Dissent is not unhealthy, it’s patrioticby Jason Pye
A top adviser to President Barack Obama takes a dim view of last week’s anti-tax “tea parties,” promoted by organizers in the spirit of the Boston Tea Party.
“The thing that bewilders me is this president just cut taxes for 95 percent of the American people. So I think the tea bags should be directed elsewhere because he certainly understands the burden that people face,” David Axelrod said Sunday.
The rallies coincided with the deadline to file income taxes, and gave people a chance also to voice frustrations about government spending and corporate bailouts.
Axelrod was asked on CBS’ “Face the Nation” for his opinion on what the show’s host described as “this spreading and very public disaffection with not only the government, but especially the Obama administration.”
Axelrod replied: “I think any time that you have severe economic conditions, there is always an element of disaffection that can mutate into something that’s unhealthy.”
“Unhealthy?” the moderator repeated.
“This is a country where we value our liberties and our ability to express ourselves. And so far these are expressions,” Axelrod answered.
These were peaceful protests were people displayed frustration, regardless of who co-opted or organized them, hundreds of thousands of people took time out of their day to express themselves. There is nothing unhealthy about that.
On a separate point. These “tax cuts” aren’t really tax cuts. It’s a direct spending program, according to the Congressional Budget Office (via FactCheck.org). A tax cut is a reduction in tax rates, not a check or tax credit.
Also, 95 percent of taxpayers did not get a “tax cut,” despite the talking points from MSNBC or CNN. The Tax Policy Center (again, via FactCheck.org) shows that 75 percent of taxpayers are affected. The average “tax cut” is $13 a week, which is marginal and not likely to help anyone once you factor in the rising cost of living, the increase in gas prices and rising property taxes.
You have to take the deficit into account, which will be a record this year at $1.8 trillion. You’re not cutting taxes unless you are cutting spending as well. It’s one of the great myths of the Bush Administration. Yes, he cut the tax rate, but he and his Republican cohorts effectively raised taxes on the next generation by spending liken drunken sailors.
Obama is only worsening an already dire situation. It’s not a problem we can just tax our way out of either, because you put economic prosperity at risk whenever you raise taxes. So tough choices will need to be made, but Obama isn’t going to make them. He’ll do what is politically popular, damn the future, and use it in his re-election campaign.