Across the country, Tea Party activists protested on April 15 against the expansion of government. Thousands of these activists also formed a new “Contract for America” which lists their beliefs in how the country should be run.
Of the top-10 planks in the Contract, the No. 1 issue is protect the Constitution. That’s followed by reject cap-and-trade, demand a balanced budget and enact fundamental tax reform. And then comes number five: Restore fiscal responsibility and constitutionally limited government in Washington…
Filling out the Contract, the bottom-five planks are end runaway government spending; defund, repeal and replace government-run health care; pass an all-of-the-above energy policy; stop the pork; and stop the tax hikes.
Despite their belief President Barack Obama has raised taxes, federal taxes have actually decreased for most Americans under the newÂ administration.
Lost in the rhetoric was that taxes have gone down under Obama. Congress has cut individuals’ federal taxes for this year by about $173 billion, leaving Americans with a lighter load despite nearly $29 billion in increases by states. Obama plans to increase taxes on the wealthy to help pay for his health care overhaul and other programs.
To be fair, though, people associated with the Tea Party don’t seem to be as ludicrous as previously thought. A CBS/New York Times Poll listed a few notable attributes of this crowd:
As it turns out, earlier I happened to peruse a new CBS/New York Times poll detailing the attitudes of tea party activists, who, it turns out, are more educated than the average American, more reflective of mainstream anxieties than any populist movement in memory and more closely aligned philosophically with the wider electorate than any big-city newsroom in America.
What seemed to be the biggest news derived from the poll nationally? A plurality of tea party activists do not deem Sarah Palin qualified for the presidency — proving, I suppose, that some people have the ability to be exceptionally fond of a political celebrity without elevating her to sainthood.
More significantly, the polling showed that most tea party activists believe the taxes they pay are “fair.” The largest number of them want their movement to work to reduce the size of government rather than focus on cutting budget deficits or lowering taxes. Whether you concur or not with this viewpoint, it exhibits more economic sophistication than we often hear from pandering senatorial candidates.
It was news that tea party activists — unlike our president or most senators — send their children to public schools. (With a public monopoly in place, where else are they expected to send their children?) The majority of them also deem Social Security and Medicare worthy taxpayer burdens…
However, all of this seems to contrast with the speakers at these Tea Party protests. Samuel Wurzelbacher (Joe the Plumber) was asked at the Cincinnati rally on how he would solve illegal immigration and he responded:
“Illegal immigration?” he said. “Put a fence up and start shooting.”
As for the future of the Tea Party movement:
Such populist movements, which usually either fizzle or fold into established parties, are often fueled by “the kind of resentment that comes with powerlessness,” says Fordham University political scientist Tom De Luca.