Why DC Ignores Real Problems And What You Can Do About It

How many real and serious national problems can you list? And how many obvious solutions can you come up with literally off the top of your head? Now an experiment: list how many of them are being worked on by our DC elites or even discussed my our elite media? The answer is none. Why is this? And what can you do about it?

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Tea Party Delivers Their Messaging on Reality TV. Is this How Propaganda Starts?

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The Bristol Palin story is like that of a modern day Cinderella as she debuts before millions of viewers on prime time television. Her mother, former Governor Sarah Palin and her advisors are completely brilliant. Thank you very much Frank and Company. This is a media doctor’s wet dream. Using Bristol as Cinderella, they have successfully reached into the hearts and minds of everyday folks across the country. Think about it. Is there a better way to seep into the mainstream than reality television? This move is one of the most brilliant tactics of twentieth century political messaging. Sarah Palin becomes the archetype of everyone’s mom, and paradoxically her daughter is the modern day rags to riches and success story. Here was a chubby, single mom lifted out of the obscurity of her receptionist job in a strip mall in godforsaken Alaska. It does not get better!
Consider that after the debacle of former Republican leader Tom Delay on the same show, these spin masters were smart. They knew it probably would not have worked out to use Sarah herself. But who could resist her kid? She’s likeable, and works very hard for herself and her adorable child. Bristol is the single mom personified. They even show the footage of the storefront from which she was plucked. Oh my, this is every girl’s cherished dream sans the out-of-wedlock pregnancy. And momma Palin can just stand back, and watch it unfold. Who could accuse her of manipulation? She was just the proud momma. What better image could there be? Not much and it is working. No wonder her daughter has been voted back each and every week by viewer support – not the judges until one of the final evenings when she showed real talent.
There is something going on here, and we didn’t even see it coming. Oh woe is me; I think we have been duped yet again. Somehow, the American public perceives that the Democrats are unfeeling, out of touch with Middle America, and arrogant. How did this happen? We are Middle America! Yet somehow, Sister Palin has her thumb on the pulse. We need to look carefully at the subliminal messaging that is going on, and wonder how and why we could have missed it. Call it what you may, but Sarah Palin and her movement – the Tea Party and their advisors are running circles around us. We are losing the game of public opinion. So it is not proposed that we put the Vice President’s son, Beau Biden on Survivor; but rather that we look hard and long at the messaging and how it is being delivered. Further, we need to embrace what it will take for us to reach back out and connect. This is the teachable moment. May we reach out and own it.
Note, this article appeared earlier in the Huffington Post, “Bristol Goes Dancing and Has a Tea Party.”

Tea Party Betrayed: Earmarks

I have been writing about the Tea Party, and asking what they will do if/when the DC Republicans betray them. CAF has set up a page for the Tea Party Getting Played series. This is the latest in the series.
The Tea Party candidates vowed they would be different, would stick to basic principles and not waver, and not back down.
It is safe to say that Kentucky Senator-elect Rand Paul is one of the leaders of the Tea Party movement. Here is what was on his campaign website, and I want tp put the whole thing here so there is no mistaking what voters were led to believe:

Rand Paul has made a ban on wasteful earmark spending in Washington D.C. one of the key points of his campaign. He has supported Sen. Jim DeMint’s vocal support for an earmark ban and he supports news that House Democrats are even coming around on the idea of a partial ban.
“The Tea Party movement is an effort to get government under control,” Rand said. “I’m running to represent Kentuckians and to dismantle the culture of professional politicians in Washington. Leadership isn’t photo-ops with oversized fake cardboard checks. That kind of thinking is bankrupting our nation. Senator DeMint understands that and has taken action to stop it.”
Rand’s emphasis on reform has ruffled a lot of establishment feathers, but it is clear that the more regular citizens are getting the message every day as his campaign continues to grow.

That’s a pretty solid, unequivocal statement, isn’t it? That was what Tea Party supports and voters were told. Unequivocal.
Now he is elected. And how is this for equivocating? Rand Paul Suggests He’ll Fight For Earmarks He Earlier Promised To Ban:

Less than a week after his election, Kentucky’s Senator-elect Rand Paul already appears to be making a rapid departure away from one of his campaign promises: an earmark ban that stood as a conservative cornerstone, a position Paul touted to indicate he was serious about tackling the reckless spending practices of Washington.
Here’s what Paul told the Wall Street Journal over the weekend:

In a bigger shift from his campaign pledge to end earmarks, he tells me that they are a bad “symbol” of easy spending but that he will fight for Kentucky’s share of earmarks and federal pork, as long as it’s doled out transparently at the committee level and not parachuted in in the dead of night. “I will advocate for Kentucky’s interests,” he says.

So, here’s the record. While campaigning the new Senator from Kentucky took the Tea Party position against earmarks. But one week after the election he says he will fight for Kentucky’s share of earmarks and federal pork. From Tea Party hero to DC Insider in a week! What are the Tea Party supports going to do about it?
And that is the question I have been asking: What will Tea Party members do when their politicians betray them? For decades the game on the conservative side was to campaign against abortion, gays and other “culture war” issues, or appeal to raw fear, but then once in office to ignore those issues and always, always reward the big corporations — and, oh, yeah, more tax cuts for the rich. Now it looks like the same thing is happening to the Tea Party supporters as well. So what are they going to do about it?
And on the “liberal” side we’ve seen campaign after campaign promising to do things for the middle class and for labor and for the elderly and for the poor but then once in office reward the big corporations instead. This is a serious question for democracy: what are we going to do about it?
Take a look at the growing list of posts here in the Tea Party Getting Played series.
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Tea Party Betrayed Already?

I have been writing about the Tea Party, and asking what they will do if/when the DC Republicans betray them. CAF has set up a page for the Tea Party Getting Played series. Read the latest in the series: Tea Party Betrayed: Earmarks.
So, how’s that new Tea Party Congress working out for Tea Party supporters who expected that the lobbyists were going to be cleared out, the “too-big-to-fail” Wall Street banks brought under control and laws enforced?
The election was Tuesday, and on Thursday the expected new Chair of the House financial services committee warned regulators to lay of Wall Street, particularly Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase, and not enforce the “Volker Rule” in the new Wall Street reform law. That’s right, told them not to enforce the law.
In Financial Times, US regulators warned on new bank legislation, (Matthew Yglesias c/o Brad DeLong)

Spencer Bachus, a potential Republican chairman of the House financial services committee, has fired the first salvo in a battle with regulators – warning them against harming US banks by curbing their trading activity.
. . . Mr Bachus says that a ban on proprietary trading – known as the Volcker rule – … in the new Dodd-Frank financial reform law will “impose substantial costs on the American economy and market participants” with “doubtful” benefits.
. . . The proprietary trading ban, named after Paul Volcker, the former Federal Reserve chairman who proposed it, was opposed by most Republicans when it was passed by Congress in June. It also restricts banks’ investments in hedge funds and private equity firms.

Last week, in Tea Party Members VS Tea Party Wall Street Funders, I pointed out that Tea Party supporters expect their politicians to do something about Wall Street bailouts, lawbreaking and “too-big-to-fail” domination of the economy, but Tea Party candidates were receiving a great deal of funding from that very same Wall Street. This set up a potential conflict between Tea Party supporters and Tea Party politicians.
Now that the election is over, we’re all just waiting for what we think is coming, and asking: What will Tea Party members do when their politicians betray them?
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Tea Party Test: Korea Free Trade Agreement

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture as part of the Making It In America project. I am a Fellow with CAF.
The “Tea Party” will face many tests when the new Congress convenes next year. Everyone is asking, how long will it take before the Tea Party officeholders are co-opted by the big money insiders? “Free Trade” is one of those tests.
Tea Party members absolutely despise “free trade” agreements that have forced companies to close factories and ship jobs out of the country. They want to see “Made In America” in stores again. But the D.C. insiders, backed by big money from the big, monopolist, multinational corporations, insist on even more of these agreements. Which way will the Tea Party officeholders go?
Next up: the US-Korea Free Trade Agreement. The D.C. insiders want this one bad. Tea Party supporters do not want any more of these job-sucking one-sided agreements. Who will win? Negotiated by Bush, this is another one-sided agreement, letting Korea export like crazy to the U.S., but not addressing non-tariff barriers that Korea places on bringing U.S.-made goods into their country. (Korea places regulatory and tax barriers to limit imports along with tariff barriers that the trade agreement addresses. So in effect we would be removing our tariff barriers on Korean imports, while they keep their other barriers to our exports.)
The Ford Motor Company placed an ad in Washington news outlets today, opposing the Korea agreement:

Ford’s concern is autos, but there are many other concerns as well. Take a look at what American beef producers say about this agreement.
This is one more one-sided trade agreement designed to let Wall Street-dominated firms outsource manufacturing and jobs, so they can further squeeze American workers and make short-term profits and bonuses from selling off American capacities and technologies. They are selling off our country’s and our people’s ability to make a living, to put a few quick bucks in their own pockets.
Trade is good. Honest, free and fair trade brings prosperity to everyone involved. Unfortunately, the kind of one-sided, exploitative trade deals that have been negotiated in the past might have made a few elites very rich in the short term but are impoverishing everyone else. The trick is negotiating better “We, the People” outcomes rather than the “shut up and take it or we’ll move your job out of the country” outcomes that have allowed the wealthy elite to set working people here against working people there.
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The Marlboro Man Can Grab a Smoke With Obama

Today begins the days of John Boehner, aka the Orange Man. Listen, you can hear his horse approaching. Oh my, it’s like a new Marlboro commercial. Guess he and Obama can grab a smoke together outside the Oval Office. Yikes! That’s a real Hallmark moment.
Early this morning, Progressive blogger, Dave Johnson extolled the virtues of the Progressive bloggers that “were right,” and he and they were correct. “It was about the jobs, jobs, and jobs.” But let’s be blunt — there are no jobs; there is no money being loaned; employment is rampant; the banks are paying a whopping 1% interest on savings; and now there is NO hope and the inmates have taken the keys!
Yeah, we know that a loss was anticipated in an incumbent year, but not one that lost hope. Sadly, the American people either stayed home, or voted for the lunatics that were responsible for the situation. Obama and all those Democratic spin masters blew it big time. They allowed the Tea Party — fueled by Frank Luntz’s rhetoric– to harness this rage and win the day. How the heck did that happen? Now, the every person in this country has just had a profound temper tantrum, and the collateral damage is huge.
Please note that a version of this article was published earlier today in the Huffington Post.

What Will Tea Party Members Do When Their Politicians Betray Them?

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture I am a Fellow with CAF.
Tea Party members hate Wall Street bailouts, trade deals like NAFTA, job outsourcing, giant corporations buying laws, government spending, and elites telling the rest of us what to do. But there is no question that their candidates – many of them wealthy corporatists themselves – are funded by big corporations (even foreign oil companies) and Wall Street. So the question is, once in Congress will they vote with their base or their owners? And when they vote with the people who bought them, what will Tea Party members do about it?
Trade
Tea Party members want to be able to buy things that are “Made In America” in stores again. I have yet to meet a Tea Party supporter who doesn’t absolutely hate NAFTA, WTO and other one-sided “free trade” agreements. They say these treaties “violate our sovereignty.” But Tea Party candidates are funded by groups like the Chamber of Commerce and others who are the drivers of these “free trade” policies that close American factories and send jobs out of the country. This does not bode well for these candidates voting the way Tea Party members expect them to if they are elected.
Outsourcing
Tea Party members are astonished when they learn that the government gives companies tax breaks that encourage companies to send jobs away. But just a month ago a bill to do something about this was filibustered in the Senate by a unanimous Republican caucus. One thing about Tea Party candidates – they’re also unanimously Republicans. Does anyone other than Tea Party members really think the Tea Part candidates are going to go against the now-unanimous Republican support for these outsourcing incentives if elected? Tea Party candidate Scott Brown didn’t after he was elected.
Bailouts
If there is one thing that unites all Tea Party members, it is hatred of the Bush Bank Bailouts (except they think these passed under Obama.) But this is an area where their leaders will almost certainly stand with the banks, because that’s where the money is — their campaign money to be precise. The other day I wrote about In Oregon one Wall Street hedge fund manager is spending up to $1 million (pocket change) on a front group to elect a Tea Party candidate and unseat a Congressman who sponsored a couple of Wall Street reform bills.
Government Spending
Will Tea Party politicians vote to balance the budget? Really? Their members certainly expect them to. But like so many misinformed Americans, Tea Party members think the government spends most of its money on welfare and foreign aid. This is why Tea Party candidates refuse to specify just what spending they will cut to balance the budget. (Also see here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, etc.)
So when they get into office will they really cut spending — where the spending really is? There are plenty of reasons to think they won’t. The first and foremost reason is they are funded by people like the Chamber of Commerce who really, really want that spending to keep flowing. This is why Republicans increased government spending and deficits so much the last time they were in charge. In fact, there are reasons to think they’ll incresase spending. For example, they hate health care reform, but if they really vote to repeal it they will increase the deficit, because the reform cuts the projected deficits by at least $138 billion.
But the bloated, huge, vast, overwhelming military budget might be worth a look. We spend more on military than every other country combined. (Total military-related spending actually pretty closely matched the deficit this year.) What do you think the odds are that the Tea Party politicians will cut the military budget?
Foreign Oil
Tea Party members understand that our addiction to foreign oil is harmful. We spend more than $300 billion a year on foreign oil — much of it sent to the Middle East (MUSLIMS!) — and need to find alternative sources of energy. But Koch Oil is the primary organizer, supporter, funder, and everything of the Tea Party, as well as much of the so-called “conservative movement.” But Koch Oil is mostly about oil, not representative government. This is why they directly fund or set up front groups to support climate denial or oppose transit projects, alternative energy, even energy conservation. So don’t expect Tea Party leaders to do anything — anything — that Koch Oil doesn’t want them to do.
What Happens When Tea Party Members Are Betrayed?
It’s pretty clear that the Tea Party members are being set up for a big disappointment. There is little chance that the politicians they are supporting are going to do what the members think they’re going to do once in office. The members might supply the votes, but the big corporations behind so many of the things that the Tea Party members hate are the ones supplying the money and organization. These politicians, once in office, will understand that the big money can go after them just as well is it went for them this time, if they don’t do what they’re told by their big corporate funders. But on the other hand, there will be lucrative lobbying jobs waiting for them if they play along. They are going to disappoint the Tea Party members, no question. What will Tea Party members do then?
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Are Tea Party Members Getting Played?

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture I am a Fellow with CAF.
Are the Main Street Tea Party members getting “played” by Wall Street and big-corporate billionaires? There is a big, big, big difference between what the regular members and the big-money funders expect. If Tea Party candidates get elected will they do what their supporters want, or what their Wall Street and big-corporation funders demand?
What Tea Party Members Want
I just finished a week driving around Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia attending and writing about the “Keep It Made In America” Town Hall meetings. At these meetings and on the road I had occasion to talk to self-identified members of “Tea Party” groups. My conversations tell me, and polling confirms, that the regular day-to-day Tea Party supporters want government to stop job outsourcing and help American manufacturers. And even more than that they really don’t like trade agreements like NAFTA. In fact some go so far as to say that NAFTA and the WTO violate our country’s sovereignty. And even more than that they hate Bush’s bailout of Wall Street (but have been told Obama did it).
What Tea Party Funders Want
At the same time I saw and heard ad after ad after ad after ad that backed Tea Party-type candidates, that were paid for by the Chamber of Commerce and other front groups for Wall Street and the big multinational monopolist corporations that live off of “free trade” and have been closing factories and outsourcing jobs. And the Tea Party was originally set up by and is largely funded and maintained by front groups for this same crowd.
Here is just one example of how much the Tea Party is funded by these front groups: In Oregon one Wall Street hedge fund manager is spending up to $1 million (pocket change) on a front group to elect a Tea Party candidate and unseat a Congressman who didn’t do his bidding and sponsored a couple of Wall Street reform bills. Do you think the Main Street Tea Party members in Oregon expect their Tea Party candidate to support or oppose measures that further enrich Wall Street hedge fund managers? I’ll give you three guesses and the answers are Main Street, Main Street and Not Wall Street. Do you think the Tea Party candidate will dare? I’ll give you one guess.
Will Tea Party Members Or Funders Win Out?
So the regular Tea Party people hate NAFTA and “free trade” agreement, Wall Street bailouts, want a stop to job outsourcing and want help for American manufacturing — but the people behind them and funding their ads do not. What will happen if these candidates get into office? Will they stick with their Tea Party supporters from Main Street, or will the be beholden to the big-money behind their campaigns? As Upton Sinclair said, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!”
This is a very, very serious problem. The “crowd” instincts of regular people are usually pretty good and even in the Tea Parties they understand the damage that “free trade,” Wall Street, big-corporate interests and the rest of the “free enterprise” crowd have done to the country. But the big money is steering them away from the solutions that their collective gut tells them are right.
Serious Consequences
The financial crisis that Obama inherited has not really gone away. The unsustainable trade deficit that has been growing since Reagan is draining our economy. The huge budget deficit that Bush left behind — caused by tax cuts and military spending increases — has not gone away. Global warming has certainly not gone away. All of these problems are still there. We may be headed into a trade war, we need to rebalance the global economy, the rest of the world is jumping on the Green Industrial Revolution and we are not — but we can’t even begin to have a reasonable conversation about it because the entrenched wealthy interests are able to purchase the megaphone, microphone and amplification system that let’s people hear the arguments.
I say yes, the Main Street supporters of the Tea Party are getting played. What I want to know is, what will they do if the Tea Party candidates get elected, and then support “free trade’ and Wall Street and all of that? Will go even further to the right, or will they start to figure it out?
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The Great American Credit Catastrophe

The 911 of the Middle Class is the consumer credit debacle. It is the gift that keeps on giving. The reality is that the housing crisis is just one piece of this really big, ugly mess. It seems to me that our President MUST call for immediate reform and take action through executive order. Call me politically naïve, but we need action. Unemployment continues to hover close to 10%, and higher in badly hit areas. Interest paid by the banks on savings ranges from less than 1% to maybe 2.5% on a good day. The consumer credit card companies, though regulated now sort of, ran naked through the streets jacking up everyone’s interest rates to over 15 to 30%. Yes they have to notify the poor, irresponsible slobs now before they do things, but the banks still get to burn kerosene in the town square with no permits. And we haven’t even gotten to the health insurance yahoos that have four more years for their trickery. Oh Nelly, bar the door! It’s the Wild West again as the cattle are corralled – only this time it’s the American people being herded to ruin by the giddy-up bankers and health insurance companies, not just the mortgage guys.
People are getting sick from worry. Their backs hurt, their necks are out, and they are grinding their pearly whites. Few sleep well at night. Pharmaceutical sales are up. The banks we saved are savaging us. They are bulldozing the Middle Class under mountains of debt. People are losing their homes, divorces are up, businesses are closing, and unemployment is rampant. The consumer credit world and their FICO scores are broken. They are based on a world that no longer exists. In two short years, many consumers have watched their scores collapse under an avalanche of debt. The FICO scores were calibrated for a different time when consumer credit cards were not the only source of money available, mortgages were not under water, and unemployment was not soaring. If we are ever to unwind this situation, these algorithms must be reset. Otherwise the banks will never lend again. The Middle Class needs a do-over, just like the banks got.
Yes sir, Obama stood up against the broad sweeping foreclosure legislation, and Bank of America seized the moment halting foreclosures nationwide. But we’re all holding our breath waiting for the other shoe to fall as even Progressive strategist Mike Lux gens up the netroots to re-engage with the President and Congress. It is inconceivable that people have not taken to streets in protest over their lost pensions, and the absence of any kind of interest bearing bank account — except on consumer credit cards. In fact, this week Robert Sheer wrote brilliantly about Obama’s “No Banker Left Behind” — while every normal person has been thrown under the bank bus. How did we allow the bail-out of every financial institution, while abandoning the common folk? Why are Democrats — whether conservative, moderate or netroots – not able to channel this collective anger, rage and disappointment other than to take aim at one another? Given the data, there is no way out for the once resilient Middle Class without a do-over. Instead of “No Banker Left Behind” let us heal the Middle Class by fixing the credit industry; restricting the health care industry now, not in four years; and making those banks lend the money we gave them and not hide behind FICO scores. All of the Democrats are writing, but no one is demanding change now. The Tea Party has successfully harnessed the anger and rage, but has no plan. Frankly, they are just another distraction taking our attention away from the gravity of the problems.
Mr. President, come back to us as Mike Lux laments. We need you. We, in the Middle Class, are living this nightmare everyday of our lives. Figure it out, and get the Middle Class out from under. The numbers do not lie. This is our emergency, our call to action, our 911. Friends and neighbors are collapsing from the stress when they can ill afford it. Unemployment is not going away. Consumer debt is skyrocketing. Mr. Obama, Americans are not being frivolous and irresponsible as Dr. Summers would like you to believe. They are boxed in with no escape hatch. Consider enacting a nationwide job core like the WPA, putting the banks on real notice, corralling those nasty health insurance folks, redoing the credit industry, and loosening up cash. No one is sleeping at night. People are nervous and cannot see a future.
Please, inspire us again, show emotion, get messy, and let the wrinkles show. Mr. President raise your voice in outrage. Give us voice. Come back to us. The time is now.
This was originally published on the Huffington Post earlier today.
See the pearltree below for the references for this article.
US Economy

Tea Party Contradictions

This post originally appeared at Speak Out California

Let’s take a look at yesterday’s tea parties.   I am hearing from people who attended tea parties around the country that the people who showed up were by and large good, honest Americans who are upset about the bailouts, deficits and general direction that things have been going for some time.  I say good for them for getting involved, speaking up and showing up.  We need more of that in this country, after so many decades of apathy.

There is a problem with the tea party events as presented, however, in that the sentiments and concerns of these regular people were largely hijacked by professional manipulators, who wanted to make it appear that the the people at the rallies support an anti-democracy, anti-government, pro-corporate and right wing agenda.  These were the FOX News and Rush Limbaugh audience, and the people from militias with racist signs, and paranoid people convinced that President Obama is a "fascist," etc. and who claim that the economic distress we are experiencing is somehow the fault of Obama’s and the Democrats’ policies even though he only took office less than three months ago

There are distressing photos of these event-hijackers, and there was troubling and violent rhetoric at many of the rallies. The Governor of Texas actually talked about his state seceding from the union — the very definition of hating America and the kind of talk once that led to a savage civil war. (FOX News called such talk "patriotic." One has to ask, "patriotic to what country?")

An obviously focus-group-tested phrase was repeated at the rallies: "Obama is going to raise taxes on our kids by borrowing for unnecessary government spending now." But what did the people at these rallies think us "liberals" have been saying all this time about the effect of all the Republican borrowing to pay for these huge tax cuts they gave to the rich and corporations, and to pay for the Iraq war and other military spending increases? This is the reason we have these huge deficits!

And, of course, no one ever says which spending is "unnecessary."  Do they mean unemployment checks? Bush made those necessary.  How about money to rebuild roads and bridges and schools? Bush made that necessary.  How about money to reduce our oil use? Bush and Cheney, both former oil company executives, made that necessary. How about money to continue funding the Iraq war? Bush made that necessary. The bailout money? To the extent that it was necessary (I don’t agree that it was) it certainly was not Obama who wrecked the economy.

Which spending in the stimulus plan, specifically, is "unnecessary," and which was made necessary by the Republicans who messed things up so badly?

Some contradictions from the rallies: 

  • The people at the rallies were presented as protesting tax increases, yet in the current Obama budget only tax cuts have been proposed. (There are hints that there will be a request for a small tax increase on the very wealthy after a few years.)
  • Many at the rallies were protesting against "government spending," but did not seem to understand where the government actually spends a huge portion of our budget, such as on military and huge subsidies for big oil, agriculture and other corporations (like Wall Street bailouts) — but instead were protesting against imagined spending like "welfare" and foreign aid, which add up to only a tiny fraction of the budget. 
  • Reagan’s and Bush’s tax cuts for the rich have created so much debt that we currently pay out over $500 billion to interest each year — paid to people who can afford to loan us trillions.  Now that is some serious government spending. 
  • Many rallies were rebranded by their corporate-funded organizers as "Fair Tax" rallies. But the so-called "Fair Tax" is really about cutting taxes on the rich and making up for it by raising taxes on everyone else. This is an example of corporate astroturf convincing people to support raising their own taxes or cutting their own benefits so that taxes on the wealthy and big corporations can be further reduced.  (You can’t cut taxes for that group without making up for it somewhere.)

This all brings to mind something that I have said about marketing: with good enough marketing you can convince people to kill themselves.  Think about cigarettes and the comet-suicide cult and you’ll understand what I mean.

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A Warning About The Tea Parties

This post originally appeared at Speak Out California
A number of people I have spoken with are planning to attend a “tea party” tomorrow, so I thought it might be a good idea to write about this. They are not what they claim to be. They are not “spontaneous” or “grassroots.” They are another corporate-funded campaign to trick people into supporting more cut taxes for the rich.
The idea is supposed to have started on February 19, when Rick Santelli of CNBC “spontaneously” complained about plans (click link for video) to help people avoid foreclosure, saying this is the government “subsidizing the loser’s mortgages.” Santelli called for organizing a “Chicago tea party” against helping people pay their mortgages. But investigators starting finding clues that the on-air rant was not spontaneous, and signs that the campaign was organized by the right-wing, corporate-funded Freedomworks . According to a March 2 New York Times story,

“Mr. Santelli’s televised commentary appeared spontaneous to viewers. However, the Internet domain name ChicagoTeaParty.com was registered in August 2008 — well before his commentary — but not used until afterwards.”

The events have been widely promoted by corporate-funded conservative PR professionals who specialize in “astroturf.” This is a term for the use of money to create an appearance of widespread “grassroots” support. Currently the corporate-funded conservative lobbying groups Freedomworks and Americans for Prosperity, are organizing the events and conservative media including talk radio and FOX News are widely promoting them. Support appears to be coming from Koch Industries, the largest privately-owned company in the country. According to the Think Progress blog post, Spontaneous Uprising? Corporate Lobbyists Helping To Orchestrate Radical Anti-Obama Tea Party Protests,

“This type of corporate ‘astroturfing‘ is nothing new to either organization. While working to promote Social Security privatization, Freedom Works was caught planting one of its operatives as a “single mom” to ask questions to President Bush in a town hall on the subject. Last year, the Wall Street Journal exposed Freedom Works for similarly building “amateur-looking” websites to promote the lobbying interests of Dick Armey …
Americans for Prosperity is run by Tim Phillips, [a] former partner in the lobbying firm Century Strategies. The group is funded by Koch family foundations — a family whose wealth is derived from the oil industry. Indeed Americans for Prosperity has coordinated pro-drilling ‘grassroots‘ events around the country.”

The “tea parties” are promoted as a “grassroots uprising” against “high taxes.” Tea stands for “Taxes Enough Already.” However, 95% of Americans will received a tax cut in the next year if the upcoming Obama budget passes. Only Americans with incomes above $250,000 will receive a small tax increase — and even then their taxes will be much lower than almost any time in the last 80 or so years. This increase on the top incomes will help pay for some of the Republican-caused economic damage as well as reduce the budget deficits that the country has faced ever since the same income group received tax cuts after George W. Bush was elected. (This is similar to the tax increase in first Clinton budget that led to the great economy of the 1990s and large budget surpluses.)
The other complaint from tea party organizers is that President Obama is “spending too much.” The increased spending in the stimulus package and upcoming budget funds education, unemployment checks, efforts to ward off foreclosures and other programs designed to help bring us out of the recession and provide jobs. These are programs that benefit regular people instead of big corporations and the rich.
So regular people who go to these corporate-organized tea parties are asking the government to undo their own tax cuts and reduce their own government services in order to keep taxes low for the very rich. I wonder if people have really thought this through?
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