Tax Day: It's a (Tea) Party in the USA

Julie Marsh

Flick: Photo by alancleaver_2000
Yesterday was April 15 -- Tax Day. In addition to the crowds of people at post offices (who wants to mail a check to the government any sooner than they absolutely have to?) there were crowds gathered across the country to rally on behalf of the Tea Party movement.

Just as they did last year, Tea Party supporters gathered in parks, on streets, and outside government buildings. But while last year's Tax Day focus was on taxes, this year the Tea Party movement is throwing its weight behind candidates they've deemed to be fiscally conservative, including one Democrat.

What are they unhappy about, and why? Moreover, are they the only ones?

According to the CBS News Political Hotsheet, a February poll found that 64% of Tea Party supporters believe that the Obama administration has raised taxes. Another poll released this week shows that 34% of all Americans believe that the President has raised taxes.

Technically, that will be true when the Bush tax cuts expire. The rest of us either saw a tax cut or no change. And in spite of popular rhetoric opposing taxes, most Americans, and more than half of Tea Party supporters, believe the taxes they paid this year were fair.

Which is probably a good thing, considering how Americans on both sides of the aisle cling to their entitlements: Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and the expansion of government into health care coverage. Those programs make up 40% of our annual federal budget. Add in another 20% for national defense and 10% toward paying interest on our national debt, and "the prospect of delivering a smaller government becomes a lot more challenging."

But yesterday the Tea Party movement unveiled its "Contract from America" -- a 10 point platform that specifies what the group wants to see from government leaders. While it's heavy on the fiscal side of reform, with no mention of any social issues, it's also vague and redundant.

What the Tea Party movement seems most likely poised to achieve are some hard-fought electoral battles this fall that may allow Democratic incumbents like Barbara Boxer to keep her seat and Republican incumbents like John McCain to lose his. Not sure those are the results they're hoping for.

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