If you are reading this and you are one of the demonstrators at the so-called tea parties, there is a lot you obviously don’t know. If you demonstrate against the administration that was elected to restore some rights and some measure of equality for the middle classes then when you protest you are working against YOUR OWN BEST INTERESTS!
Before you protest again, please try to call up a small amount of concentration and think for a minute. Is the American government’s $11 trillion debt helping you in any way? Of course not. Did you see any of that $11 trillion, except in a couple of small tax breaks that you probably never felt? No, you didn’t. That is because the tax cuts were designed to give about $43,000 per million–each million–of taxes paid back to the wealthy. From 2001 to 2008, this country was run into huge debt by a Conservative Party that has never and still does not work for the average citizen. Unions, the minimum wage, Medicare for the elderly, Veterans’ benefits, OSHA, ERISA…all the laws that protect citizens…and now universal, affordable health insurance…not to mention 40 hour weeks and two week vacations and severance laws…all these are products of the efforts of the Democratic Party.
In 2008, the Democratic Party nominated a man of the people. Barack Obama after graduating from Columbia University, spent several years as a community organizer for about $13,000 a year in some of the poorest, most depressed neighborhoods of the country. He then went to law school to get some leverage from the law to help these people and went into state government to help them. He had no rich or powerful friends. He had no family close by, no one to fall back on but himself…the kind of independent, self-assured, risk taking, straight shooting kind of person we all think we are…or have the capacity to be…as Americans. But we don’t. Almost all of us fall far short.
And what is his reward? To be chastised by some ugly, ignorant tea baggers, depicted with caricatures of him as Hitler and swastikas, which of course are mindless, foolish, crude slanders, exactly the opposite of what he stands for. Who is more like Hitler…someone who is a racist, making comparisons of elected national elected officials and people of a certain race as animals, as less than white people. Who is the racist…the one who depicts a courageous, honest, extremely intelligent and well-educated African-American President as a Here’s the truth about why you find yourself in the current miserable situation, if you do, of tens of millions of Americans.
In 2001, the year George W. Bush took office, the Federal Budget was in surplus…more money taken in than was owed for that year…by $281 billion. The federal deficit from Reagan and Bush I and some of the Clinton years was a cumulative $5.16 trillion. Clinton had tried to reduce the deficit by raising the top rate on income from 35% to 39%. That, plus some very aggressive cost cutting, made easier because the Republican House and Senate did not want him to get credit for anything new, and some very smart business initiatives created the surplus and prosperity that had raised incomes by 14%, cut unemployment to 3.9% (it is virtually 10% today) and put the government on a solid footing for the future.
Then came George W. Bush and Dick Cheney and their friends in industry. Not YOUR friends. Oh, no. Not by a long shot.
The Congressional Budget Office, in 2001, projected that the $281 billion surplus would grow to $710 billion in 2009. An annual surplus. In other words, almost the entire health care program of the United States, including Medicare and Medicaid…even before reforms for efficiency….could have been paid for out of a fraction of the annual surpluses.
But George W. Bush and Dick Cheney changed the policy for what can only be assumed to be two principal reasons. First, to give huge tax breaks to very wealthy individuals. Second, to create huge government paid or approved windfalls to the military industrial complex, the financial and health care industries and the oil industry. That is the conclusion because that was the result of their policies. And when the financial sector was let run free, it created credit default swaps, pieces of paper that supposedly guaranteed bundles of mortgages. Without regulators overseeing the process, mortgage loans were made to anyone. As house prices leveled off, mortgages began to foreclose. As that happened the credit default swaps became transparently worthless and huge financial institutions, which…again, unregulated…had speculated heavily, began to fail. That all happened in 2008, on George W. Bush’s “watch.” Or lack of it.
These hugely wealthy individuals did lose some money but primarily other people’s money, namely, yours and mine. Those investors who were truly foolish gambled their own money and lost. People on Wall Street lost jobs and bonuses. But the real people who suffered from Neoconservative greed were the average Americans who saw their home prices drop, who could not pay off their second mortgages, who lost jobs and retirement funds. Some of these people must…they must…be some of the tea baggers. Why don’t they know the truth?
The truth is that by 2009, the deficit would become an astounding $1.67 trillion, at a time when the GDP was already low as a result of the Bush 2008 financial collapse. There were four principal causes of the huge deficit. First, the tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 are responsible for about a third of that number. The TARP, under Bush, was another $336 billion. But according to CBO, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, commonly known as the stimulus, is only $181 billion, just 7.6%, of the 2009 budget deficit. So the idea of tea baggers that we are suddenly becoming Socialist is not only true, it is ludicrous. There is no basis to it at all.
So, if you are one of those demonstrators, this is why you feel that you have lost your freedom. Because income has shifted to the top 1%. Your real wages have gone down. Your health insurance has been going up at an average of fifteen percent per year and your income has remained static. Because of lax regulation and deliberately understaffed government departments, including the SEC, private industry has been allowed to consolidate, with only a few firms in each industry. So, while there is no collusion to raise prices, there is little competition to prevent it. Worse, consumers or small businesses have little or no leverage against any kind of corporate grievance. Where is your leverage against the cable companies or the health insurance firms?
There are some people among the protestors who are simply bigots. That is clear. And some are white supremacists. That is also clear. They have all, the shouters, the screamers, the people asking for their “freedom” back and not knowing really what they mean…these people are all now identified with the Republican Party. Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh encouraged and adopted them. Sean Hannity embraces them. Senator Mitch McConnell, leader of the Republican Senate welcomes them. The radical right wing has now become the Republican Party. They are distasteful, dishonorable and vile. Not for protesting, but for the distasteful, dishonorable and vile way that they are doing it. But, thank God, the Republicans are becoming only these people plus the very, very rich who would never allow even one of these people…the ones carrying signs for the rich…on their property, let alone into their homes. They wouldn’t get past the gate.
Finally, it is interesting. For years the Democratic Party worked for the people and against the entrenched power of Bush and Rove and Cheney and the military industrial complex. They worked to elect at first a few then more and now a dominant majority in the House and the 60-Senator majority needed to pass anything, plus the Presidency. They worked for and got..the minimum wage and healthcare for poor children. Despite over 100 Republican filibusters in the Senate since 2006 with which they denied many other benefits to middle class Americans.
So you don’t see Democrats out parading. They are at home emailing their elected representatives, telling them what they want. And they will get it. This is still a Democracy. So if the Tea Baggers want their “freedom” back, they will find it at the ballot box.