Were you thrown overboard at a Tea Party?

Published 10:27 am Friday, April 17, 2009

On April 15 this year several thousand Americans threw themselves overboard in an attempt at a tax protest.

It is reported that many may be drowning in a sea of misinformation. This article is a life preserver for those people.

Let me first say that on April 15, every year, all Americans think their taxes are too high. It is a painful moment and we all experience a very typical emotional response, especially in hard times.

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We all would like government to spend less, while providing all the expectations we have come to demand. And we are never happy with the level of taxes we pay. It is just the nature of our grumbling.

But, this year, the folks who gathered to complain were demanding lower taxes, less spending and several other seemingly unrelated issues, all with a focus upon the new Obama administration.

Are they right? Has the new President in his first 100 days taxed Americans higher and committed wasteful spending?

President Obama ran for office arguing that, in the last 30 years, the middle class has suffered from all economic directions.

From pensions lost or reduced to the loss of living wage jobs, to lost health insurance, rising college costs and the current equity loss in their primary investment, their homes. If elected, Obama promised to address these issues.

So has he done so, or is he raising taxes and spending foolishly?

While protesters complained of higher taxes, the opposite has happened.

For 95 percent of Americans their taxes have been cut. And, other than smokers, there have been no tax increases.

But the Obama administration has also reduced the cost of COBRAs (transition health insurance) by 70 percent to Americans out of work.

Pell Grants have reduced the cost of college and made it more accessible for all Americans.

Unemployment coverage has been extended while jobs remain scarce. SCHIPS has been increased to help working parents pay for their children’s insurance.

And a mortgage saving package has been created to help those who have been responsible in their homes to keep and re-finance those homes.

So the case that taxes are higher is simply false.

Taxes are lower and the costs that Americans in the Middle Class struggle with have been addressed to help both the economy and our struggling working families.

The protesters were also speaking out against the high level of government spending. They are concerned about the effects of our debt on future generations. This concern is well placed.

But is Obama the creator of this problem? To a great degree he is not.

The Bush administration gave us a trillion dollar cost of war, a trillion dollar cost of the prescription drug program, an $800 billion dollar TARP rescue program, an unsustainable alternative tax law, and an unsolved future debt facing us in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

The current administration faces these problems and a deteriorating infrastructure, an educational system in crisis, and a health care system badly broken.

Equally critical is our continued dependence on foreign oil, a problem that will not be solved by more drilling.

And of course the new administration was presented with a recession that has lasted longer and gone deeper in the American economy than any other since the Great Depression.

Virtually all economists argue that government cannot reduce spending during this type of economic cycle.

The protesters were mostly middle class folks, who will all benefit from the Obama policies and who have already benefitted by the tax cut. Let’s hope future tea parties do not throw their supporters overboard.

Jim Crawford is a contributing columnist for The Tribune and a former educator at Ohio University Southern.