Time for a tea party

Published 10:11 pm Tuesday, April 14, 2009

During the presidential campaign last year Joe Biden, who went on to become vice president, famously said, “It’s time to be patriotic” when he was asked about tax increases for people making more than $200,000. It’s “time to jump in, time to be part of the deal,” he said.

Biden’s demagoguery relied on some widely held misconceptions about tax policy and its effect on Americans’ pocketbooks. In fact, according to the Department of the Treasury, since 1990, 50 percent of taxpayers ponied up more than 94 percent of all individual income taxes. In other words, half of America gets almost a free ride on the backs of the other half. It’s time to jump in, indeed.

Sadly, well over a trillion dollars of bailouts and stimulus payments will only exacerbate the problem. With liberal democrats in control of the White House and Congress, a more even-handed approach to tax policy is pretty unlikely, at best. Instead, we will continue to hear lies about how the tax system is set up to protect The Rich.

Email newsletter signup

In fact, the top 1 percent of taxpayers paid more than a third of taxes in 2002, the most recent year for which figures are available. And, hard as it may be for some to accept, the Bush tax cuts actually shifted a larger share of individual income taxes onto higher-income taxpayers, again according to the Department of Treasury, not Fox News and the rest of the supposed radical right-wing.

Amid the misinformation and malfeasance, however, people have begun to fight back. Today, in locations all around the nation — including one in Virginia Beach — thousands of protesters are planning to stage a Tax Day Tea Party to show that they’re fed up with the way things are headed in Washington, D.C. The events have been planned largely on the Internet, with the help of talk radio, and they have received an unsurprisingly small amount of coverage in the mainstream media. Still, they’ve attracted a huge amount of interest among Americans.

The Boston Tea Party in 1773 — when colonists dumped three shiploads of taxed tea into the harbor to protest England’s draconian tax policies — helped launch a revolution. It’s time for America to wake up to the sad fate that awaits it if it continues down the path that has been set. Perhaps today’s tea parties will spur an economic revolution of their own.