Tag Archives: health care reform
We now have an idea of what and who the Tea Party is, but what does it all mean?
Despite the obvious racism of the thread photo, the Tea Party is not, in my not so humble opinion, inherently racist.* As with any large group of people, there will always be that element that has “darker” motivations.
(In the interest of fairness, the man holding the sign in the thread photo was booted out of his local Tea Party chapter.)
It is clear, however, that much of the anger-fueled rhetoric from the Tea Party is focused on President Barack Obama and his “liberal” agenda. That is curious in light of the fact that most progressives feel that Obama has not been liberal enough.
The “Tea” in Tea Party is an acronym for “Taxed Enough Already” and much of the focus of the Party is on taxes and spending. Another focus is on the Constitution and the constitutionality of recently passed laws.
Tea Party wrath is aimed at incumbent politicians, yet those same office-holders and former office-holders regularly speak at Tea Party events, so it would seem apparently that the majority of the wrath is directed at incumbent Democrats.
A few incumbent Republicans have been deemed insufficiently conservative for the Tea Party and some have even been turned out of office for that reason.
So, is the Tea Party movement a grassroots semi-organization that is non-aligned, or is it merely the hard-right arm of the Republican Party?
The political landscape of America is largely a two party system. While third parties periodically pop up, most are short lived and fail to actually win state and Federal offices.
Tea Party goals and the rhetoric that backs them up is exclusively that of the far right champions such as Glen Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin. You can dress up the pitbull and slap on the make up, but it’s still a far right, Republican pitbull. There isn’t enough lipstick in the country to make that dog into anything else.
Is the Tea Party a viable political force for the future? A negative focus rarely makes for longevity, and the Party focus is largely negative.
The Great Recession will end, deficits will be reduced, benefits of TARP, the Stimulus and HCR will be recognized and, perhaps more important to the Tea Party, Barack Obama will leave office (after two terms) and the Tea Party will fade into a historical footnote.
*(Since I wrote this, the Tea Party Federation has kicked the Tea Party Express out of the Federation for a racist parody written and published by their spokesperson, Mark Williams. While I agree with little of the Tea Party philosophy, I do have to applaud their quick and decisive manner in dealing with a racist element within the Federation.)
William Stephenson Clark
Much has been made of the so-called inclusive grassroots nature of the Tea Party movement. While that sounds all American-y, warm and friendly, it basically isn’t true.
Note: (From the New York Times/CBS)
- Tea Party supporters were 89% white, 10% Hispanic and 1% black.
- 18% of Americans consider themselves Tea Party supporters.
- 90% of Tea Party supporters think the country is headed in the wrong direction.
- Tea Party supporters tend to be Republican, white, male, married and older than age 45.
- 54% of Tea Party supporters have a “favorable opinion” of the Republican party compared to 38% of the general public.
- 6% of Tea Party supporters have a favorable opinion of the Democratic party compared to 42% of the general public.
- 30% think President Obama was born outside the United States compared to 20% of the general public.
- More than half (52%) told the pollsters they think their own “income taxes this year are fair.”
- 25% think that the administration favors blacks over whites — compared with 11% of the general public.
- 7% approve of how President Obama is doing his job compared to 50% of the general public.
- 92% feel that President Obama’s policies are moving the US towards “socialism”, compared to 52% for the general public.
So, if you were to “build” an average Tea Partier, he would be male white, older, Republican, think that we’re headed for socialism and generally have an unfavorable view of Democrats and President Obama. While it was not noted in the polling, he would be a church going Christian with a secret crush on Sarah Palin.
The polling does not bear out the contention that the Tea Party movement is a “big tent” organization populated by a cross-section of average Americans.
So, what to make of this Tea Party?
(Tune in tomorrow for Part III)
William Stephenson Clark
Your not so humble columnist will make every effort to be even-handed with this piece, but sometimes you just run out of lipstick.
Tea Partiers claim that their movement is a Populist grass roots phenomenon, but there is much evidence that it is more Astro Turf and less natural grass. That aside, a few quick Tea Party factoids:
The Tea Party Contract from America
- Identify constitutionality of every new law: Require each bill to identify the specific provision of the Constitution that gives Congress the power to do what the bill does.
- Reject emissions trading: Stop the “cap and trade” administrative approach used to control pollution by providing economic incentives for achieving reductions in the emissions of pollutants.
- Demand a balanced federal budget: Begin the Constitutional amendment process to require a balanced budget with a two-thirds majority needed for any tax modification.
- Simplify the tax system: Adopt a simple and fair single-rate tax system by scrapping the internal revenue code and replacing it with one that is no longer than 4,543 words — the length of the original Constitution.
- Audit federal government agencies for constitutionality: Create a Blue Ribbon taskforce that engages in an audit of federal agencies and programs, assessing their Constitutionality, and identifying duplication, waste, ineffectiveness, and agencies and programs better left for the states or local authorities.
- Limit annual growth in federal spending: Impose a statutory cap limiting the annual growth in total federal spending to the sum of the inflation rate plus the percentage of population growth.
- Repeal the health care legislation passed on March 23, 2010: Defund, repeal and replace the HCR.
- Pass an ‘All-of-the-Above’ Energy Policy: Authorize the exploration of additional energy reserves to reduce American dependence on foreign energy sources and reduce regulatory barriers to all other forms of energy creation.
- Reduce Earmarks: Place a moratorium on all earmarks until the budget is balanced, and then require a 2/3 majority to pass any earmark.
- Reduce Taxes: Permanently repeal all recent tax increases, and extend permanently the George W. Bush temporary reductions in income tax, capital gains tax and estate taxes currently scheduled to end in 2011.
These are the “official” Tea Party positions.
What do you think?
(Part II tomorrow, Part III Wednesday.)
William Stephenson Clark
“Why do, basically, people with money have good health care and why do people who live on lower salaries not have good health care?”
It didn’t take long for Americans to come around on health-care reform: A new USA Today/Gallup poll shows 49 percent of Americans saying health-care reform is a “good thing,” with only 40 percent saying it is bad. This is a marked reversal from polling from before the legislation was passed and signed, which typically showed the public opposed. Forty-eight percent of respondents also say it’s just a “good first step” that needs to be followed up with more action. Additionally, congressional Republicans rate the lowest out of all the major players: Twenty-six percent said their work was excellent or good, while 34 percent say it was poor; for congressional Democrats, those numbers are 32 and 33 percent; for Barack Obama, they’re 46 and 31 percent.
Republicans appear ready to stand by the obstructionist strategy that failed to defeat health-care reform. “There will be no cooperation for the rest of the year,” McCain said on Monday. “They have poisoned the well in what they’ve done and how they’ve done it.” Senator Judd Gregg, meanwhile, said that the “the institution of Congress has been fundamentally harmed.” Gregg acknowledged, however, that health care could no longer be a winning issue for Republicans by November: “It’s very possible that people will not be as focused on this by next November.”
Read more at THE HILL.
We haven’t heard from Rep. Michele Bachmann in awhile, but it seems she’s right where we left her: The congresswoman from Minnesota told an audience it doesn’t have to obey the new health-care laws, should they pass. “Mark my words, the American people aren’t gonna take this lying down,” Bachmann said at a rally on Saturday. “We aren’t gonna play their game, we’re not gonna pay their taxes. They want us to pay for this? Because we don’t have to. We don’t have to. We don’t have to follow a bill that isn’t law. That’s not the American way, and that’s not what we’re going to do.” She went on, “This is dictatorial, what they are doing. we are not compelled to follow a non-law just because Obama and Pelosi tells us we have to.”
Maybe WE THE PEOPLE should ask the government NOT to pay this representative’s salary and benefits out of our tax money? Is there any hope she convinced enough people from Minnesota NOT to fill out their census forms and therefore a representative will be cut from their state?
Read more here.
Thanks to the 2006 and 2008 elections, conservatives no longer control the American government. They do, however, continue to essentially control the American media. As a case in point, you’ve probably heard that part of the Obama administration’s plan to pass health reform is to use the budget reconciliation process. The reason you’ve probably heard is that the press has been obsessed with the topic, repeatedly labeling it a “controversial” move that would “ram” legislation via an end-run around the normal legislative process.”
In fact, though most bills do not go through the reconciliation process—typically because their subject matter makes them ineligible—the process has been invoked frequently since 1980. And the reason it’s remained obscure until 2010 is that until the health-care debate, the press never saw fit to go into conniptions over congressional procedure.
Some of the mainstream media coverage of the reconciliation issue has been bad. Some of it, like this excellent NPR story, has been good.
Continue reading here.