On tax day, thousands of "teabaggers" held rallies all over the country to express faux outrage over President Obama's economic policies. On the capitol steps in Sacramento, a predominately white and Republican crowd chanted, "No More Bail Outs! No More Stimulus! No More Taxes!" On the other side of the country, protesters held signs in Washington, DC that read "Commander in Thief" and "Party like it's 1773."
Grassroots movement it was not. The turnout across the nation was far from expected. Major cities like Chicago and Cincinnati, which were expecting crowds in the hundreds of thousands, only registered four or five thousand people. What's more, NYT columnist Paul Krugman has questioned the validity of this "movement" by revealing that the tea parties have been funded by Republican-led think tanks as FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity. No one saw that coming.
Now, I love the First Amendment just as much as the next American but these right-wing rebels did not seem to make any fuss when Bush was spending their hard-earned mulah willy-nilly over the past eight years. During his administration, Bush presided over the largest increase in inflation-adjusted federal spending since Lyndon B. Johnson. Even after excluding defense-related spending, Bush is the biggest-spending president in about 30 years. Within his first term in office, total government spending grew by 33 percent. Ouch.
Despite Republicans' sudden interest in cutting government spending, recent polls suggest that more than half of Americans agree with the way President Barack Obama has handled the economy thus far. In response to the teabaggery, Obama said that he is providing 95% of families with a tax break and that the issue of taxes has been used "to scare people into supporting policies that increased the burden on working people instead of helping them live their dreams."
So why are Republicans pulling the libertarian card out now? The majority of those huffing and puffing will receive some form of a tax break from the federal government. Hmm.. I have a sneaking suspicion that this has very little to do with taxes after all. Then again, coming up with a legitimate dispute has never been the Republicans' cup of tea. Badum tish.