Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Samwick's Juvenile Argument Against the Tea Parties

Editor's Note: In a recent post I summoned the Thundercats and they responded as usual. This post relies on their sleuthing. I'd also like to thank YouTube.--RPM

Andrew Samwick (HT2 Brad DeLong) couldn't take it anymore when the Cato Institute's David Boaz referred to this year's "Tea Parties" as the "revival of a freedom movement." Writes Samwick:
At moments like this, we go back to Milton Friedman's adage, "To spend is to tax." I cannot really come up with a better word than juvenile for the tea parties -- don't protest the taxes unless you can identify the specific cuts in expenditures that you would make to bring the budget into balance. If you think taxes are bad, then you should think deficits are worse, because they raise the taxes of people who were not represented in the decisions to spend the money.

That's the real lesson from the Revolutionary War period that should be drawn. And the danger for the Libertarians is that if they don't put the reduction in expenditures ahead of the reduction in taxes on their agenda, they are destined for another abusive relationship down the road.

Before I proceed to annihilate Samwick, let me offer one caveat: I agree that there probably wouldn't have been these protests had McCain won. It's not because the average Tea Party protester is really a closet racist, a la Janeane Garafola, but rather that I think right-wing radio, Fox News, etc. might not have stoked the flames if their guy won. But I could be wrong.

In any event, what is unambiguous is that the Tea Party-goers were protesting spending. And we don't need to dig up obscure footage from a rally in Montana to make the point; we need only examine the most infamous of all reporting on that day (albeit not the most famous portion). Start the below at 2:30, and just give it 60 seconds. Does that lady sound like a Republican ideologue who loves big spending and low marginal tax rates?

Bob Roddis captured the below stills from other interviews that this same notorious CNN reporter conducted; check out the signs. (And note that the guy who was the subject of her most famous interview has a sign behind him too, which seems just as cognizant of the connection between current spending and future tax burdens on current non-voters.)

Beyond the above evidence, is the simple fact that the original motivation for the Tea Parties was Rick Santelli's rant. And remember, that rant had nothing to do with marginal tax rates, it had to do with the government spending money bailing out people who were behind on their mortgages.

What do you think, Mr. Samwick? Do you have something you'd like to say to the rest of the class?

I posted this on Friday after reading your first post.

We have a difference of opinion about how much the recent tea party movement is a protest of
1) high taxes (divorced from any notion of how much is being spent), 2) the high taxes that will ensue from the recent stimulus and bailout plans, or 3) the high taxes that will result from decades of deficits, new entitlement programs, and the recent barrage of stimulus and bailouts.

I think protesting #1 by itself is juvenile. I think protesting #2 by itself is valid but comes a little late to the scene. I want to see a new political movement emerge out of protesting #3.

In my original post, I was commenting on remarks by Boaz that these protests were the revival of a freedom movement. I hope he's right, but I think that happens only if most of the protesters were protesting #3 rather than #1 or even #2. We'll see what happens next -- do Republicans hijack the movement as if it were all #1, or do Republicans reform their ways and campaign on a platform that leads with the spending cuts?

Thanks for posting the video -- it was a great example of how biased an organization CNN is and how low some reporters will stoop.
Well dang, I must not have "annihilated" you after all if you're able to post a comment! You must have mutant powers.

I didn't attend any of the events, but my view was that they were a mix of #2 and #3. I think there were a lot of Ron Paul types there, who would definitely be #3, like "End the war and bring down the deficit."
"... agree that there probably wouldn't have been these protests had McCain won."

Question #1: Would McCain have quadrupled the deficit?

Question #2: Would McCain have promoted a "stimulus" bill that was actually a wealth redistribution bill?

If the answer to those two questions was "Yes", I would have been on the scene protesting.

It is MOST definitely about the SPENDING.

And is Samwick has an idea how the hell we can field a third party that can brake the stanglehold of the Dempublicans, let's hear it. Otherwise, shut up about "juvenile protests."
"There's no need to be antagonistic", yet she started the interview as trying to make that woman look as if Obama was the "antichrist".

This is sickening. Reminds me of a little passage in Atlas Shrugged:

"(...) he had come upon the despoiler, expecting to find a giant -- and had found a rat eager to scurry for cover at the first sound of a human step."
Where were these protesters when Bush started running the biggest deficit in recent history? When he expanded the medical benefits? As much as I agree with the arguments used by the protesters, I do also agree that it is motivated largely by a personal dislike for Obama. The Tea Parties are largely as hypocritical as those who used to protest George Bush's foreign policies and human right abuses, and now cannot be found anywhere protesting the same things done by Obama.

The plague on both your houses.
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