Wed, 15 Apr 2009 21:13:21 +0000 – By Peter RoffFellow, Liberty Institute/Former Senior Political Editor, United Press International
The attention being given the national tea party movement is nothing short of remarkable. Organized by a few people using new social media tools like Twitter and Facebook, it has blossomed into a genuine social movement composed of Republicans, Libertarians, Independents and even a few Democrats, all of whom feel as though they are being taken for granted by their elected leaders in Washington.
And it's no wonder. From their point of view the politicians in Congress are passing out money, our money, to people who don't deserve while conveniently ignoring the role that government played in creating the housing bubble that led to the current economic crisis.
The federal government's role in bringing the current crisis into our living rooms has been poorly documented by the major media. For all the talk of how the Federal Reserve kept interest rates low, there has been little discussion of how a little-known fellow named Martin Eakes partnered with the Ford Foundation in a scheme to generate home loans for people who could not really afford them, loans made by major financial institutions that were then, in essence, laundered through Eakes' Self-Help Credit Union so that, under the expansion of the Community Reinvestment Act that occurred under the Clinton Administration, they could be purchased and securitized by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.
Hopefully, the thousands of taxpayers that are taking to the streets today as part of the National Tax Day Tea Party can convince Congress that the roots of the financial crisis should be explored in greater detail. But that is only the beginning.
The federal government's reaction to the crisis has only made thinks worse. In an orgy of taxing, spending and borrowing, the Obama administration has committed the nation to mountains of debt as far as the eye can see that make the Reagan deficits pale in comparison. And, with the Bush tax cuts set to expire after, there is no end -- and no relief in sight.
This is the point that taxpayers are making today. Never mind that The New York Times helpfully pointed out Tuesday in a blog headline that most Americans were just fine with the taxes they pay. Of course, if you read the fine print you learn that the so-called rich, who are the ones who actually pay taxes, feel very strongly that they are overtaxed while the folks on whom the tax burden falls either lightly or not at all believe that taxes are fine just the way they are. What the tea party demonstrators are saying is that they are the folks in the middle who are getting squeezed, and by government most of all.
That they would come out for a social protest, something normally thought of as the province of the American Left, is both a sign of hope for the American middle-class and a giant warning to the liberal establishment. In solidarity the middle-class will find relief, but it is relief that will only come at the expense of the taxing and spending and redistributing that the liberals must have to purchase and maintain their political power. Bringing the ordinary American into the streets is a mission accomplished for those who have labored long and hard to explain the realities of expansionist government to the people.
The people who are demonstrating on April 15 represent the heart and soul of America. And, since their political opponents cannot successfully argue that they are wrong to feel the way they do, they must be discredited. Liberals commentators and blogs are full of rumors and innuendo that the Tea Party demonstrations are the product of corporate-funded Washington insiders or that they are tied to fringe political groups like the white supremacists. A number of organizations and liberal media outlets have promised to infiltrate the demonstrations in search of the most profane, the most outrageous, the most nonsensical arguments they can find in order to discredit an entire movement.
It won't work -- and it won't work because the poor, overtaxed Americans who are coming out for tea parties on Wednesday represent the backbone of this great nation. They can be bent, but they cannot be broken. They are the heirs to what has become known as "The Greatest Generation" -- but this time the country they are fighting to save is their own.
Peter Roff, a former senior writer at United Press International, is a senior fellow at Frontiers of Freedom, an organization that advocates for educational freedom and reform.