Let’s Tea Party

I don’t know how anyone else feels but I think it is very clear that the Republican Party is caught in a timewarp.  Maybe not 1980, but sometime in the early Reagan Year or even pre-Reagan years.  And they are also trying to be 2009 hip.  The combination is ripe for hilarlity – unfortunately for the Republicans.  First there was Chairman Steeele saying he wanted to appeal to the hip hop crowd kinda like Karl Rove and his famous rap, I guess.  Now there is tea-bagging.  The tea baggers don’t seem to get it that we did really well with the higher tax rates – look at the Clinton years.  It is the Clinton tax rates the President wants to restore.

The original Boston Tea Party in 1773 protested the tax on tea without representation in Parliament.  If I recall my history, we had not yet decided to split from Mother England but just wanted to have some guys in Parliament.  I don’t think it was a protest on the tea tax directly.  The tax on tea touch everyone.  President Obama’s tax plan only effects the very top earners since the rest of us will get a little cut.  Bruce Bartlett, writing in Forbes.com, has posted some very interesting statisitics.

Next week is April 15, the day when most Americans have to file their federal income tax returns. To protest the allegedly high level of taxation in the United States, various right-wing groups are organizing tea parties around the country in the spirit of the Boston Tea Party of 1773.

The irony of these protests is that federal revenues as a share of the gross domestic product will be lower this year than any year since 1950. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the federal government will take only 15.5% of GDP in taxes this year, compared to 17.7% last year, 18.8% in 2007 and 20.9% in 2000.

The truth is that the U.S. is a relatively low-tax country no matter how you slice the data. The following tables illustrate this fact by comparing the U.S. to other members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a Paris-based research organization.

As Table 1 shows, total taxation (federal, state and local) amounted to 28% of the GDP in the U.S. in 2006. Only four of the 30 OECD countries had a lower tax ratio. Taxes averaged 35.9% for the OECD as a whole and 38% in Europe. Citizens of Denmark and Sweden paid very close to 50% of their total income in taxes.

Table 1: Total Taxes as a Share of GDP, 2006

Denmark

49.1

U.K.

37.1

Ireland

31.9

Sweden

49.1

Hungary

37.1

Greece

31.3

Belgium

44.5

Czech Rep.

36.9

Australia

30.6

France

44.2

N.Z.

36.7

Slovak Rep.

29.8

Norway

43.9

Spain

36.6

Switzerland

29.6

Finland

43.5

Luxembourg

35.9

U.S.

28.0

Italy

42.1

Portugal

35.7

Japan

27.9

Austria

41.7

Germany

35.6

Korea

26.8

Iceland

41.5

Poland

33.5

Turkey

24.5

Netherlands

39.3

Canada

33.3

Mexico

20.6

Source: OECD

Bartlett ends with an interesting observation. (I should say that he also has other charts comparing individual tax rates.)

The point is that one can’t look just at the taxes people pay here or elsewhere without looking at what they get in return. It doesn’t automatically follow that the places with the lowest taxes are the best places to live and work. This is obvious when we think about where to buy a house. We always look at the quality of local schools as a major factor and are willing to pay higher property taxes in return for good schools. The same is true at the national level as well. Higher taxes may pay for services that people value and thus are not as burdensome as they might appear at first glance.

So what are these tea parties really about?  And is this the best the Republicans can do to find a voice?  Once again we have to turn to Rachel Maddow.  Gabriela Resto-Montero writes this intro for the Nation

The “Tea Bag” movement spawned by a rant on CNBC by Rick Santelli seeks to protest the Obama tax cuts by imitating the revolutionary fathers’ Boston Tea Party, which in fact protested taxation without representation (the opposite of a tax cut). While the logic behind the protest is confusing, the right-wing’s complete lack of awareness about the term “Tea Bagging” is even more so. Rachel Maddow and Ana Marie Cox have some fun at the expense of clueless conservatives and point out that at long last Senator David Vitter may have found a worthy cause to champion.

And I have a really stupid question:  Are they throwing in the tea or the entire tea bag?  If it is the entire tea bag, they are really polluting our lakes and rivers with paper made not to dissolve in water.

3 thoughts on “Let’s Tea Party

  1. “Some of it went to an unncecessary war and I haven’t a clue where the rest disappeared.”
    Try reading the bills, they tells you where the money is going. The budget Obama and the Democrats put forward increased spending in everything except the military, I still haven’t figured out how you cut military spending by 10% during a war.
    The services Obama wants to spend still more on is “green” energy, buying up land to be owned by the government(an unconstitutional action), and buying the preferred stock of privately owned companies(ie GM, Wells Fargo, etc., again unconstitutional), he wants to spend money on forcing “volunteerism” on our children, and now seeks the power to monitor and shut down the internet at anytime he sees fit. He is also pushing for universal health care on the taxpayers dime.
    Those are the things the Tea Party Movement opposes. It is not only Republicans attending the Tea Parties, Democrats are there as well.

  2. While the original Tea Party of the 1700’s was about lack of representation, this time there is much more to it. This time it is about the increase of taxes of all kinds, including tobacco, fuel, income, tax on business, the death tax, etc. Anyone that doesn’t believe those tax increases apply across the board to those who make less than $250,000, doesn’t really understand how the economy works. If you increase the taxes on businesses, those tax increases are passed on to the customer. Business pays no actual tax, they pass that cost to their customers, in effect any tax increase has hidden taxes for even the poorest Americans.
    The Tea Party Movement is also about the massive spending the Government has engged in over the pst several years, and increasingly so since January. Spending that has led to a budget deficit that dwarfs any we have ever seen as a nation, and threatens our children and grandchildren for decdes to come, if they can get out from under it even then.
    The Tea Party Movement now is in protest of increasing Government control and interference in Americans’ lives as well. As the nation moves closer to socialism, some of us who oppose socialism want a platform to express our opposition, the Tea Party Movement provides that platform.
    The Tea Party Movement is the American Right’s version of the anti-war and anti-capitalism movements of the American Left in recent years.

    • I’m afraid I don’t agree with you about the tax issue. Maybe the Tea Party movement is the right’s answer to the anti-war movement, we will have to see.

      Republicans and tea partiers want services, the same as the rest of us who are willing to pay for them. If you want your roads fixed, trash collected, police on the street, teachers in the schools, etc., we have to pay for them. If you want your food safe, you have to pay. The massive government spending you talk about did not go toward any of those services. Some of it went to an unncecessary war and I haven’t a clue where the rest disappeared. All I know is that, for example, food is not being inspected and that everything was being privatized which actually costs more in more ways that money.

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