Tag Archives: anti-tax movement

Is Sarah Palin Coming to Your Neighborhood? (California, Here She Comes!)

palin.terminator1.If I’m correct that Sarah Palin resigned as Alaska governor in order to lead a right wing movement that is ostensibly independent of the major political parties, then the next question is: where will she establish her new home and base of operations?

The Northeast is too liberal, the South is too connected to racial politics (and there’s too much competition for conservative leadership and not enough big money), Washington, D.C., is too much of an enemy camp, and the Midwest doesn’t have enough access to the media.

Texas is certainly a possibility, but I don’t think she’ll want to compete for power with the Bush clan.

Florida also is a possibility, but I don’t think she’ll want to compete for conservatives with both Jeb Bush and Charlie Crist.

Utah is solidly Mitt Romney and Mormon territory, and Arizona belongs to former running mate (and now political rival) John McCain.

And while Idaho might have the most ideologically receptive population, it is so far off the media radar that she might as well stay in Alaska.

That leaves California.

Specifically, Southern California.

And more specifically, Orange County.

Orange County is rich, conservative, and close to Los Angeles’ enormous media network.

And California has no nationally known conservative political figure (Arnold doesn’t count) to offer her any real competition.

In fact, the California Republican Party is so fractured because of the budget battle and the hang-them-all ideology of its tea party militants that the Republican establishment wouldn’t be able to offer any real competition to Palin’s brand of radical right-wing conservatism.

It might be very bad news for more moderate Republicans like Meg Whitman and for the statewide chances of the Republican Party, but you can bet that John and Ken would welcome her with open arms (and air waves).

Are you ready for the new Terminator?

California, here she comes!

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

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

I listened recently to Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, on the Los Angeles NPR radio program “Air Talk with Larry Mantle.”

jarvisThe specific topic was the tax increase ballot measures, such as Proposition 1A, that were part of last month’s budget deal and are coming before California’s voters in a special election on May 19.

But Coupal wanted to talk about California’s taxes in general, and he made the claim that California’s taxes are the highest in the nation.

Wait a minute, I thought.

If Coupal is correct about Californians being so outrageously overtaxed — more than 30 years after the passage of Prop 13 – isn’t he admitting that both the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and its primary accomplishment – Prop 13 – have been dismal failures?

In fact, neither Coupal nor the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association really care about the amount of taxes that most Californians pay.

What they care about is the kind of taxes and who pays them.

And that’s far from the same thing as caring about taxes in general, or the taxes paid by the average Californian.

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, and Prop 13, was initially a project of Los Angeles’ biggest apartment landlords.  Jarvis himself was a lobbyist for the Los Angeles Apartment Owners Association – initially concentrating his efforts in attempting to destroy rent control — and ran the campaign for Prop 13 from the Apartment Owners Association’s office.

The goal of Jarvis and his allies was not primarily to limit the taxes paid by California’s homeowners – at least not those who actually live in the houses that they own – or to limit the taxes paid by middle class Californians.

Instead, the goal of Jarvis, the anti-tax Republicans – and of Prop 13 – was to limit the taxes paid by the largest and richest commercial landowners and landlords.

By that measure – and only by that measure — his work and the work of his successors such Jon Coupal — has been a tremendous success.

Of course, as a direct result of Prop 13’s cap on business and commercial property taxes – and its equal treatment of all property taxes regardless of the kind of property owned – the rest of our taxes have increased.

In particular, Californians have been pummeled by increasing regressive taxes, such as the sales tax, the gasoline tax, and the vehicle registration tax.

But the Republican anti-tax movement doesn’t care – and has never cared — about those kinds of taxes.

And by talking about taxes as though all taxes were the same and applied equally to everyone, the Republican anti-tax movement continues to protect the giant landlords whose taxes they’ve keep down and to bamboozle the middle class voters whose taxes continue to rise.

The next time you hear one of the anti-tax Republicans – or an avid John and Ken Show listener — strike a phony populist pose as they complain about California’s high taxes, ask them this:

How have the Republican anti-tax crusaders  limited taxes on the middle class or the average Californian?

Why do they make no distinction between taxes on owner-occupied property and taxes on business, commercial and landlord property?

Why do they insist on making no distinction between progressive taxes – which require the richest Californians to pay more – and regressive taxes – which require us all to pay the same?

When you don’t get an answer to these questions, ask yourself this one:

How stupid do they think we are?

Based on their success in protecting the landlords and the rich by foisting California’s tax burden on the middle class, I’d say they have good reasons to think we’re pretty damn stupid.