We all may lose if the Tea Party wins

We don’t hear much about the Mille Lacs Tea Party anymore. The national Tea Party, which arose a decade after our local movement, took the name in a slightly different direction.

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Both groups, like the original Tea Party, had anti-tax messages, but the local one was more true to the original Boston Tea Party: “no taxation without representation.”
Our local Tea Party faded from relevance because the fears they tried to arouse turned out to be unfounded — namely, that the Mille Lacs Band wanted to tax and regulate non-Indians, who aren’t represented in tribal government.
There was little interest among Band leaders in taxing or regulating non-Indians, in large part because they knew the Supreme Court had already weighed in on the matter. Eventually, the facts came to light, and the Mille Lacs Tea Party began to die.
The national Tea Party deserves a similar fate because it started on the same false road. Unfortunately, they may be getting stronger.
There’s a billboard advertising a right-wing talk radio station in St. Cloud: “Simple Truths, Obvious Conclusions,” it states.
That pretty much sums up the problem with our politics, here in Minnesota and across the nation.
Simple “truths” are usually false in a complex society. “Obvious conclusions” are often wrong because the real facts are hidden from view by partisan propaganda and corporate spin.
Here’s the not-so-simple truth and not-so-obvious conclusion: The Tea Party was the creation of extremist conservatives who wanted to prevent higher taxes on the rich. The mostly poor, white, rank-and-file Tea Party members were their pawns.
The shutdown and debt ceiling crisis occurred for one reason: to protect the top 2 percent from paying slightly more in taxes. That’s the simple truth. As for the obvious conclusion: Tax the rich.
Cutting spending is great — in moderation. Cut government too much and you’re cutting jobs and destroying the spending power of huge numbers of Americans. Recession, meet Depression.
That’s where we might be headed now that the Tea Party won the day. Unfortunately, they’ll say the double-dip recession happened because we didn’t cut enough, not because we cut too much.
The Tea Party’s funders and spin doctors have convinced the sheep that small tax increases for the mega-rich would hurt the economy. Actually, equivalent cuts in spending do far more damage.
Look at recent history. The economy was stronger when we had higher taxes for the rich under Clinton. It began tanking as soon as Bush (and in Minnesota, Pawlenty) lowered taxes for the wealthy. Clinton also shrank the government and the deficit.
Go back to the 1950s and ‘60s and it’s the same simple truth: The economy thrives under progressive taxation, when those who benefit the most from society pay the most to keep it functioning.
The “trickle down” theory of Reaganomics is bogus. If you give the rich more money, they put it in the bank. It never finds the rest of us.
Conversely, if you tax them a little more, it doesn’t hurt us. And when those taxes help the poor and middle class to earn a living wage, they spend money and create businesses, and growth follows.
“Trickle down” sounds like common sense — a simple truth — but common sense has always been a thorn in America’s side. Just as Tom Paine’s common sense was uncommon in his day, what passes for common sense today is common nonsense.
Hopefully the Tea Party will figure that out.

Brett Larson is the editor of the Messenger.

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