500,000 and we’re much more diverse than we were as a people in 1790. Representation is a pious noise at best.

  5. mannning says:

    I see this as the start of grassroots activism against the current administration. It has been a very impromptu and small collection of parties so far, but it will burgeon into a significant movement over the next year, heading for a 2010 debacle for Obama and Company, we conservatives hope.

    All it needs is organization, an agenda and adequate notice, which will be forthcoming, I believe, never mind the naysayers. Some big names are already looking into it, though they are almost incredulous at their good fortune.

    Obama now owns the debacle, with his 13 trillion dollars of proposed spending, and the failings of the Bush crowd are rapidly fading into oblivion.

    Obama lied, the economy died.

  6. anjin-san says:

    Obama lied, the economy died.

    Interesting to note that so many in the “Country First” crowd would gladly flush the country down the toiled if only it hurts Obama…

  7. Bithead says:

    Something on the order of 70% of this country doesn’t want anything to do with the stimulus by poll data from Rasmusssen, and a few others.

    Which interestingly comes fairly close to matching with the approximately 35 to 40% of America that doesn’t pay taxes, and yet will benefit from this governmental largess. The battle lines over this issue of been drawn fairly clearly.

    On that basis, while your point is technically true, James, that there are people in Washington who claim to represent us, that representations seems to be lacking in a couple of areas. Indeed, their representation here in these United States would seem to be approximately as effective as the representation provided us at the throne of George.

  8. Bithead says:

    Interesting to note that so many in the “Country First” crowd would gladly flush the country down the toiled if only it hurts Obama…

    Perhaps they figure that by removing Obama there preventing the flushing action? Perhaps that thought hadn’t occurred to you?

  9. Steve Plunk says:

    anjin,

    What happened to dissent being the highest form of patriotism? Should so many keep quite while witnessing the declaration of war against business Obama has made?

    This is not a game and as Dave Schuler opines not much of a representative democracy any more. The Tea Party movement is a manifestation of shock and anger over the absolutely wrong moves the government is making. Raising taxes in a recession? Who believes in that unless they want more of a crisis? Why more of a crisis? Didn’t Rahm explain that, more crisis means more radical plans can be enacted.

    Just because your side loses an election doesn’t mean you must sit in silence. Did the Dems?

  10. anjin-san says:

    What happened to dissent being the highest form of patriotism?

    Dissent is groovy. Hold protests. Say you think the plan is stupid, a train wreck. Write letters to the editor.

    But don’t root for the President to fail just so you can say you were right.

  11. anjin-san says:

    Perhaps they figure that by removing Obama

    So you are advocating overthrowing the legal government of our country? You are indeed a patriot sir!

  12. mannning says:

    Dear God, angin san, all we want is a return to fiscal responsibility, which we haven’t had for far too many years. Obama is leading us into financial chaos, and if this proves out over the next year or so, he will not be reelected, and his socialist ministry will come to a halt.
    It should! I have seldom seen a public figure that talked soothing platitudes in public, while doing the exact opposite behind our backs. The last one I can identify is Slick Willie, and he is still around to help out in creating the charade. What a farce!

    Obama lied, the economy died!

  13. mannning says:

    As for rooting for Obama to fail, any patriot should root to remove someone as quickly as possible that is aiming at not less than the socialization of the nation.

    All of the spending is deliberately meant to create financial chaos in order to pass more and more socialist and pork legislation under the cover of a national emergency meme. At some point, it may even smell of an impeachable offense. Not one of the liberal congressmen read the stimulus bill to any depth at all. This is malfeasance of duty.

    Obama lied, the economy died!

  14. anjin-san says:

    Obama lied, the economy died!

    Manning… if you want to have a serious discussion about the economy, don’t throw out a slogan that sounds like something from a Jr. High School student body election.

  15. anjin-san says:

    Something on the order of 70% of this country doesn’t want anything to do with the stimulus by poll data from Rasmusssen, and a few others.

    Ah, so now you FAVOR governance by polling. I see. Obama should simply put his finger to the wind and act accordingly. I thought you were opposed to that sort of thing.

    The tendency of Rasmussen to be heavily weighted towards the GOP is a separate discussion.

  16. Mike P says:

    “Obama is leading us into financial chaos…”

    And under whose watch did we come to the brink? Obama is attempting to clean up a mess made over the last 8 years by a political party that is now conveniently trying to “return to its principles”, whatever those are supposed to be.

    I have no problem with people who protest against the stimulus or what have you. Opposing voices are welcome and needed. But please, please, PLEASE don’t act like the last 8 years had nothing to do with what’s going on here. If we’re going to have an honest discussion about how we are going to get out of this, we need to talk honestly about how we got here. Obama has been in office for just over a month. He didn’t create (or foster) the conditions that are dragging our economy down.

    And, calling someone a “socialist” at every turn isn’t really constructive.

  17. Sylena says:

    James,

    I’m worried about groups like ACORN that seem to cheat the ‘voting’ system with scam after scam. If we can’t have a fair and cheat proof voting system, how is that fair representation?

    Obama is very deep in scam. He has one hand in the toilet while the other is manicured and spotless. If we can’t get this man out of the government soon, it might be too late to EVER have fair representation ever again.

  18. kth says:

    Sylena, the SNL skit parodying the Republicans in Congress had them proposing to themselves that impeaching Obama was something the country would really get behind. Now you are suggesting it in earnest (at least I hope that you’re hinting at impeachment and not assassination), (again) proving Philip Roth’s point that satire can no longer keep pace with real life.

  19. lunacy says:

    Back to JJ’s initial issue – Vote them out in 2010.

    I agree. But there’s nothing wrong with letting them know how you feel between now and then.

    And there’s something right with heightening awareness of these issues and inspiring discussion and activism within communities.

    I know it’s now how the intelligentsia would do it but, whaddaya gonna do?

  20. James Joyner says:

    Back in 1790 George Washington thought that the roughly 50,000 people that each Congressman had in his district was far too many to represent adequately. Now each Congressman represents over 500,000 and we’re much more diverse than we were as a people in 1790. Representation is a pious noise at best.

    It’s unwieldy, to be sure. But I can’t imagine how a House of Representatives comprised of 6000-odd Members would function. They can barely do it at 435.

  21. JohnG says:

    First off, Obama didn’t create the problems. No one is blaming him for the current problems. What people are blaming him for are the future problems he is creating with his stimulus act. That there are existing problems does not excuse the president from making those problems worse and making new problems. We just blew up our deficit by something like 400%! And that’s 400% from what at the time were Bush’s unconscionably high deficits.

    Now reasonable people might argue that all this deficit spending is necessary. Other reasonable people might argue that it will just make the problem worse. But no one can reasonably argue that it’s Bush’s fault that Obama’s plan will make things worse. Either argue that the stimulus is a net plus on its own merits, or admit that it’s a disaster.

    “All 435 Representatives and 33 Senators are up for election in November 2010. Vote them out and replace them with people who’ll cut your taxes and lower spending.”

    I would guess that this, and the fear of this, is what the Tea Party stuff of today is about. Not about armed rebellion against the government or destruction of property. Obviously the goals of the current tea party movement are going to be different from the colonial days.

  22. JKB says:

    So organizing people to show their dislike of legislation enacted by the duly elected representatives is now a bad thing. We know the Left never would have done something like that to oppose their dislike of a war approved and repeatedly funded by their duly elected representatives.

    So some people who don’t feel their majority elected representatives are representing their best interests get together to wave some signs and shout some slogans. How’d they come up with a crazy idea like that? The only reason the left hasn’t used the Tea Party idea is that it doesn’t work when your every instinct is more taxes.

  23. odograph says:

    I’m just skimming as I set up my new TV (my stimulus for the Korean economy!). I agree with James re. democracy, and with those who treat it as a freedom of speech issue.

    … but do you notice something else? James touched on it. Americans are weird, because they protest too late. It was the same way with Iraq. Peaceniks were pretty quiet until troops were in motion THEN the protested.

    On both the stimulus and the war people protested too late .. because they are dumb or because they really don’t want responsibility?

  24. Drew says:

    Interesting to observe those who castigate “the last 8 years that got us into this mess.”

    Mankiw observes that in Obama’s own budget, when they predict the economy to return to the 5% unemployment level, they forecast the deficit as a percent of GDP will be 3%, vs 2% during the Bush administration. That’s 50% worse. Obamas own budget, mind you.

    A 50% greater mess?

  25. James – you know that up to 40% of the voting populace effectively pays 0% of their income in federal income taxes, and the payroll tax is insurance for their retirement and healthcare. If we get to the point of 50% paying no taxes, we will have taxation without representation.

    Wouldn’t that more accurately be representation without taxation?

    More to the point, the focus on just the income tax distorts the picture, as does dismissing the payroll tax as insurance–it is a tax. Focusing on federal income taxes also ignores any number of sales and excise taxes everyone pays, not to mention property taxes (either paid directly, or through rent).

  26. Jim Durbin says:

    Steven,

    For those paying taxes, it is indeed taxation without representation. There’s an old joke about urine and cornflakes in there.

    Income and payroll are 80% of the revenue. Corporate is another 15%. That leaves 5% for excise and miscellaneous taxes, and only states charge sales tax. Thus income and payroll are the two worth talking about.

    Payroll taxes are not real taxes. They are forced contributions to a future benefit plan. You get the money back, more or less, based on how long you live. It’s a wealth transfer from your early self to your late self.

    Trying to conflate the two is a cash flow game of semantics, but SS and Medicare are based on future payments, much like pensions. You can’t opt out of payment now – and the government owes you that benefit as long as you live.

    Once we means test Social Security and Medicare, the system will be another distribution of wealth scheme. They’re talking about cutting payroll taxes to “help” people, but there would be no corresponding cut in benefits for them in the future. Thus it’s a cash flow issue, and not a tax issue.

    We focus on federal income tax because that’s where the government gets its money. Corporate taxes are simply passed on to consumers, which means they are regressive taxes – and the rest are too small to really discuss.

    Of course – about the only argument left is that the insane spending increases, the bailouts of states, and the new government baseline will create such massive hyper-inflation that only property owners will benefit, and poor people will suffer the most.

  27. Jim,

    For those paying taxes, it is indeed taxation without representation.

    That doesn’t make any sense. Whether one likes it or not, the people you are talking about, which includes me, btw, have representation. The fact that one is part of the group paying more taxes (or all the income taxes) doesn’t take away your representation. Just because you don’t like a situation doesn’t mean you get to make illogical definitions for it.

    At the end of the day, payroll taxes are simply another form of income tax. And no, it is not just forced benefit deductions. First, out system is essentially a pay as you go system–the payroll taxes being paid now are being spent now–and whatever benefits you are I get will be paid by future taxpayers. Further, since the feds long ago started using the social security trust fund like general revenues by borrowing heavily from that surplus.

    Indeed, SS and medicare are already forms of redistribution, although not as steeply as income taxes (obviously). First, there is the SS trust fund noted above, and there is the fact that one does not get a one-to-one pay back based on what was paid in. For one thing, the guys that dies at 68 gets a whole lot less back than the guy that dies at 98.

    BTW, none of this is to say that I like the current structure of our taxes, but I simply think an honest and ideologically neutral treatment of these areas of fiscal policy are to be preferred. The notion that the only taxes people pay are income taxes is fallacious.

  28. PD Shaw says:

    The people being taxed without representation are the next generation of taxpayors.

    Not as though that’s new, but it seems like we keep taking that up a notch.

  29. Mike P says:

    JohnG,
    Good points, but one thing that should be mentioned is that a major reason the deficits blew up is because we’re finally incorporating the costs of the war into the budget. Sure, we all knew it was there, but now it’s officially on the record. Scary numbers in that.

  30. To add to the above:

    A simple illustration as to why one cannot treat payroll taxes as simple a wealth transfer from current me to future me: the fact that future benefits may be different. To wit: when my parents were paying medicare taxes back in the day, there was no prescription drug benefit. There is now–and that has to be paid for somehow, it isn’t simply a result of what was paid in the past.

    Beyond that: my grandmother only briefly ever worked outside the home. She has been getting medicare and ss benefits for roughly two decades now–and there is no way that that she ever paid enough into the system to equal what she has received in benefits.

  31. anjin-san says:

    Something on the order of 70% of this country doesn’t want anything to do with the stimulus by poll data from Rasmusssen, and a few others.

    Bit can you actually provide any support for this claim? And who are “a few others”? Not rant sites please…

  32. anjin-san says:

    my grandmother only briefly ever worked outside the home. She has been getting medicare and ss benefits for roughly two decades now–and there is no way that that she ever paid enough into the system to equal what she has received in benefits.

    Interested to hear what your plan is… are you just going to tell your grandmother that she is out of luck and will have to make it as best she can with no health care?

  33. Jim Durbin says:

    Steven,

    While it may not meet a pure definition, building a tax system where a majority of the voters pay no income taxes, is a recipe for societal collapse.

    1) The EITC and Obama’s new tax rebate or direct cash payments that go directly against the payment of the payroll taxes. If you’re giving people money to file a tax return. In this case, you not only get direct subsidy, you also get the cash value of Social Security and Medicare if you live long enough.

    2) If you pay into a pension benefit and die at the age of 60, you don’t get that money. Same with SS.

    3) Spouses receive benefits, but that is considered part of the benefit from the contributor.

    4) The Disabled provision is similar to long-term disability. You may or may not need it, but you are paying for it under the idea that you might someday need it.

    5) Congress has been borrowing money from the Social Security fund, but they could just have easily borrowed it from other sources. That money has to be paid back. Social Security funds are not used to fund general revenue. Money borrowed from Social Security is used to fund general revenue. The deficits reported lower are an accounting trick and dishonest, but in no way invalidate the promises of payroll taxes (except if the system fails).

    6) Your grandmother, along with other workers, was grandfathered in. She didn’t pay enough to cover her costs, but that’s what makes this a Ponzi scheme. We pay in, and somehow the country is going to pay us back in the future. Why else would you pay for it? Social Security was sold as a way to provide a safety net. Everyone recognizes that we pay now so future workers will support us.

    7) Your current payments are wealth transfer to a future you. Maybe the benefits are different – maybe it’s more or less based on how long you live, but your future benefits are defined by how much you pay in while working. Pay more – get more. Pay less – get less. And some margin for the disabled, and widows, and orphans.

    If you want to argue that Social Security is part of the general fund, how about we simply abolish the fiction of Social Security payroll taxes and move to one tax to pay for it all? Why are there two taxes?

    Income taxes are simply taken from you and spent on whatever the politicians choose. Social Security and Medicare have a defined benefit you earn. You get those statements every year, right?

    What do you think they mean? They’re telling you that the money you’ve paid entitles you to money and benefits in the future.

  34. Jim Durbin says:

    anjin-san –

    I’d prefer we slash spending in real dollars 20-30% so that we can actually pay off the debt, keep inflation low, and have enough to take care of Stephen’s dear grandmother.

    Or we could just keep trucking on, until one day there is no money, hyper-inflation, and all the old people starve because there is nothing to give them and families have to choose between feeding their children or their parents.

    I’d also prefer not to give away all my rights to a bunch of elitists who don’t pay their taxes, leave Washington millionaires after being in Congress, and generally live like feudal lords off the backs of the productive.

    You were saying?

  35. Interested to hear what your plan is… are you just going to tell your grandmother that she is out of luck and will have to make it as best she can with no health care?

    I didn’t actually critique the situation, I simply was describing it. I pointing out that the current system of payroll taxes and old age benefits were not as straight forward as Jim was making them out to be.

  36. anjin-san says:

    I didn’t actually critique the situation, I simply was describing it. I pointing out that the current system of payroll taxes and old age benefits were not as straight forward as Jim was making them out to be.

    I understand & am not trying to be contentious. Just interested in hearing what alternatives may exist to these admittedly very expensive programs.

  37. Jim.

    The bottom line is that it utterly impossible to pretend like only one kind of taxes (income taxes) are real taxes. Payroll taxes are real taxes, as are sales taxes, excise taxes, property taxes and so forth.

    While I understand where you are coming from, you are arguing from a reality that does not exist–one in which it is possible to easily delineate where all the dollars come from and where they end up. You may want it to work that way, and one might could even argue that it is supposed to work that way, but it isn’t the way it works and to try and make policy (or argument about policy) based on some idealized version of how things work/should work is a non-starter.

    You would have a point, although still not as pure as you think it would be, if income taxes paid for X policies and only X policies, and payroll taxes paid for old age benefits, and only old age benefits. Further, they would have to pay only for the benefits of the payee. It doesn’t work that way,

    And yes, I get those statements—indeed, I have one in front me right now , and it says on page two: “We can’t provide your actual benefit amount until you apply for benefits. And that amount may differ from the estimates states above…” (emphasis theirs, not mine).

    Given that I will not be applying for benefits for some time, I take those numbers with shaker of salt. And even if the numbers are accurate, they are going to paying me with money from someone else check, not from some account where they have socked away the money I paid in.

  38. anjin-san says:

    I’d prefer we slash spending in real dollars 20-30% so that we can actually pay off the debt, keep inflation low, and have enough to take care of Stephen’s dear grandmother

    Certainly this is a good plan on paper. And I would very much love to see some of the folks gorging at the government trough have to go out and cut it in the real world.

    There is an admin at UC Berkeley that just got a six figure severance check as part of an effort to cut HQ staff spending. The next week she had another very well paying job at UC. Her boss put the fix in, she got a waiver to be eligible for the new job, and they did not advertise the job internally, so she had no competition. She basically got a 100k Christmas present courtesy of the folks who pay for the UC system, of which I am one…

    Where do you propose to make the cuts>

  39. mannning says:

    A good old high school slogan is just the ticket to catch the eye of the young, the bamboozled, and the really foolish. Seeing it often enough just might jar them into reassessing their love affair with Obama–Mr. Socialist. It is particularly useful when it is the literal truth. Obama did lie, and the economy did (pretty much) die.

    Of course, the Bush years and the Republican Congress went on a spending spree–several trillion dollars worth, but absolutely nothing like the 13 trillion dollars Obama has championed, so far, and still counting, which our grandchildren will be trying to pay off! Obama now owns the problem fully, and he is dissembling to the public about it. Hence:

    Obama lied, the economy died!

    The ex-President is by all measures off the hook as of now! He was a real piker compared to Obama!

  40. Jim Durbin says:

    Steven,

    It’s not only important to make the distinction in different kinds of taxes, it’s ultimately accurate.

    When we reach the point where payroll taxes collected are less than payroll taxes received, where will the additional money come from?

    The only possible revenue source is income taxes. So in addition to a highly progressive income tax, the payroll tax is destined to pull from the very same source of revenue.

    Your argument is that Congress has decided to raid the SS fund, and thus it’s the same revenue source. It’s not true. If I borrow off my 401K to fund a current acquisition, the dollar I spend now is not the same dollar as the one I get from the 401K, but the results of me borrowing from the 401K are I have to pay it back sometime in the future from my income sources.

    You’re right your future benefits are paid from future workers. But the guarantee is paid with current dollars. If you pay car insurance to the same company for thirty years, and then have an accident, the company is not paying you from the dollars you gave them. They are paying from the dollars of people who purchased insurance that year.

    If the company goes under, or if you fail to pay your bill, the insurance is canceled. Payroll taxes are insurance payments in just the same manner, with the difference being the company can’t go under and you can miss payments and still get the benefits.

    And some people get benefits with never paying.

    You cannot say that Social Security is a general fund tax. It is a guarantee for future benefits. The use of those funds is an accounting trick that hides larger deficits, but it is still money that has to be repaid.

    That’s what the IOU is.

    The only reason your argument stands up is because politicians are willing to lie to get their hands on more cash. If Obama, or Reid, or McConnell stood up and said that they were going to take the Social Security fund and use it to build bridges and fund schools, all hell would break loose.

    Talk to the average person, and while they don’t think SS will be around, they also have no clue that money is being borrowed and used to obscure deficits.

    My argument is a pure one. I’m simply asking for a real accounting of how money is taken and where it is spent. In every case, we see that large percentages of the public are comfortable voting for politicians who promise them benefits paid for by other voters.

    Words have meanings, and calling something a payroll tax, instead of an insurance policy, is a rhetorical trick. Like w-2 withholding, the goal is minimizing the pain of taxes and spreading it out so the taxpayer never really gets angry enough to do something about it.

    It’s such a bad deal, I’d be willing to forgo all future benefits if I could opt out of the system. So would most people my age and younger. But then how would politicians scare old people into voting for them?

    Then why the IOU? That money will have to be repayed eventually in some manner.

  41. mannning says:

    There is no serious discussion to be had, angin san, when the purse strings are in the hands of profligate spenders and socialist takeover artists. There is now literally nothing that can be meaningfully argued that bears on reality. We are now in dreamland, where trillion dollar bills rain down on everyone in favor with the left, not incidentally, on Hamas, too! He just may have a few trillion dollars set by for Iran, too, to try to bribe them away from nuclear weapons. We cannot pay for all of this, so someone must stop the show before we are past the breaking point.

    The only viable solution is a full return to fiscal responsibility, and you will never get that from a liberal Congress. True conservatism is the only way to go, and that is also very problematical, given the number of young, bamboozled and foolish denizens we have today.

    This is simply a very bad movie, and I believe I will pass on to my final episode before this flim ends. I hope the good guys win before 2050!

    Obama lied, the economy died!

  42. Am I the only one who looks at these protests as pure partisanship masquerading as philosophical principle? Where were all these people the last eight years?

    I don’t take Republican protestors whose concern for big government doesn’t extend further than before 2008 any more seriously than I did the Democrat protestors of the last eight years whose concern for civil liberties didn’t extend further than before 2000.

  43. tom p says:

    Funny, I have no problem giving up a little extra money so an 82 yr old man who worked his ass off his entire life has an apartment, or a 73 yr old widowed woman who did nothing more than raise her children the best she could can eat something other than dog food…

    Bothers me not at all. What bothers me is that the #s don’t add up. If they fix that? I will be perfectly happy.

    Somehow or other, I think we can do that, one way or the other.

  44. Jim Durbin says:

    Tom P –

    Very few people would mind giving up a “little extra money” to help out those the 73 year old and the 82 year old under those circumstances.

    That is why the slow creep of governmental power is so effective. Only mean, evil people are so greedy and selfish as to let old people eat dog food.

    The problem is that the 82 year old man could cost the government $80,000 a year in medical expenses. Multiply that by the Baby Boom and it’s not “just a little extra money.”

    And how would you feel if that 82 year old man was using his Social Security check to head on down to the riverboats, while you couldn’t afford to send you kids to college because your taxes were in the 50% range for anything over $40,000 (it’s coming). And you end up paying not only for his medical expenses, but also to fund pet causes of a politician who used your compassion to get your vote, which crowd out your ability to get a job (card check, cap and trade, environmental protections, amnesty) and improve your lot.

    And whaf if that 73 year old woman spent 40 years buying Prada bags and heading off to Europe, and now has nothing left to show for it because she never planned?

    The What If game is fun – but it’s not terribly useful unless you’re trying to undermine your opponents.

    As for Stormy Dragon – we were complaining about spending. Who do you think drove Bush down to his lowest popularity levels? Conservatives who were upset with his spending ways, and were tired of hearing from the Republicans that they were the only protection against the overspending of the Democrats.

    Of course, on every issue, from No Child Left Behind, to Medicare Drug Prescriptions, to S-Chip, Democrats screamed that spending was not high enough. Remember Bush vetoing S-Chip over $40 billion and Obama signing it as his first piece of legislation?

    Turns out that the Republicans, as bad as they were with deficits, were just pikers when it came to spending. It’s hard to imagine that the Bush/Paulson TARP I plan could be seen as fiscal restraint, but that was under a Democratic Congress, which took the Bush rate of spending and boosted it hundreds of billions of dollars upon winning the Congress in 2006.

    Now they’re boosting it by trillions. Do you see why people are doing something?

    Voters booted Republicans for spending, and brought in the Democrats, which is a bit like divorcing your husband because he has two beers every night, and then running off with the town drunk.

    And let’s not forget the two biggest problems. All this money sloshing around Washington creates the opportunity for a lot of corruption. A politician with trillions to give away wants a lot of money on the side to make that happen. Rangel, Dodd, Pelosi, Geithner, Daschle, Lott, Young, Stephens, Jefferson- the list goes on and on and covers both parties. They’re crooks – and those are only the ones that get caught doing something illegal or shady. What’s legal is even worse.

    Finally, there’s freedom. For all the complaints about religious conservatives peeking into bedrooms, the progressive left is and always has been about power. They want power to control your life, and if they take a little off the top, that’s normal for such an intelligent elite. They know better how to run our lives, though they can’t run a business without government subsidies and crony connections.

    That’s why normal folk are standing up.

    Mock all you want. This is the way out. You can sit in the cave and stare at shadows, but true patriots long for the sun.

  45. sam says:

    James – you know that up to 40% of the voting populace effectively pays 0% of their income in federal income taxes, and the payroll tax is insurance for their retirement and healthcare. If we get to the point of 50% paying no taxes, we will have taxation without representation.

    Stop it, you’re breaking my heart:

    The top 1 percent received 21.8 percent of all reported income in 2005, up significantly from 19.8 percent the year before and more than double their share of income in 1980. The peak was in 1928, when the top 1 percent reported 23.9 percent of all income.
    [Source]

    That was in 2005–can you give me any reason to suppose the percentage of national income accruing to that percentile is not greater now? Think about that: The top 1% of Americans garners almost 22% of all income. That’s staggering. I like Larry Summers’s idea:

    It goes like this: To undo the rise in income inequality since the late ’70s, every household in the top 1 percent of the distribution, which makes $1.7 million on average, would need to write a check for $800,000. This money could then be pooled and used to send out a $10,000 check to every household in the bottom 80 percent of the distribution, those making less than $120,000. Only then would the country be as economically equal as it was three decades ago. [Source]

    Or, put another way, those of us in the lower 99% have been sending, collectively, a $10,000 check to those in the top 1% for a whole lot of years. That’s class warfare, and no need to ask which class has been winning.

  46. odograph says:

    I think the “Obama lied, the economy died!” would be a little more honest if they said they didn’t like Obama’s response to down economy, not that he made one.

    I … talk about fear, remember Bush’s Paulson telling congress that if they didn’t give him a blank check “NOW!!!” they’d have a great depression on their hands?

    I mean, can you be that honest?

    (I agree with Drew that a culture of debt brewed this, but the Bush Administration had the watch. They should have seen the bridge out and hit the brakes earlier. The should not have goosed the economy to a higher bubble, with low rates and less regulation, to make the crash that much harder.)

  47. sam says:

    Finally, there’s freedom. For all the complaints about religious conservatives peeking into bedrooms, the progressive left is and always has been about power. They want power to control your life, and if they take a little off the top, that’s normal for such an intelligent elite. They know better how to run our lives, though they can’t run a business without government subsidies and crony connections.

    That’s why normal folk are standing up.

    Horseshit. Here’s the truth: The Republican party has been ass-raping you guys for years; and it’s been able to do it by tapping into that hard little turd of resentment that’s at the core of your being, as I once put it, and as you so clearly evidence in the above. And the cream of the jest (so to speak) is that when it’s done with the raping, it spins you around and says, Go get me another 55 gal drum of KY. And you’re out of the chute like a whippet. Pathetic. The nearest thing to it was the Southern aristocracy convincing poor Southern whites that slavery was in their interests.

  48. lunacy says:

    –Am I the only one who looks at these protests as pure partisanship masquerading as philosophical principle? Where were all these people the last eight years?–

    I sympathize with this sentiment. BUT…there were plenty of people who bitched about Bush’s spending and the recent Bush bailout. And many, right here on this blog.

    But, I see this in two ways.

    One, you don’t air your sister’s dirty laundry in front of the neighbors.

    and…

    Two, there is a point at which your desk is TOO messy and simply MUST be purge it down to the bare wood.

    In other words, the would be Bush bashers did it discretely, and many of these people who are now protesting are just being dragged beyond the threshold.

    I fit the latter category. I wanted fiscal responsibility under Bush. I fussed a little but only because I saw it as a small to medium problem and I knew his administration would be up soon.

    This, on the other hand, seems to be unprecedented fiscal irresponsibility and it has the potential of being the beginning of 8 years.

    Personally, I hope that A. Obama reins it in. and B. he doesn’t get a 2nd term.

    Lunacy

  49. Jim Durbin says:

    Sam – hate to break it to you, but income inequality has been increasing at about the same level since that 1980 date – including the Clinton Years, the Democratic Congresses from 1980-1994, and everywhere in between.

    You know what else has changed? The sheer amount of stuff we all have. Even the poor have iPods and cell phones, and increasingly – houses that can’t be foreclosed on. Could it possibly be the transformation in the global economy and the ability of wealth to move quickly through electronic means? That certainly is more powerful than even the most greedy of Republican lawmakers.

    You also ought to control for illegal immigration – it has a tendency to destroy your argument when you do so if you’re importing the poor into the country in such large numbers.

    As for your pictorial descriptions – you ought to calm down a little. It doesn’t exactly help your image to gleefully imagine sexual violence and write about it.

    It makes you sound like a loon who needs to step away from the computer…slowly, but with purpose.

  50. mannning says:

    The old saying is: “The past is prologue.” We will never get out of this mess if all we do is to try to assess blame for events of great complexity over a lot more years than Bush was in office. We need fixes right now, not endless arguments as to whose fault it all was. They are endless because just about every Congressman that has been in office for 15 or 20 years must share the blame, along with a gaggle of Presidents from FDR onwards. We must deal in causes and effects, not blame, and many of the root causes actually go way, way back, many times in little baby steps of legislation that didn’t seem to be a problem for years, but ended up being one.

    However, if we can see with the naked eye that a few individuals are today making huge mistakes that defy the gravity of money and interest, then they must not only take the blame, but they must be made to fix it too! That is, the Obama Administration and the Democratic Congress will have to pay for their ghastly stimulus and other profligate spending directions.

    Yes, I do throw around the term Socialist and Socialism, and it IS calling a spade a spade. If the government owns 50% or better of the major industrial firms, the major financial firms, and is the loaner of first choice for the rest, then that is a socialistic economy. We are a hair’s breadth away from this situation right now, and the fault lies with the socialistic ideas of the Democrats and Obama. Oh so “reluctantly” they are moving in on it all, instead of letting market forces work it out. It is high time to call them out on it! And, yes:

    Obama lied, the economy died!

  51. Jim,

    It’s not only important to make the distinction in different kinds of taxes, it’s ultimately accurate.

    I agree–and really that’s my point: your definitions are too simplistic.

  52. odograph says:

    Well that’s the game Manning. You say “fixes” and you say “stimulus.” Let’s continue with the factual statement that stimulus is accepted as a fix for certain conditions.

    Again, Greg Mankiw (Republic former head of Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers) reports that when surveyed 90% of economists say:

    Fiscal policy (e.g., tax cut and/or government expenditure increase) has a significant stimulative impact on a less than fully employed economy. (90%)

    Now, I’d be a lot happier if the Republican Congressmen I just saw on TV at least acknowledged that, and said that while stimulus is a valid tool, this just isn’t the right time for it.

    They didn’t do that. They made a play argument, a simpleton’s argument, that there is no such thing as ‘stimulus,’ there is only ‘spending.’

    Acting like an idiot is not going to attract me to the cause.

  53. Especially, btw, when you define payroll taxes as not taxes.

  54. tom p says:

    Very few people would mind giving up a “little extra money” to help out those the 73 year old and the 82 year old under those circumstances.

    Jim, my point was only, are we talking about means testing? In other words, forget all the bull, (and there was only a little in your post I would object to) deal with the situation. Seeing as nobody wants to draw the line at old woman needing to eat dog food, where do we draw the line? Brass tacks guys…

    For my ownself, I recognize the fact that there will always be people in this country, working for wages that will not allow them to save for retirement… let us get real: Who here wants to pay $30/hr for a janitor? Yet we want our toilets cleaned…

    What are we going to do?

  55. odograph says:

    For my ownself, I recognize the fact that there will always be people in this country, working for wages that will not allow them to save for retirement…

    Regarding that, there is a truly outrageous line in a new Time Magazine article:

    “It sounds crazy,” he continued, “but I’d say unless you’re making over $350,000 a year, the more you’re paid, the more vulnerable you are. If you lose a job, you’re going to have a hard time finding another that pays as much. Or maybe you need to move to find that new job, but you’re stuck with a house you can’t sell. Or maybe your marriage breaks up, and you have to liquidate your assets at today’s prices.”

    It certainly should be crazy, but I’ve been worrying about that kind of scenario for the last couple years. I came to the realization that there are people like that on a long road trip through the southwest. I tuned the radio to a financial help talks show. I heard as I drove about people with a few thousand or a few tens of thousands on their credit cards. The amazing thing was that many were couples with $200K+ incomes. How, I thought could not not pay your credit cards with $200K coming in? It turns out they did it like everyone else: buy buying just as much house as they could afford, and then as much car as they could afford, …

    You all have seen the scary graphs, right? Rate of personal debt, and how our recent spike looks like the 1920s? Go ahead, and look at this thing.

    If we would have had a crash in 2004, it would have “only” been from 1929 heights. Now, it’s worse.

  56. mannning says:

    Like it or not, the collective vote of investment people around the world is that Obama’s moves are not going to heal the sick or raise the dead in this economy.

    We thus have a stock market in the tank now, and the predictions are that it will descend further into the 5,000 range in the course of this year. That is blood on the floor all over.

    What is worse, we will be printing new money 24/7 over ’09 and ’10, which will tank the dollar as soon as the first signs of recovery take place in far countries.

    One arrogance factor of the current in-crowd is that they think they can predict the fall percentage of the dollar to plus or minus 2% or so, and thus control the valuation in line with the spending they want to do, the borrowing they need to do, and the interest on the debt they must pay. This is sheer madness; they are playing with fire, and it isn’t easy to spot the spark that sets off a worldwide monitary conflagration.

    Instead of the hoped for max of, say, 20% devaluation, they may reap the whirlwind of 30% or 40%, or much, much more, because they cannot control or predict the minds and the moves of worldwide investors in 2010 and later. So there goes a good part of what is left of our retirement nest eggs: we may pay $2 or more for a 1$ tomato eventually.

    It is not only that Obama lied, but that his directions are feeding the fires of inflation, and the Congress is even ahead of him in this! Some Democratic Congressional minions wrote that huge stimulus bill that no one read and no one knows what’s in it in its entirety. This one act of creating a bill without knowing what is in it, and of not letting the opposition any time at all to read it, and not being able to estimate the final cost within even a few tens of billions of dollars, is far, far more financially egregious than anything Bush and Co. ever did.

    So, maybe it is: “Democrats lied, the economy died”.

  57. anjin-san says:

    So, maybe it is: “Democrats lied, the economy died”.

    More like “right wing talk show hosts ranted, and a chorus of parrots squaked”…

  58. Bithead says:

    But don’t root for the President to fail just so you can say you were right

    You mean like the democrats didn’t hope and pray before bush to fail in Iraq? You mean like they didn’t try to arrange for failure? Saying two years ago, for example, that the war had been lost?

    Yeah, like that.

  59. Bithead says:

    Bit can you actually provide any support for this claim? And who are “a few others”? Not rant sites please…

    You know, you keep asking me the same question, and I keep giving you the answer … 37% of AMericans support the plan. OK, I missed by a few points… 63% instead of 70.

    (shrtug) It’s jazz.

    Eventually, you’re going to get the idea that just because you disagree with it, or that it flies in the face of your preconceived notions, doesn’t make it a lie.

  60. Our Paul says:

    I have been following this post by Dr. Joyner since this morning, where he puzzled over Tea Party Rallies, to his recent UpDate, to wit:

    Rick Moran offers a stirring defense of Tea Party Mania that has me this close to reconsidering my position.

    Do not reconsider your position James. It is déjà vu all over again, the Ron Paul crowd is awakening from its slumber, and digging out their old hand painted signs from the cellar. Trust me James, just take a gander at the signs, and the type of crowd that Our Lady of the Poison Pen so gushingly and graphically presented.

    Said it before, will say it again there is a difference between the conservative philosophy, a conservative ideologue, and a GOP operative. Mr. Moran identifies himself without difficulty:

    Today witnessed something I never thought I would see in my lifetime; hundreds of ordinary Americans — part of a mass movement made up probably of many, many millions except they’re invisible and you can’t see them unless you wear some special glasses -saying “no” to Hussein Obama and his policies that will eventually bankrupt us. It’s the beginning of the Second American Revolution and golly geewhillickers, I’m right smack dab in the middle of it!

    The “tea parties” that are taking place all over the country today are a turning point in the history of human civilization. It’s obvious that tens of millions of Americans are enraged at Hussein Obama and the symbolic tossing of tea bags is one of the greatest political gestures in the last 200 years.

    The Naysayers have been proved wrong! The tea parties were a smashing success and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. So what if there were only about 12 people at one of them? Those 12 represent the tens of millions of citizens who are so enraged at the Hussein Obama regime that they are too paralyzed with anger and unable to make it.

    By next summer, we expect a tsunami to roll over the Hussien Obama regime as perhaps dozens or hundreds more will show up at these tea parties and become an unstoppable force that will crush liberalism, turn out the Democrats, and overthrow Hussein Obama and his spendthrift ways.

    Anyone who doesn’t believe this should keep their mouths shut.

    What absolute dribble, 12 guys standing on the corner represent tens of millions citizens! And of course the continual reference to Obama’s middle name, we should never forget that (gasp) he may be a Muslim, and probably not born in the United States!

    If nothing else, a round of applause to Dr. Steven Taylor for his comments in this thread. His comments were instructive and it’s always nice to see a conservative view point presented without the hard cutting edge of ideology.

    Bah, humbug. Golly geewhillickers, it is time to go to bed…

  61. Jeffrey W. Baker says:

    According to playboy, this is just another Brooks Brothers Riot.

    http://www.playboy.com/blog/2009/02/backstabber.html

  62. Jim Durbin says:

    Playboy doesn’t publish comments that dispute their little fantasy – it’s a pretty thin conspiracy they pitch – especially as to make it work, they have to ignore the work the local organizers did with no support from any fancy VRWC billionaires. I know the folks who put it together in St Louis – they weren’t organized enough to be some vast movement – it was all thrown together at the last moment, as were most of the events.

    So which is it – a slick PR campaign financed by wealthy and shadowy right wing types, or a pitiful demonstration by election losers?

    I’m not surprised that democratic sources are trying to discredit the whole thing. It’s far more likely this is a Democratic astroturf response to discredit the tea parties. You don’t think Axelrod’s firm shut down, do you?

  63. Joe R. says:

    Don’t like massive tax increases? Don’t like trillion dollar spending packages? All 435 Representatives and 33 Senators are up for election in November 2010. Vote them out and replace them with people who’ll cut your taxes and lower spending.

    Of the 435, I get to vote for one. He voted against the stimulus, by the way. No say on the other 434.

    Of the 33, I get to vote for one, and only because of a special election. Otherwise, it would be zero. No say now or ever on the other 99.

    So please, explain to me how I’m “represented” again? How my vote counts?

    I’m not happy about it but that’s how this game works.

    See, thinking of it as a game is exactly the problem. If the Steelers beat the Cardinals, I don’t get saddled with a $1 trillion stimulus bill. And if the Cardinals beat the Steelers, my gay friends aren’t relegated to 2nd class citizens. This is real stuff with real consequences. And if you fear those consequences, waiting two years for a chance to change some things is too long, whether you protest against high taxes, or against the Iraq War.

    What exactly is the point of these rallies?

    Probably similar to the point of this blog. Expecting people to roll over for two years is ridiculous. If you really believe that as a principle, then shut down your own blog until the next election cycle. You lost, so get over it.

  64. sam says:

    @Bit

    You know, you keep asking me the same question, and I keep giving you the answer … 37% of AMericans support the plan. OK, I missed by a few points… 63% instead of 70.

    I’ll check your Rasmussen (02.04.09):

    Support for the economic recovery plan working its way through Congress has fallen again this week. For the first time, a plurality of voters nationwide oppose the $800-billion-plus plan.

    The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that 37% favor the legislation, 43% are opposed, and 20% are not sure.

    and raise you a Gallup (02.05.09):

    Public Support for Stimulus Package Unchanged at 52%
    Seven in 10 favor some type of stimulus legislation

    PRINCETON, NJ — Fifty-two percent of Americans interviewed Wednesday night are in favor of Congress passing a roughly $800 billion economic stimulus package; 38% are opposed. These figures are nearly identical to those measured in Gallup polling last week, right before passage of the bill in the U.S. House of Representatives, and are also in line with public support in early January.

  65. sam says:

    Perhaps this can serve as a coda to this the most interesting of OTB posting/comments this week: Most Interesting Sign at Sparsely Attended Tea Party in DC. Sorry Jim for the recurrent sexual imagery–I guess the propensity is trans-party, eh? But then I wonder if the freeper holding the sign knows…ah, hell, never mind. Moran.

  66. DL says:

    I would disagree that we actually have Constitutionaly derived representation. When the masses are controlled by the mass media’s complicite agenda and propagandized in leftist thought for years through government controlled schools, and subjected to “free lunch” seduction by the government class of rulers, there can be little true representation as envisioned by our forefathers. The system is dead – it is over with and has now become like a cancer -a living death to itself.

    Allowing people to vote now is a dangerous thing.

  67. odograph says:

    Mannning, are you aware of this contradiction: Some on the right who acknowledged that “stimulus” is conventional economics, said that this could not be a real stimulus unless you got it out the door fast. Then they said that we should slow down and understand this bill …

    It seems that there might be a strategy in that.

    And realistically, on stimulus time is a factor. Getting something out is probably more important than getting it perfect, though I acknowledge that we might have errored a bit on the side of haste here.

    We’ll see if it works, in what is now accepted as a severe downturn (a 6% drop in GDP in 4th quarter 2008? who was president then?)

    Heck, I bet you those tea partiers could not even tell you the financial stats, the arc for 2008.

  68. Bithead says:

    Well, look;

    It seems to me that therein is a major point Rick is missing. Look at the difference. Call it what you will , but conservatives organizing protests is something unheard of in recent times. That it happens at all with conservatives, is a huge story. we expect the left to be generating these kind of things. Not the right.

    It’s also true that that lack of protest over the years, probably accounts for a large part of the amateurish nature of the whole thing.

    This is out of character for conservatives. That they do reach so far out of their character to do things like this, indicates the degree of anger going on. As I’ve suggested before, anger is something which is not to be underestimated, as motivation, and there certainly seems a lot of it out there.

  69. anjin-san says:

    You mean like the democrats didn’t hope and pray before bush to fail in Iraq?

    I can only speak for myself, but as much as I came to despise Bush, I never stopped hoping that he would get his act together. I would have been quite happy to have him become a good, even a great President. When a President fails, the country suffers. Its never a good thing.

    And of course, there is the issue that you are raising the “they did it too” defense. So much for principals.

  70. anjin-san says:

    Something on the order of 70% of this country doesn’t want anything to do with the stimulus

    Clearly bit, this is something you just invented. Cowboy up, and admit that Sam just ahhh, handed you a portion of your anatomy.

    It’s jazz.

    Miles Davis is jazz. Chet Baker is jazz. The platters you are spinning are pure Kenny G.

  71. mannning says:

    Well, odo, to me it is very simple. Obama, Reid and Pelosi saw an opportunity to force through a superbill under the label of stimulus if they moved fast before anyone could take it apart and apply common sense to it.

    That the bill was handled in toto as a spending plan over a number of years, instead of breaking it down into separate bills for immediate effect items, and then longer effect items, is another indication of the tactical bundling approach that did not divorce urgent up front needs from more leasurely pork and payoffs, and some actual longer term stimulus items of note.

    The very fact that much of the money is not scheduled to be spent until 2010, 2011, and 2012 supports the lack of need for such terrible haste that taking a few days, possibly a week, for Congress to digest the bill and to suggest improvements, became impossible. It seems most likely that the Democrats knew very well that many of their items would not stand up to the light of careful review vis a vis their stimulating properties.

    This was BS, and it has led to a bad bill, not just an imperfect bill, but a monument to waste and partisan favors. This is made worse by carefully not using the term earmark for such items, boldly stating that all of them are good stimuli, when many of them are of the purest kind of pork and payoff.

    We have yet to openly unravel and record all of the third tier of items that show clearly how the waste and partisanship play out, but the list is growing daily as high cost but silly items (with respect to their stimulus properties) are discovered in the bill. (I won’t repeat the current laundry list of frivolity items here.)

    Can you tell me what the three Republican Senators received as horsetrades for their favorable votes? Not clear to me at this point, and I am beginning to doubt the payoffs will surface until some time passes.

  72. Bithead says:

    Clearly bit, this is something you just invented. Cowboy up, and admit that Sam just ahhh, handed you a portion of your anatomy.

    ]

    Only in what passes for your mind, Anjin.

    When a President fails, the country suffers. Its never a good thing.

    That rather depends on what he fails at. There are times, and this is one of them, where if the president succeeds, the damage to our country, and our way of life, will be far greater than if he fails.

  73. anjin-san says:

    Lets be clear bitsy, this is what you said:

    Something on the order of 70% of this country doesn’t want anything to do with the stimulus

    Opposition to the stimulus is around 39%, very close to the numbers for support. The rest is undecideds. In other words, when you said 70% “don’t want anything to do with the stimulus” you ahhhh, lied. Undecided is not opposed, except perhaps, in your mind.

    Actually, I was wrong about something too. You will have to greatly elevate your game to reach Kenny G. status.

    That rather depends on what he fails at.

    There is nothing wrong with being opposed to any given policy or bill, or an entire philosophy of governing. What I am talking about is rooting for a failed Presidency just so that you can say “I told you so”. I suspect that you, like Rush, would like to see Obama fail, regardless of the harm to the country.

  74. Duracomm says:

    anjin-san said,

    And of course, there is the issue that you are raising the “they did it too” defense. So much for principals.

    Excellent point I’m sure you won’t use the “they did it too” defense when it comes to Obama’s massive spending and increase in deficits.

    Obviously the fact that the republicans were bad in those respects is no defense for Obama being worse.

  75. anjin-san says:

    Excellent point I’m sure you won’t use the “they did it too” defense when it comes to Obama’s massive spending and increase in deficits.

    I don’t believe I have said a single word in defense of Obama’s economic policies at this point. They are being presented as heroic measures to save the patient. Is this true? I suspect it will take a year or two for us to know.

    History does seem clear that simply waiting for a large scale economic crisis to work itself out is not a wise policy. Based on what I know, we did come far too close to economic collapse in September, and some of the extraordinary measurse taken at the time, poorly implemented as they were, held a real disaster off. So it is reasonable to say that the spending by Bush was in that case justified.

    If we go back further than that, the GOP policy of “spend, spend and go broke” is just what the GOP does.

  76. odograph says:

    Mannnning (catching for missing one ‘n’ before), do you know Jack Bogle? He’s the kind of guy who I don’t agree with 100%, but that I listen to seriously.

    He says that while the stimulus bill has pork, it (a) needed, and (b) probably about as good as we can do. (Bloomberg News video)

  77. mannning says:

    Ah yes, odo, it surely is a good plan to throw a trillion or so dollars at hundreds of line items of invented needs by staffers, and then refuse to have it reviewed at all by those responsible to vote it up or down. I know that I didn’t elect any staffers to legislate for the nation–that is the job of elected officials. Bogle sounds just like Schummer with his snide remark that the public doesn’t care about pork–tiny pork–billions and billions of tiny pork? Unreal!

    If a week devoted to review by all parties was asking too much of the leadership, we are in dire straits! The precedent has been set to ram all manner of legislation down our throats without review, for one only has to cite “Urgent, Stimulus”!

    Why don’t we simplify the whole thing and do away with the Congress? That seems to be the idea.

    Democrats are dictating to us!

  78. odograph says:

    I would love to get a discussion on the core concept, that if we arguably need stimulus, how do we most effectively get it – but I’m afraid I’m not seeing these ‘pork’ cries as that.

    Those seem to be falling back to the cognitive dissonance – that you can do stimulus without spending, or with congress, or without the particular sausage works that is our Congress.

    I get that some folks are “simplifying” their minds, by saying that since Congress is messy, since some fraction of spending will be less effective, therefore we should do none …

    but as much I get it, I also get that it is not a rational economic argument. It dodges the real economic questions.

  79. steve says:

    If we get to use Obama’s numbers and claim that he has already put us 13 trillion into debt doesnt he get to use his numbers claiming that it worked and the economy is doing better? While not happy about the deficit I at least have the feeling it is being run up in an effort to improve the economy when it is in trouble. The supply siders ran it up even while the economy was booming.

    Steve

  80. odograph says:

    In terms of how strange “stimulus” is to economists, or for that matter Republicans, remember that President George W. Bush appointed Ben “Helicopter” Bernanke as Chairman of the Federal Reserve in 2006.

    Can anyone tell me why “Helicopter” and who he is reported to be quoting?

    (I’d love to know why Bush’s government appointed a Depression expert in 2006, what cracks, if any, they saw forming!)

  81. Jim Durbin says:

    Here’s my simple minded point.

    The idea of a bailout was sold for TARP I and the Big 3. It didn’t work. Then they had TARP II. Then a stimulus package whose reasoning was any money spent was good money, and which was used to give money to organizations that elect Democrats and have little fiscal value, all while being sold as investment in roads and bridges and education.

    Then there’s the appropriation bill, which is filled with 9,000 earmarks, and is another 400 billion.

    This spending is sold as investment, similar to saying you’re borrowing money for college loans to improve your future, but all you did was take the money and blow it on your beer and pizza.

    It doesn’t take much to say that we’d be better off spending nothing than borrowing it to waste it, while increasing the long term obligations.

    Maybe that’s too simple. I’m sure we should just sit back and trust the honest folks in Congress. Except the process is broken. Any fool can see that.

    The purpose of the tea parties is to educate and make the attempt to bring us back from this precipice. It’s not an Obama thing. He’s just gasoline on the fire. It’s been a long-term problem since the 1930’s – a slow creep towards more governmental control that will end badly.

    It always has. Forgive us for not kneeling and accepting our chains.

  82. mannning says:

    Good points, Jim. You have added dimension to my inclusion of FDR in the gaggle of Presidents that are stakeholders in our troubles, and to the current untimely and unaffordable spending spree of astronomical sums.

    It is indeed the correct view that we need something like the Tea Parties in order to get the message out, provide the truth about the spending through educational materials and talks, and to create more widespread knowledge and enthusiasm for the conservative approach and how to defend it against the entrenched opposition.

    In a real sense, we are fighting a battle for our beliefs, and for what we believe is best for the nation and all of its people. Any effort that furthers these goals is to be commended. Grassroot enthusiasm cannot be wrong to promote, with the one caveat that the effort must not peak too soon, only to sputter out before the next elections.

  83. anjin-san says:

    my inclusion of FDR in the gaggle of Presidents that are stakeholders in our troubles,

    Interesting viewpoint. My wife’s boss, who is a wealthy, conservative lifelong Republican who actually lived through the depression, (and thinks the sun shines out of Bush’s ass) flatly says that FDR saved the country in his first term.

    I think I will go with the informed opinion, and leave manning to pat himself on the back over what a great patriot he is.

  84. odograph says:

    You know it’s funny – why didn’t TARP “work?”

    You can pretend that there was never a big economic problem, that it was all fear mongering, but if you do … surely a few hundred billion would “work.” Surely it wouldn’t keep a good economy down.

    If there wasn’t a problem the economy would be growing, as it usually does – rather than dropping 6% in GDP.

    I think critics have to balance their cognitive dissonance very carefully.

  85. Bithead says:

    So, your boss is an economist?

  86. anjin-san says:

    So, your boss is an economist?

    No, my boss is a CEO. I was discussing my wife’s boss. Read much bit?

  87. mannning says:

    So now we have the reflexive spin going that claim FDR saved the nation in the ’30s. I suggest you look carefully into what actually happened under FDR that respected economists say prolonged the depression far longer than was necessary.

    I feel a Google by you needed here, because there are good references to his negative showing. If you are helpless in this matter, I will find the references for you in a while.

  88. mannning says:

    Just Google the keywords: FDR Depression Worse and you will have a few dozen sources to read.