Democrats Should Be Joining the Tea Parties

obama-taxes1

Democrats are responding to the growing nationwide phenomena of anti-tax “tea parties” protests by mocking them and by pointing out that they are prompted and run by right-wing organizations.

Neither response is a winning political strategy.

It is pure political stupidity — and bad economic policy — for Democrats to treat the tax protests with derision or contempt.

Rather than mocking the aims of the tea parties, Democrats should follow the lead of presidential candidate Barack Obama, who promised to “provide a tax cut for working families” and “restore fairness to the tax code and provide 95 percent of working Americans the tax relief they need.”

Obama also promised to provide tax relief for small businesses and startups by  eliminating “all capital gains taxes on startup and small businesses to encourage innovation and job creation.”

What Obama recognized – and Democrats already seem to have forgotten – is that working families are in fact being over-taxed while the super rich have gotten a free ride – and that voters will cast their ballots for the party and the candidates who they believe will create a fairer tax code and reduce their tax burden.

And while it is certainly legitimate to point out that the anti-tax tea parties are being manipulated and guided by right-wing groups and talk-show hosts whose agendas are not the same as working and middle class voters, this point is devoid of political impact unless it is accompanied by a commitment to do a better job than these groups of protecting working class and middle class economic interests.

For too long, Democrats – especially in California – have allowed Republicans to dominate and set the terms of the tax debate.

As a result, Democrats have allowed Republicans to paint them as the party of higher taxes – and have allowed the super rich to pretend to defend the economic interests of working families and the middle class while in fact shifting the costs of government to those who are least able to afford it.

Instead of responding to the tax protests with mockery and contempt, Democrats need to insist on talking about the kinds of taxes that the government imposes and who pays them.

We should insist that all taxes be progressive and focused on overturning the Republican’s outrageous favoritism of the super rich.

Especially in the midst of the current recession, we should oppose any increases whatsoever in regressive taxes – such as the sales tax, the automobile tax, and the gasoline tax – that disproportionately hit working and middle class families, unless and until the state and federal tax code is revised to require that the super rich pay their fair share.

Of course these tax protest “tea parties” are a Republican sham — the Republican anti-tax activists not interested in reducing the tax burden on the middle class and working families, but in keeping the Bush tax breaks for the rich — but that does not mean that the underlying middle class protest — even rage — at their tax burden should be ridiculed. On the contrary, it means that the Democrats should insist on seizing the debate and turning it against the Republicans — as Obama did.

Democrats can win the tax debate – if they take the tax protest “tea parties” seriously.

Related posts:

Why I Love Conservative Talk Radio’s John and Ken Show

The Charge of the Democrat Light Brigade: California Democrats Caught in Republican Tax Trap

Why the Republican Anti-Tax Movement Doesn’t Care About the Taxes that YOU Pay

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3 responses to “Democrats Should Be Joining the Tea Parties

  1. mike00000000001

    taxes are forced payment, so really having a smaller tax for everyone is better because its kind of scarry to give a system capable of becoming currupt the power to force money out of your hands. Plus we are definitely being over taxed. I mean, taxes don’t stop greed. There are selfish poor people and selfish rich people. And there are selfish governments to. You don’t really end greed with taxes. So if thats what you want to do you woln’t succed.

  2. To call any of these protests “tea parties” isn’t consistent with the history of the Boston Tea Party. Every protester on the street tomorrow will have 3 federal representatives in Congress. It certainly defies the old slogan of “No taxation without representation.”

    I don’t really understand why your headline encourages democrats to join these parties though. All of their twelve “Solutions” really just help widen the gap between the rich and the poor. But you seem to already know that.

    Another tax that disproportionately hurts low-income families is the cigarette tax. Many environmentalists want to institute a coal tax in order to make renewable energy cheaper. That would also hurt the working class most. There are going to have to be some hard decisions when it comes to taxing and the environment. If you tax coal, we may move on to better sources. If you don’t, you help working families with their energy bills.

  3. Based on some comments I’ve received, I think I need to post a clarification.

    I do not think that Democrats should join in the current astroturfed faux tax revolt “tea parties” sponsored by Fox News, Newt Gingrich, Dick Armey, and fat cat corporate right-wingers, and which are really just anti-Obama rallies.

    I do think that Democrats need to take the underlying real revolt against excessive and unfair taxes seriously.

    As I said in the post, I think that Democrats ought to seize the tax debate by (1) insisting that all taxes be progressive and focused on overturning the Republican’s outrageous favoritism of the super rich; and (2) opposing any increases whatsoever in regressive taxes – such as the sales tax, the automobile tax, and the gasoline tax – that disproportionately hit working and middle class families, unless and until the state and federal tax code is revised to require that the super rich pay their fair share.

    The modern tax revolt was originally a progressive movement — lead by Democrats — that opposed a tax system that disproportionately burdened working people and people with fixed incomes.

    The Republicans have hijacked this movement (notably with California’s Prop 13) and turned it into a “revolt” fueled by racism and resentment and that benefits only the very rich.

    As Obama showed in the presidential election, it is possible — and it is time — to take the tax revolt back and refocus it to insist that all taxation be fair and progressive.

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