The Misinformed Tea Party Movement – Bruce Bartlett

"Tuesday's Tea Party crowd, however, thought that federal taxes were almost three times as high as they actually are. The average response was 42% of GDP and the median 40%. The highest figure recorded in all of American history was half those figures: 20.9% at the peak of World War II in 1944.

To follow up, Tea Partyers were asked how much they think a typical family making $50,000 per year pays in federal income taxes. The average response was $12,710, the median $10,000. In percentage terms this means a tax burden of between 20% and 25% of income."  Bartlett


The Republican Party should consider what it is doing in inciting the hostility of the ignorant.  Not only are many of the "tea party" people uninformed but they are also all too often bigoted against people unlike themselves.

Representative Frank of Massachusetts who is openly homosexual was jeered over the weekend with cries of f—-t and c——–r on the grounds of the US capitol.  John Lewis, Democrat of Georgia had n—-r yelled at him.

Is this really what the Republicans want to encourage?  pl

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35 Responses to The Misinformed Tea Party Movement – Bruce Bartlett

  1. lina says:

    Sometimes you’ve just got to go with what you’ve got. An angry base is all they’ve got. Their track record of recent memory is strewn with unwinnable wars and financial collapse, so they can’t point to that. They have to rely on propaganda and rabble rousing. Moderate, centrist Republicans are almost extinct. Those people are now found in the conservative wing of the Democratic Party.

  2. 505th PIR says:

    Ballots do not have an ignorance quotient printed on them. A vote is a vote and the “ignorance bloc” of voters is a reliable and when properly groomed by demegogues, timely group.
    The ever more creepy, right wing of the Republican party doesn’t have to use outright slurs/bigotted language. It merely has to not comment right away or keep a comfortable yet very manageable distance from the folks in the photograph you have posted on this subject.
    Though an Independent, I say hurray for the Democrats for doing what they should have done 10 months ago. This may be a phyrric victory and it may squeak by without being one. Time will tell.

  3. Paul says:

    Teabaggers are not interested in facts about their government, but they are incensed that a black guy sits in the White House. Their reaction is purely visceral; no intellect here. As is their wont, the Republican leadership thought the Teabaggers would carry their water since the party is void of ideas. Racism is alive and well in the U.S. of A.

  4. Just lecturing this morning on the rise of extremist parties and movements in Italy and Germany post WWI…

  5. walrus says:

    My conspiratorial mind suggests that the Republicans are already focussing on the 2012 Presidential election.
    The financial crisis is far from over, and if Americas Triple A rating is threatened as it already is, then Tax increases and spending cuts are going to cause severe distress to the middle class.
    What concerns me is that Republicans may portray Obama as “Weak” citing the Tea partiers and perhaps new forms of civil disobedience and protest as evidence. An authoritarian Republican candidate, perhaps a former military man, then wins the election.

  6. greg0 says:

    There is a study recently published by Kanazawa that says liberals are smarter.
    While the Tea Party is at least convinced it can make a difference, they don’t seem disposed to influence others in a positive manner. Have they never heard of Dale Carnegie?
    The real problems for America are militarism and the threat of dictatorship, not Obama and taxes.

  7. Mike Martin, Yorktown, VA says:

    After a disinformation campaign (“Death Panels”) that would have delighted Herr Dr Goebbels, I’m remembering Goering’s quote: “Naturally, the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship. …voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.”
    Well, Fox News tried hard.

  8. John Minnerath says:

    There’s a viciousness and shrillness to the Republican party.
    It’s become an “if you don’t think like us or don’t look like us, you don’t belong” mentality.
    There’s no acceptance of the current change in party power, but only anger.
    A party leadership that should strive for civil discourse so legislative work can be done won’t do it.
    There are a lot of people around who carry their venom loudly and openly, if that group isn’t brought under control the party is going to alienate the middle ground they need for any sort of political life and election victories ahead.

  9. par4 says:

    Lina, moderate centrist/center right Republicans are what the Democrats are.

  10. par4 says:

    Col. Did you see Hillary at AIPAC and do you have any thoughts on it,that you will share,if you did?

  11. VietnamVet says:

    A little more military organization and head smashing and you have a sense for the impact of the brownshirts on Germany in the 1920s.

  12. R Whitman says:

    The Tea-baggers are the modern equivalent to the “Know Nothing” party of the mid 19 century. They have rage, frustration and unhappiness but no organized political aim other than getting the present incumbents out of office.Unless some really good demagogue comes along and gives them a practical winnable direction, they are destined to take their place besides the American Firsters, the John Birch Society, the Christian Anti-Communist Crusade and the Promisekeepers.

  13. alnval says:

    Col. Lang:
    Do the Republicans have any choice?
    How are the Tea-Partyers’s behaving in a way that is inconsistent with the Republican’s reliance over the past 30 years on faith instead of fact in making decisions about how best to govern this country?
    It seems to me that the TPer’s fit right in with the Republicans’s general political model for governing; having a lot of self-serving opinions without too many facts to back them up. This has resulted in their creating a governing ideology based on religious dogma and faulty economic theory bolstered by their deliberately cultivating a kind of ignorance in the electorate that scares people into believing that there are forces out there that will get them if they don’t follow what the party thinks is best. We’ve always been susceptible to the Boogie-Man but I used to think that that went away when we grew up. Clearly, it doesn’t. What’s also sad is that the TPer tail may now be wagging the Republican dog.
    These forces used to be more or less under control when we had a Cold War and maybe that’s what we’re waiting for again. (Maybe that’s what folks mean when they talk about the Rapture.) The important thing during the Cold War was keeping everybody on the planet from dying in a nuclear holocaust. We all thought that that was pretty rational even if the ‘duck and cover’ exercises were not.
    Now I don’t know what’s rational anymore. The founding verities that used to drive this country seem to have disappeared. And, if Texas has its way, our school books will have even fewer of them than ever to teach to our students.
    Will things improve for the Republicans, stay the same or get worse? IMO until the Republicans come to grips with their failure to understand that despite their faith in the righteousness of their cause that tomorrow things will be no different politically than they are today unless they develop a plan for attracting voters from the rational middle that doesn’t rely on irrational fear-mongering. It they don’t do this then their fantasies of coming into power because the other side is inevitably doomed to failure can only result in their demise. Or, God save us, a more effective Gen. Smedley Butler.

  14. Expect many more incumbents to drop out shortly from both parties. After all at the end, all were exhausted from the Health Care debate and effort. Suspect a large voter turnout might hold surprises for many incumbents in November but still of course a long way to go. I understand their is now also a “Coffee Party”?

  15. ked says:

    “propaganda has consequences”
    Yes, it is exactly what they want – because it is exactly who they are. That deal went down long ago – from the Southern Strategy to Lee Atwater to Karl Rove. There are no country club/cocktail party conservatives left. Barry Goldwater & William Buckley wouldn’t even make the grade with today’s clan.

  16. Sidney O. Smith III says:

    John Lewis is a good man. Representative from my district. I have always voted for him. Not saying I agree with him on everything as I read Hayek — and Lewis, unlike Jimmy Carter, is MIA re: Middle East — but he is a good man. Sincere. He took some major heat for endorsing Hillary in the GA primary but, wow, did he change horses fast the day after the primary. Nanoseconds.
    I really advise against using the “n” word. Sure, a person has the right, but why say it? As the little old ladies of the Virginia DAR may say, to what good?

  17. N. M. Salamon says:

    The different power elites alway distort the truth [or facts] to suit themselves:
    Banks had liar loans and uncomprehensible 30 page “contracts” for card holders {Warren from Oversight Committee]
    The Government has “unemployemnt” Inflation and GDP to lie about [see: with expalnations].
    AIPAC and co has distortions on ME land in General, and Israel in particular [see HAARets, or this blog]
    etc ad infinotum
    As the national [OECD] countries are failing around to resist acting on certain problems which are undeniablle: limit to growth in a closed ecological unit, global warming and its consequences, decreasing availability of cheap energy:
    50 pages worth reading -does not put date on issues, only pooints to FACTS and analysis of FACTS.
    The LIARS all presume that as long as they can keep-up, and longer, they will be “PROTECTED FROM REALITY” or they can REMAKE REALITY [Bush #43], whereas even God Can not change reality, these are lost dreams, leading to chaos [or collapse].
    So the Repblican’s effort at Tea Party is as destructive to the Future of USa [and the world] as \Prof Krugman’s diatre re more “stimulus” [we can debase the currency ad infiitum] or his effort to bash Chines Currency [China had a NET DEFICIT in international trade last month – thus can not buy Treasuries [see topday’s posting], or denial of Peak oil, Climatechange etc

  18. Byron Raum says:

    As I think back on today and yesterday, and then the week before, I wonder: what’s wrong with us? Why didn’t I stand outside in the rain as the Teabaggers did. Why didn’t I try to get my Congressman to stand up and say “I vote against this deeply flawed war?” Why didn’t I yell “Nancy, Nancy?” I watched the drumbeat to war with dismay, as many of us did, I might have said a few words here and there, but none of us really put forth any effort of the magnitude that these people have. Why is their belief superior to ours? No matter who is wrong or right, why are they so united when we couldn’t be?

  19. alnval says:

    Col. Lang:
    A note of appreciation for you, the commenters and this post.
    I grew up intellectually in the era of McCarthy and the Loyalty Oath. It was a devastating and terrifying time. Conforming was everything. No one thought publicly outside the box. After Eisenhower’s intervention and the failure of the Army-McCarthy hearings we all thought that it was over. Now, 55 years later, in addition to everything else we’ve talked about that heralds our willingness to again allow others to think for us, Texas is on the verge of rehabilitating him.
    I’ve always known that history repeats itself so the idea that we could be returning to that period is nothing new to me. What relieves me and gives me hope is that the rest of you see it as well.
    Thank you.

  20. Nancy K says:

    Byron, you probably have a job and are raising children and do not have the time to travel to Washington DC and yell slurs at anyone who does not agree with you,
    Having seen pictures of the tbaggers rallies, I note that a majority of them appear 65 and older and have the time and money to participate because they are receiving Social Security and Medicare, but thank goodness neither of those represent any form of socialism. These people are just not the sharpest knives in the drawer.

  21. Adam L Silverman says:

    Alnval: I think this gets to the heart of this. I’m currently reading Oshinsky’s biography of SEN McCarthy and have just gotten through the first third, which brings the reader through to the end of the first round of hearings that were precipitated by his rhetoric in the early 1950s. Even at this stage what you see is that a position or topic, in this case rabid anti-Communism, was picked up by the Republican Party as a wedge issue to beat up on the Democrats in the majority, as well as President Truman. The specific details of how more reflective and responsible Republican leaders like Senators Lodge and Taft found this distasteful, new McCarthy was an ill informed, drunken, reprobate, but played along anyway because the found him to be useful and figured that if he succeeded that it would improve Republican fortunes and if he failed they could distance themselves because he’d spent most of his first term showing he was a loose cannon that would shoot at anything – Democratic or Republican. Essentially they created a monster, or rather allowed for one’s creation, and then lost complete control. The details that Oshinsky provides on the background of the anti-Communism movement, the folks who were glomming on to McCarthy, being pulled into his orbit, pulling him into theirs, or were just generally misinformed/poorly informed all seem to be parallel to the current crop of Tea Partiers.
    Similarly, when I read the first volume of Catton’s Centennial History of the Civil War back in the late Fall/early Winter (its thick going, but well worth it), the thing that struck me the most in the first volume, which deals with the run up to the war, was how if you substituted the names of today’s Republican leaders (in and out of office and in the media and punditocracy) for the “Fire Breathers” that were pushing for secession no matter what and that fractured the Democratic Party, and if you modernized the language, its the same overheated rhetoric you see and hear today from the Tea Partiers and their media and organizational enablers and the Republicans who seek to ride the tiger whose tail they’ve caught.
    I’ve written in some of my scholarly work about their being not only a religiosity cycle in the US, but also an extremism cycle – and often there is overlap between them. I think as we approach the aging of the most recent American religiosity cycle, which began in the mid to late 1970s, we are seeing overlap with the most recent extremism cycle and they are both moving in new and disturbing directions as they feed of the sense of perpetual grievance that talk radio and the Fox News commentators (and some of their regular reporters as well, and some of the folks on the other networks) promote. The problem is that anger can be a great motivator for change, both positive and negative, but perpetual, professional grievance doesn’t lend itself to governance as governance is messy business and self-righteousness is simon pure!

  22. crf says:

    I doubt many americans in general would do any better than tea-baggers on their knowledge of levels of taxation.
    It’s hard to learn any kind of facts from the media. What you learn instead, for example, is that “she” said that ‘taxation is at its lower levels ever’, and “he” said ‘liberals are taxing us to death to pay for big government’.
    If the media treat people like f****** idiots, then we should be happy that the worst we’ve seen so far are “tea parties”, and that only one crazy nut, so far, has bashed a plane into a building.

  23. HJFJR says:

    I just finished rereading Richard Hofstadter’s “Anti-Intellectualism” and “Paranoid Style in American Politics.” Populists movements throughout the history of our nation have never been bothered by facts and figures, truth and reality. The Tea Party is the latest incarnation of populism, while the times have may have changed, the tactics the rhetoric are not new. Those who use the “n” word at members of the Black Caucus would be at home with the like of Ben Watson, Pitchfork Ben Tillman and Theodore G. Bilbo.

  24. graywolf says:

    I suppose that you’ve been asleep for the last 30 years as college campuses became strait-jacketed by political correctness, complete with “free speech” codes and the media turned itself into a propoganda arm for the hard left.
    “McCarthyism” isn’t just for the right….and BTW, it turns out that McCarthy wasn’t always wrong.

  25. Patrick Lang says:

    How are you, friend? You are absolutely right in saying that that Tail Gunner Joe was not always wrong. The infiltration of the American left by communists and such like that was most impressive.
    That does not mean that McCarthy was not a total asshole. pl

  26. shepherd says:

    They may be misinformed fools, but then again…
    “Hain’t we got all the fools in town on our side? And ain’t that a big enough majority in any town?” –Mark Twain

  27. Espionage happens.
    Naturally there was Soviet penetration of the US government, defense industry, and the like. And just as naturally there was counterintelligence pressure against it from our side.
    Prior to World War II, the Soviet GRU was particularly able in their work. After WWII, the old NKVD picked up some steam etc.
    The VENONA Project the thousands of declassified papers at NSA cast light on this:

  28. alnval says:

    Col. Lang:
    Thank you for your observations on McCarthy and the TPers. The references were helpful. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.
    I hope you don’t mind a few additional comments and questions.
    I was intrigued by your implication that cycles of religiosity and extremism exist independently even though there is often overlap between them. In the course of your work have you found any evidence to suggest that the attributes that define each may ultimately derive from a kind of proto, non-reality based belief system?
    I enjoyed your synthesis of the idea that there exists in our culture a “sense of perpetual grievance.” (I assume this is something that can be nurtured and promoted in much the same way one would promote the need to buy aspirin or Viagra.) And, that this finding has resulted in the creation of a new job that of “professional griever” whose duty it is to remind the aggrieved and potentially aggrieved, several hours a day, how annoyed and dissatisfied they are entitled to be. What a fertile ground to sow the seeds of religious conflict and political extremism!
    This, of course, also implies the presence of employers; people who are going to use the media they control to constantly remind their target audience not only how dissatisfied they should be, but who or what are causing all their problems and what can be done about it.
    In short, if I understand you correctly, this means that with the employment of professional grievers to help us address our sense of perpetual grievance, we must now consider the possibility that the employer’s agenda may not be confined to the simple selling of a product but may be part of a larger venture designed to disrupt the stability of the country. Ugly, indeed.

  29. different clue says:

    Byron Raum, aside from agreeing-in-principle with Nancy K about who has more time for protests and why; I also note that during the run up to Junior’s Iraq War many people protested over and over in many cities in bad weather. But the MSM dropped a cone of silence over them to make sure too few other people saw and followed their example to reach any sort of critical mass level of effectiveness.
    So a lot of protesters came to feel like unsung salmon swimming up a circular river. So they gave up and went home and stayed there. (But a lot of us did come out to vote against McCain and Palin).
    William R. Cumming, I have read about this Coffee Party. I believe it was some San Francisco Bay area liberals trying to come up with a politically symbolic counterweight to the Tea Party. I wish they would have called it Coffee Club instead, because Coffee Party sounds somehow imitative and derivative. But they founded it, I didn’t; so they get to call it whatever they want. (If any of their members read this comment and decide the name Coffee Club sounds better, I give the name away for free).
    CRF, I also don’t know what Federal Income Tax rate
    a person or couple of $50,000/year would pay. But
    I should think it would be easy enough to look up in the tax-tables/rate-schedules at the end of the IRS how-to tax booklet. Look up $50,000 and people making that owe at the very most whatever it says there.
    Am I wrong about that as an initial first step?
    N.M.Salamon, here is a fascinating article called “How To Reduce Global Fuel Consumption by 75%”. The article notes that the faster you push something through the air, the higher air-resistance to its passage through the air becomes. In fact, air resistance against the object increases by some sort of cube of the increase
    in the object’s speed. Or conversely, the air resistance against an object
    decreases by some kind of cube root of the decrease of the object’s speed. Now if the object we are talking about happens to be cars….
    Anyway, here is the link.

  30. “Law enforcement authorities are investigating the discovery of a cut propane gas line at the Virginia home of Rep. Tom Perriello’s (D-Va.) brother, whose address was targeted by tea party activists angry at the congressman’s vote for the health care bill.
    “An aide to the congressman confirmed to POLITICO that a line to a propane tank behind his brother’s home near Charlottesville had been sliced. …
    The FBI would not disclose the details of the incident, but said that they have been to the home.”

  31. alnval says:

    Col. Lang:
    CK reminds me that we must not diminish the significance of these actions by chalking them off as outliers or aberrations or the righteous indignation of misunderstood patriots.
    In my mind the dots form a pattern suggesting that the political and religious extremism Silverman referred to earlier is indeed alive and well in the United States and that we are not far from finding ourselves faced once more with the fact that there are no euphemisms suitable to explain away this domestic terrorism now than there were when McViegh blew up the Murrah building.

  32. “Nine members of a Michigan-based Christian militia group have been indicted on sedition and weapons charges in connection with an alleged plot to murder law enforcement officers in hopes of setting off an anti-government uprising.”
    Note the cultic references to “end times” and “anti-Christ” and so forth. This tracks with the Christian Zionist “Armageddon” eschatology.
    There was a video documentary a while back which showed a childrens “Christian” Summer Camp in which there was weapons training and so forth…
    Our internal security problem in not just Al Qaeda and company….

  33. confusedponderer says:

    apparently you do not refer to Jesus Camp (2006)? I don’t recall there was anything with weapons training being in it.

  34. confusedponderer,
    Yes, JesusCamp was an interesting and revealing video. I recall hearing of survivalist and weapons training for youngsters but where escapes me at the moment as I waded through such masses of info for my book project. I had thought it was in video form but perhaps it was in print or in some interviews. Nonetheless, something to keep an eye on.

  35. Update on the Christian militia types.
    They have a website which depicts them in a photo in cammo with assorted weapons in a forest setting with two bored dogs.
    Their website in its Links section promotes one “Rev.” Jack Van Impe, for whom see wiki:
    Looking at his own website, the profile is decidedly in the Christian Zionist/Armageddonist mode.
    His “End Days” mumbo jumbo follows the standard 19th century Darbyite format/boiler plate just like Hagee and the rest of this crowd of televangelists.
    The group also links to an organization following the “Rev.” Herbert Armstrong ministry which is also end times oriented but in addition incorporates the “British Israel” cultic ideology. The latter is sometimes found linked to the “Identity” movement or “Aryan Identity” types.
    On the Christian Identity Movement see wiki:
    Both Van Impe and Armstrong look to the European Union as a sort of indicator of the Anti-Christ and End Times scenario. This is standard and derives from an interpretation of a “ten horned beast” which the EU is said to symbolize. (I know…but…) The militia website has several links to European related matters.
    Fnord will be interested that the militia website recommends the Jerusalem Post.
    While all this may seem wacky and out in left field and all that, nonetheless these delusional people can become “armed and dangerous” as this most recent case demonstrates. We are looking at about 10-15 percent of the US population or more following the “End Times” Armageddon ideology. And it appears that the armed fringe is now beginning to surface.

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