26 May 2009

Samwick’s Juvenile Argument Against the Tea Parties

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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?

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