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One thousand disgruntled-with-Obama Tea Partyers gathered in Akron last evening. Today, The Akron Beacon Journal gives that gathering front page status, dedicating quite a few column inches to reporting on the gathering. Fair enough. The event took place in downtown Akron.
At the Ohio.com link of the story there is a two minute Mike Cardew video of Akron Tea Party attendees being interviewed.
Amy Schwan is the organizer of the Akron Tea Party rally and appears first in the video. She explains, before the rally kicks off, that Matt Patrick would be the emcee of the event......yep, Matt Patrick. Patrick can be heard in the background saying.... "we're going to be talking about guns and the 2nd amendment."
Ms. Schwan goes on to explain that the Akron Partyers main goal is,...
"...to tell our government we want fiscal responsibility, lower taxes, and we want people to get back to personal responsibility. We don't need the government taking care of us."
The "fiscal responsibility" mention, is interesting. From 2001-2009, a Republican-led federal government doubled the national debt.....and yet, I don't remember any Akron Tea Party protests over "fiscal responsibility" during that time period. In January, 2009, that same Republican-led federal goverment handed over to the newly elected Democratic President, Barack Obama, a national financial situation that can only be described as dire.
Ten years of Big Bank deregulation and a conservative, corporate-friendly approach to all things took our economy to the brink of disaster in October 2008. Not only did the financial giants of Wall Street blow their own industry up with their unregulated greed.....but the repercussions led directly to auto industry woes, a collapsing of home values, as well as the 10% unemployment rate that American workers are still enjoying 1 1/2 years later.
Obama's stimulus plan....the most likely source of Ms. Schwan's "fiscal responsibility" worry...a plan to avert a deep national depression, has been widely accepted by both right and left economists as not only the correct thing to do under the circumstances....but as effective in helping prevent a furthering of the downward spiral.
That brings us to Ms. Schwan's second complaint that the Akron Tea Partyers had of their federal government...."lower taxes." In the very stimulus bill that Tea Partyers still characterize as an example of fiscal irresponsibility.....were.....tax cuts. Tax cuts for small business capital improvements and payroll tax cuts for 95% of American workers. Taxes, contrary to the Tea Partyer concerns, have not been raised by Obama or the Democratic Congress. That is a verifiable fact available to both Tea Partyers and non-Tea Partyers
The third concern Akron Tea Partyers have with their government, according to Party organizer Ms. Schwan, is "personal responsibility." Often, conservatives and Republicans throw out the "personal responsibility" phrase.....usually in the context of others getting stuff from the feds that they don't get. "Personal responsibility", historically, has been a slightly veiled code phrase meant to slam welfare recipients, federal housing participants, food stamp users, Medicaid enrollees, etc.
The thinking from conservatives has been that those whom government provides threshold services for are not taking "personal responsibility." Most conservative opponents of health care reform see ObamaCare as a giveaway, a redistribution if you will, of tax dollars to Americans who refuse to take "personal responsibility" for their own health care. The fact that health insurance in America is unaffordable doesn't enter the Tea Party equation.
But Ms. Schwan's....."we don't need the government taking care of us".......is an obvious crock. The schools our children attend, the roads we drive on, the police, paramedics, firefighters and soldiers who protect us, the national parks we visit, the libraries we frequent, the college loans our kids take out, the Medicare our seniors depend on......have all been provided by a federal government who is not "taking care of us"....but one which is responding to the Constitutional mandate over the general welfare of the people. It is , after all, called the United States of America, for a reason.
At the end of the Ohio.com two minute video a Tea Party protest attendee by the name of Bill Marshall explains,.....
"I just feel that this country is headed in the wrong direction. They've taken away the freedoms that so many people have fought and died for. It's becoming more of a stronger government, leading to the socialist thing. It scares me. Taking over of private industry, taking over the health care, taking over a lot of things we haven't even heard about that they haven't accomplished yet, like cap and trade. And also leaving the idea that the American public can't do things for itself....scares me, scares me bad."
Bill Marshall appears to be over the age of retirement.....and so I am assuming that he is taking advantage of both Social Security and the government-run health care program, Medicare. I could be mistaken, but I doubt it.
Marshall's, "They've taken away the freedoms that so many people have fought and died for", comment is pure Glenn Beck-Sean Hannity nonsense. What freedoms have been taken away since Obama was inaugurated?
It is also completely untrue that the federal government has taken "over the health care" in it's recent reform bill. Obama purposely avoided single payer...or even allowing a public government option...in health care reform, instead deciding to reward capitalistic, entirely-for-profit, Big Insurance and Big Pharma.
Akron Tea Partyers, and their fellow Partyers nationally, have every right to gather and protest whatever it is that they want to protest. However, yesterday's Akron Party once again demonstrated that this "grassroots" protest is mostly mistaken on the facts and incoherent on their message.