Tag Archives: obama

Guest Post: I Don’t Get the Tea Parties!

(Here’s a Guest Post from my good friend, Zach. Originally published on his blog, so you’ll have to go there to comment and add your thoughts)

I honestly do not understand this Tea Party business going on around the country lately.

There seem to be a lot of Republicans get very excited about joining in on these Tea Parties, but I can’t figure out what exactly they are protesting.

The original Tea Party, the Boston Tea Party, was all about Taxation Without Representation. England was imposing a tea tax on the colonists in order to increase their revenues from the East India Company. The colonists resented this taxation because they believed they had the right to only be taxed by their own elected officials, hence the Boston Tea Party, where in protest they dumped three ships’ worth of tea into the Boston Harbor.

So fast-forward to today. These groups have latched onto this name Tea Party, I guess recalling this great protest in our American history, but I fail to see the connection.

Are they protesting the fact that they are being taxed without representation?

No, because they aren’t. We have a democracy, and we had an election, and our elected officials are in charge of our taxes.

So are they protesting because our taxes are too much?

No, they shouldn’t be at least, because our taxes just went down! Starting April 15, 2009, President Obama’s tax cut for 95% of Americans just started taking effect. Almost everyone that’s protesting just got their taxes decreased by President Obama. Check your pay check, I bet yours went up too! 95% of Americans just got a tax cut, it’s the biggest tax cut in American history! Why would they be protesting about taxes being so high now when their taxes are less than they were during Bush’s presidency? Why weren’t they holding Tea Parties when Bush was president?

So are they protesting because taxes are being raised for those who make more than $200,000 a year?

I don’t know why there would be this much outrage over this. The taxes of the really wealthy are being raised so that practically every other American can get some tax relief! And how much is it getting raised? 3%. Yeah, that’s right, just 3%! The rich, instead of being taxed 36%, are going to be taxed 39%. 3% more. And not even yet…this won’t even take effect for another couple years. And it wasn’t really even something Obama did, this was when the tax break for the wealthy Bush passed was set to expire. It was going to revert back to 39% either way, unless the new president renewed it. I’ve heard a lot of people claim that this is socialist! Taxing the rich more! Well, all it does is bring the tax rate back to what it was when Clinton was president. We weren’t a socialist country then, why are people all the sudden saying this is going to make us socialist? It’s just back to the way we were in the 90’s! Remember the booming economy back in the ‘90’s, by the way?  Also, during Reagan’s presidency, the champion of conservatives, the tax rate for the wealthy was even higher than this!  Is Reagan a socialist?  (No, by the way, neither of them are).

So are they protesting because President Obama’s budget proposal is a record 3.6 trillion dollars over the next 10 years?

Again, why now? Why weren’t the Republicans holding Tea Parties when Bush proposed his 3.1 trillion dollar budget? Is 3.1 trillion acceptable and 3.6 going to burn American down? And besides, Bush did not include Iraq spending on his budget. He’s allowed to keep that number separate and secret for national security reasons. So although we were spending that money, it wasn’t included in his budget. Obama’s budget decided to disclose and include Iraq spending. So Obama’s 3.6 trillion dollar budget includes Iraq spending, and Bush’s 3.1 trillion dollar budget does not include Iraq spending…so the difference between them isn’t much, if anything. Why protest now?

Are they protesting because Obama’s spending is pushing our National debt higher and higher?

They can’t be, because if so, where were the protests before? During Bush’s presidency we went from a budget surplus to double the national debt in 8 years. There weren’t any tea party protests then. We spent a trillion dollars in the war in Iraq, and these Tea Partiers didn’t protest.

So are they protesting Obama’s stimulus bill or the bailouts of the banks?

If so, almost every conservative and liberal economist alike disagrees with them. Almost every economist agrees that capital needs to be injected into the economy in order to avoid exponential collapse, and also that the major banks have become too big to fail. If we let the banks go down, our economy goes down with it for many years to come. And besides, our former President was bailing the banks out as well, where were the protests then from Republicans?

Are they protesting because they believe Obama is walking all over the constitution?

This one makes the least sense to me. These people were overwhelmingly in support of our last president who authorized warrantless wiretaps and the suspension of habeas corpus, both in direct contradiction to our Constitution. What has Obama done to violate the constitution?

I really believe at this point that the only reason for these Tea Party protests is a simple one: they do not like Barack Obama, and they will protest anything he does. Regardless of what policies he supports or actions he takes, they will continue to protest, because they have made up their minds that they do not like him. I don’t know what happened to all the people that told liberals during Bush’s presidency that it’s wrong to criticize your president during war times and that it was unpatriotic to be so against the president. That’s what these conservatives are doing now.

There’s a survey I would like to see done, and I think the results would be very telling. Everyone would be asked their political affiliation. One half would be asked what they thought of President Obama’s support for the NEC resolution, if they agree with his support for it, disagree, or are neutral. The other half would be asked what they thought of President Bush’s (or McCain’s) support for the NEC resolution. No one would be told that there is in fact no such thing as “the NEC resolution.” I believe that you would find that many conservatives asked the first question would heartily disapprove of Obama’s support of this fake resolution, and conservatives asked the second question would heartily approve of Bush’s (or McCain’s) support of it.

They just don’t like Obama, that’s what it all comes down to.

Add Your Comments at Zach’s Site

Government Employees Should Be Stipend-Receiving Civic Servants

mrpresidentI’ve been impressed by a number of initial moves by Obama as he’s assumed the presidency. One of them was a pay freeze. There’s a nice video where he addresses that and a few other executive orders, but I was able to pull this quote from the memorandum on Whitehouse.gov:

Many have accepted the call to serve in Government and to assist me in restoring a sound economy and in improving the lives of average Americans. In this challenging economic period, it is only appropriate that senior officials on the White House staff forgo pay increases until further notice.

Accordingly, as a signal of our shared commitment to restoring the country’s economic vitality and because of the serious economic conditions we are facing, I intend to freeze the salaries of senior members of the White House staff, to the extent permitted by law. I direct you to report back to me within 30 days with recommendations for actions to implement this freeze.

The memorandum was directed to the Assistant to the President, but since it was out there on the interwebs and he does ask for a “report back” with recommendations, I figure it’s my duty to give him a response as well.

In 2003-2004, right after I was married, my wife and I went to serve for one year with AmeriCorps in Atlanta Georgia. AmeriCorps is our government funded Civic Service program encouraging volunteer civic service (like the PeaceCorps). It’s a one year program where you serve full-time, usually with a government program (school, park district, etc) or a non-profit (for me, Hands On Atlanta). For your commitment you receive a living stipend, which is enough to provide you with adequate housing and transportation cost in your area, you receive an education reward of about $4500, and you are eligible for food stamps. Most volunteers are overworked and clearly underpaid (figure probably less then minimum wage). It’s a commitment and sacrifice to choose to participate in this program (but, don’t ask me, ask Dr. Jackson, whom I worked with, a phd educated woman with a daughter and grand daughter still under her roof).

I give you that background as my research for what I think a ‘freeze’ should look like for the White House and the rest of your government leaders. I don’t mean this as a criticism of their work, rather, I believe if politicians are going to true servants of the people, then we need to take away some of the other incentives (namely: money).  So, here’s my brief letter to Obama.

Mr. President,

I believe, effective immediately, all members of government should cease to receive salaries and instead receive living stipends based on federally recognized ‘living-wage’ standards for the area in which they serve (i.e. Washington D.C. or Minneapolis, MN). This stipend can take into account family size and other household incomes, but should remain reasonably based on data. The stipend need not account for food costs, as explained in the following paragraph.

All members of government, will be eligible and enrolled in the EBT-Foodstamps program in their state. Again, this would account for family size, but should follow the same paramaters as all other citizens of their state. For example, regardless of the government employees income, if the combined household income is greater then the qualifying rate, they need not be eligible since according to state standards they can afford to cover their food cost out of their own pocket.

Finally, similar to incentives in AmeriCorps and Teach For America, I think government members should receive some sort of education incentive. Since many in our upper levels of government have already pursued and exhausted their education advancement, they should have the option to use their education incentive for their children. This would help balance out some of the sacrifice of the living stipend rather than a salary.

Pay freezes on already overblown salaries is a small step to walking in step with the American people. If this administration is truly committed to “the call to serve” then I think this pay change would be a true step toward civic servitude.


Ariah Fine

Active Citizen

Wishing I Could Say Something Brilliant Right Now

This isn’t going to be much of a post, mostly rambling. Everyone’s reflecting on the Election and I’ve really been trying to just take it all in. It’s been a roller coaster of emotion lately. Here’s a snippet.

Excitement. Going to the polls and joining hundreds of your neighbors to participate in the democratic process. Kids where shouting from the school buses that passed by. We were all excited (those I knew were voting for Obama, others I knew were voting for McCain, others casting blank ballots). Many hoping for their candidate to be victorious, but more then that there was just a real sense of purpose and excitement that we were doing something important.

Nervousness. Throughout the day about the votes I’d casts, the decisions I was now complicit in. Later nervous about the safety of the president elect.

Joy. Around ten, after we heard the report on the television, you could hear horns honking in the street, kids running around shouting. You could feel it in the air in our neighborhood. The significance of this historic moment.

Sadness. Largely due to facebook, I’ve witness the extreme negativity expressed by people I know and respect about the election results. The most troubling are those I call fellow followers of Christ. (Update: My sister pointed out this came across wrong, here’s a further explanation) I deeply respect people on both sides of the election results. My sadness is regarding the doom and gloom response that the election is ushering in the death of America, bringing on communism, destroying Israel, that the election was stolen, and that those who applaud the victory do not care about human life. (all of that summed up in people’s facebook statuses). I’m not trying to censor or discourage people’s opinions, it just makes me sad that that is the first and primary response from so many people I know.

Commitment. I’m committed to moving on. Moving past this political discourse and toward a dialog and commitment to action to address the issues that have been so passionately on the minds of those with whom I share my faith. I pray we can find common ground and worked toward living out the unified love of Christ in this broken world.

[photo credit]