“This tea tastes funny, Grandpa.” A comment from one of my grandsons yesterday at a Chinese restaurant. He and his brother were not used to the bitter taste of oolong. It made me wonder about that set of tea-drinkers who have been publicly displaying their ignorance at local gatherings all across America lately. Perhaps they’ve been drinking the wrong tea, too. Has the tea been adulterated, one might inquire, causing some mental retardation?
There have been a slew of recent comments on this blog from Sepp, a self-identified tea party-goer who is challenging us non-drinkers. He ‘believes’ that we are just a bunch of liberal Obama lackeys and are blinded by his aura so that we cannot see the real ‘problems’ that this nation faces.
The real problems. Of course, the real problems are actually only one problem- too much damned taxation. These 21st century Boston patriot look-alikes probably don’t even know the real history behind that tea-dumping event but ASSumed that it was something about ‘taxation without representation.’ I defer to Laci for a remedial history lesson if he cares to educate the masses.
Taxes. Too much. Always too much for slurpers of the amber beverage. I find it odd [oddity #1] that their tax-dander never arose until President Obama came to office. Were they asleep for the past decade or two? Why was it the Obama presidency that piqued their collective outrage? What did he do that mobilized the masses to action?
Oh sure, if you are one of those quarter-million-dollar earners and had been enjoying those low tax rates enacted by Bush, you might feel ‘cheated’ out of that discretionary spending fund that you had accumulated for those glorious 8 years under Bush. Are those guys out in the streets in their Brooks Bros. suits waving placards? From what I’ve seen, the group looks like the J.C. Penny crowd or Walmart.
So if the Tea Party represents 18% of America as shown in the recent CBS/NYT survey and the +$250K households represent 2.5% of America, then 15.5% of the Tea Party activists did not see their taxes increase under the Obama budget. In fact, they probably saw a tax decrease because 95% of Americans saw a tax decrease in their 2009 tax liability.
Why the whining?
Perhaps it is tax spending that bitters their tea. Ah, yes, the tax and spend Democrats! Our local tea party commenter gave us the spending data. He wrote:
20% goes to the military
33% medicare, medicaid and “other” mandatory
21% social security
18% Non defense discretionary
8% toward the interest on the national debt
Here comes the problem [oddity #2] with those self-identified tea-partiers. The survey revealed that a large majority of them are receiving government benefits either as Social Security and/or Medicare. They enjoy those entitlements. They don’t want THOSE programs cut back or altered. No sir. Don’t touch my government check.
OK, we won’t touch that 54% of the budget.
Then, where ought we ‘cut’ the spending. Interestingly, as I type this morning, the CBS program, Sunday Morning is profiling the Tea Party. Bang-off, the signs. Lots of ‘fascism’ signs and of course the misspelled anti-Obama signs. Yet not a one that reads, “CUT DEFENSE SPENDING!” Not one. Patriots, you know. The Military-Industrial Complex deserves all of the tax money it needs to ‘keep us safe.’ No Tea Party enthusiast would ever be caught holding one of those ANTI-MILITARY SPENDING signs. An American flag, yes!
How much for 2010? How about $663.7 billion. That’s up 12.7% from fiscal 2009 because Obama included the two wars in his budget which Bush never did. Two-thirds of a trillion dollars for ‘defense.’ What does America get for that kind of money? Security. Security from that other global threat and ‘evil’ empire fill in the blank . Well, surely there is some threat out there…
Nope. Nobody. Yet our defense budget is ½ of the world’s total defense budget. Half. But not one single sign in the tea crowd calling for a cut in Defense allocations. Not one.
So where do these people want to cut spending? It must be in the remaining 25%. Where else to cut if not Military, Social Security and Medicare?
How about Veterans, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Education, Energy, Housing…? Were talking peanuts- pocket change. Veterans is 7% of the Defense Budget. Homeland Security- 6%. Education- 7%. Housing- 7%. Transportation 11%. Energy- 4%.
Pocket change. Which of the above programs would yield ‘real’ cuts in taxes, tangible results? I’m betting that they would love to fool around with Education and Housing and surely Science and the EPA. Wow! One can only ‘imagine’ the savings if these programs were cut or eliminated!
So there’s the conundrum: taxes and spending. That’s part of their ‘anger.’ Yet, I think that these two things are a cover for their real anger. What is actually seething inside of these older white, conservative men? Only they know for sure. And we will never really know.
One final question. As “fascism” signs are quite popular in Tea Party rallies, one might ask, Sarah Palin style- “How’s that Military-Industrial Complex thingy goin’ for ya?”