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The FreedomWorks chapter in Orange County organized a "Tax Revolt" to fight the results of the recent property revaluation and protest local government's unsustainable spending spree. Attendance was phenomenal, with over 1200 individuals showing up for the Monday night meeting. Missed the meeting but want to get involved? I would encourage you to read the report. A quote from protester Brian Berger of Carrboro summarizes the fight yet to come:
On behalf of hundreds of thousands of FreedomWorks members nationwide, I urge you to vote NO on H.R. 1105, the 2009 Omnibus Appropriations bill. Far from the new fiscal responsibility taxpayers were recently promised at President Obama’s Economic Summit, this bill is a whopping 80 percent spending increase packed with earmarks and sweeping policy changes.
Bryan Berger never imagined the tax revolt that began in his Carrboro living room would draw an overflow crowd to a 350-person meeting hall three weeks later.Organized through word-of-mouth and $1,700 worth of yard signs, fliers, newspaper ads and robocalls, the ``Orange Tax Revolt'' ballooned so big in the Big Barn on Monday night that leaders are looking for another venue for the meeting March 16.``It just made me feel so good all over,'' said Berger, who was just one of those donating money to the cause. ``To me, it's the best 200 bucks I ever spent.''
When I read Dick Armey's Feb. 5 op-ed, "Washington Could Use Less Keynes and More Hayek," I had just finished re-reading Hayek's famous book on the errors of socialism, "The Fatal Conceit." This first volume of his collected works was published in 1988, just before the Cold War ended with what was widely called an unequivocal triumph of capitalism. As a result of the financial crisis, the merits of the capitalist free market have become less clear again, and many politicians are inclined to embrace Keynesianism once more.
Reporting from Washington — When Herbert Hoover said on the eve of the Great Depression that "prosperity is around the corner," he was ridiculed as blindly optimistic, and shantytowns were mockingly named "Hoovervilles." When Jimmy Carter said a "national malaise" was behind U.S. economic woes in the 1970s, he was panned for being too grim and demoralizing.With his speech to Congress on Tuesday night, President Obama tried to navigate shoals that have challenged other presidents serving during times of economic crisis: how to balance warnings of dire circumstances against the need to inspire confidence.Obama was elected president as an agent of hope. But he has spent the first month of his presidency promoting a fearsome message: The recession will be long and deep, and possibly as bad as the Great Depression.His first speech before a joint session of Congress gave the president an opportunity to counter critics who say he has been too downbeat. Even former President Clinton has been telling Obama to lighten up to boost the nation's morale.In his speech, Obama brought in more of the optimism that was his campaign trademark. "We will rebuild, we will recover, and the United States of America will emerge stronger than before," he said.But he did not downplay the peril faced by a nation where the banking system is in shambles, the stock market is on the ropes and workers across the country have lost their jobs, or think they soon may."It's the worry you wake up with and the source of sleepless nights," he said.His address was aimed at two crucial audiences: consumers and Wall Street.So far Obama has managed to keep the public onboard: A New York Times/CBS poll this week found that 77% of people were optimistic about the next four years under Obama, even if they were skeptical that his economic recovery plan would be enough.Despite a market rally Tuesday, Obama has been far less successful in reassuring Wall Street. The two economic milestones of his new administration -- congressional approval of the $787-billion economic stimulus bill and Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner's speech on stabilizing the financial sector -- both sent the stock market tumbling.Mark Zandi, an economist with Moody's Economy.com, said consumers were the most important audience."Consumer confidence has been completely shattered," Zandi said. "His policies won't be effective unless confidence is restored. It's hard to know what the markets want. They don't know what they want."Obama tried to strike a balance that escaped Hoover and Carter, while also capturing some of the inspirational oratory typical of Ronald Reagan.As the nation wallowed in a severe recession in April 1981, Reagan emphasized solutions -- tax and spending cuts -- rather than problems in a speech to a joint session of Congress. "Our government is too big and it spends too much," he said in an appearance that was swathed in emotion because it was his first after he recovered from an assassination attempt."He was tough in explaining what our problems were, but there was a calm confidence about it," said Matt Kibbe, president of the conservative FreedomWorks Foundation. "The theme of every speech Reagan gave was: Our best years are ahead of us."Franklin D. Roosevelt, in his first inaugural address, acknowledged the gravity of the Great Depression, but offered one of history's best-known exhortations to optimism: "We have nothing to fear but fear itself."Roosevelt also tried to put the economic problems in perspective: "They concern, thank God, only material things," he said in a lesser-known passage of the same speech. "We are stricken by no plague of locusts. Compared with the perils which our forefathers conquered because they believed and were not afraid, we have still much to be thankful for."Roosevelt went on to preside over a depression that lasted a decade -- and he was still reelected.A key question is whether voters will be as patient with Obama. Roosevelt was president at a time when the pace of politics was not measured in 24/7 news cycles, and expectations of government intervention were not high."Now, people look to the president as chief problem solver," said Michael Genovese, director of the Institute for Leadership Studies at Loyola Marymount University. "The question is, how patient will the American public be? If it takes five years to turn the economy around, he might not be in for the fifth year."
Our new accountable and transparent government recently launched a website to monitor spending from the stimulus bill. On the very front page the site shows tax relief as the largest part of the stimulus. I took issue with that right away. The relief I thought they were talking about was the $400 tax rebates we're supposed to be getting which is looking more like welfare than a tax relief to me.
Let’s start with the good part of President Obama’s State of the Union speech last night, since that’s a much shorter task: He said his administration has “identified $2 trillion in savings over the next decade.” (A decent start against the $3.25 trillion he just spent in one single piece of legislation, but just wait until he tries to gore the sacred cows of members of Congress.)
This week, America will glimpse a different vision for the role of government when Louisiana's governor, Bobby Jindal, gives the Republican response to President Obama's address to Congress. Instead of more-of-the-same big government programs and deficit spending, Jindal is an innovator and reformer who is balancing the budget while cutting taxes. That approach is true change for Louisiana.
When CNBC’s Rick Santelli argued last week that President Barack Obama’s mortgage bailout plan would force hardworking Americans to pay for their neighbors’ mistakes, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs dismissed him as a know-nothing derivatives trader out of touch with Main Street. But if the White House simply dismisses Santelli’s point, it may do so at its peril: A Rasmussen poll released Monday found that 55 percent of those surveyed thought federal mortgage subsidies to those most at risk of losing their homes would be “rewarding bad behavior.” Santelli’s “Network”-style diatribe has already spawned a Facebook group and plans for “tea parties” protesting the bailout in major cities including Chicago and Washington. Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey’s group FreedomWorks has spun off a site called angryrenter.com to organize those who don’t own their homes to oppose the mortgage plan. And it’s not just Republicans who are complaining. Although Obama still floats on air among Democrats generally, he’ll need to use Tuesday night’s unofficial State of the Union address to build support for his housing plan even among members of his own party. According to the Rasmussen poll, even 49 percent of Democrats oppose mortgage subsidies like the ones Obama has proposed. Among them: Lynn Powers, 39, a Bethesda, Md., resident who describes herself as a “liberal Democrat” who has been hardworking, prudent and responsible — and now feels “like a fool.” “We were in the market,” she says. “We put out eight bids and got outbid every time. It was very upsetting for us. I want to see some accountability and responsibility across the board. The only way for me to have an affordable home, and I’m not looking for a McMansion at all, is if we let the chips fall, in a sense. This is still the bubble — the prices have to come down. You can’t just subsidize some of the people. I don’t know how you deleverage. It is going to be painful, but this is also hurting the people who behaved responsibly.” What does she mean by “responsibly”? “People who didn’t overbuy. Who stuck to their guns. Who read their contracts,” she says. She and her husband wound up buying a 600-square-foot studio and moved to a rental when they had their daughter, now 18 months old. “My husband and I paid for our cars in cash,” she says. “We have no credit card debt. We have no student loans. I don’t buy Starbucks, but that’s because they’re non-fair trade, nonenvironmental.” When they tried to buy a house, she said, “We just felt outgunned.” And now, she says, “I feel very outgunned as a citizen.”
If you Googled “stimulus” earlier this month, you probably stumbled upon a collection of ads blasting the Democrats’ economic recovery plan. Search the phrase “card check” and Google turns up labor union ads backing the controversial Employee Free Choice Act. The “Roy Blunt” Google search, meanwhile, sends you straight to a sponsored link for the Missouri Republican’s new Senate campaign. This isn’t an accident. Campaigns and other political organizations are finally getting Google-savvy, latching onto an advertising tool that most companies have been using for years. The campaigns are using targeted search terms — acquired in Google auctions — to put their message in front of interested online readers in hopes of influencing the political debate outside traditional media and advertising outlets. The stimulus debate offers a case study in how special interests push their spin on Google to reach people who care about the topic of the day in Washington. “Savvy political marketers are looking at this as a way to build their base,” said Peter Greenberger, who helms Google’s elections and issues team in Washington, D.C. “The stimulus was the perfect example of this.” FreedomWorks, an anti-tax group that crusades against government expansion, pegged a series of online campaigns to words like “stimulus” or “stimulus package” the week of the big vote. These include an online petition against the plan, a campaign to call congressional offices and an ad campaign criticizing conservative Blue Dog Democrats who voted for the bill. House Minority Leader John A. Boehner also used targeted searches to highlight a GOP alternative to the Democrats’ stimulus bill. His political action committee, the Freedom Project, sponsored links to popular search terms to spread the Republican message online. “It’s very user-friendly and very effective,” said Don Seymour, a spokesman for the Freedom Project. “The beauty of this is that you can change the campaign on the fly.” The GOP alternative is one of three campaigns Boehner’s Freedom Project has pegged to Google search terms this year. The first was an online petition opposing the release of the second $350 billion of a Wall Street bailout. The last protested the Democrats’ decision not to post the stimulus online for 48 hours, as they had promised. Companies have employed this advertising strategy for years as a business tool, but they have also lagged in using Google as a tool to influence voters. Automakers, for example, have used Google advertising for quite some time to market their cars online. But the auto giants have been less aggressive about taking their case to voters online until last fall, when the automakers used targeted searches to make the case for what became $17.4 billion in federal loans. “They are very savvy marketers about selling cars,” Greenberger said. “They have not done as much on the issues game.” Google started building its political market in 2007 in the early stages of the presidential campaign. Greenberger and his team set out to give the presidential campaigns a vehicle to target potential voters, donors and volunteers. The Google staff also helped the campaigns tailor online searches to target the most sympathetic audience.