The sign over there is from a picture I took at our local exhibition of public tea-bagging. I’m in upstate New York, in a county that’s been blue for a while now, but still has a pretty solid conservative core, though that’s by and large aging, like it is everywhere else. Anyhow this sign expresses a sentiment that seems fairly common among our tea-bagging friends. They genuinely seem to believe, deep down, that they speak for the "majority." They believe, deep down, that they are the Real America. They believe, deep down, that they are Normal.
This may not be precisely true, in the strictest sense.
As for the majority thing, well, we did have an election back in November, which was not all that long ago, and their guy lost. By a lot more than their guy won in 2000, and under far less shady circumstances. There are no poll data whatsoever to support the idea that Americans are Fed Up when it comes to taxes — this is, indeed, rather spectacularly not the case. And why should it? Could it even be the case that Americans’ tax burden is at historic lows? Why, yes!
The middle fifth of taxpayers, who earned an average of $60,700 per household in 2006, paid just 3 percent in federal income tax that year, down from a high of 8.3 percent in 1981.
With federal income taxes so low for so many families, a majority of those surveyed by Gallup last week said the amount of federal income taxes they pay is either "too low" or "about right," compared with 46 percent who said their tax bills are "too high" — one of the most positive assessments of the federal tax burden since Gallup began asking the question in 1956.
This is a point that is not made nearly enough: Americans are facing some pretty rough times economically, and they know that, but they know that this is not because of taxes. And how do they know this? They’re not stupid, that’s how. Look, Bush could have abolished income taxes altogether, repealed the 17th Amendment, pissed on it even, and would that have kept our Financial Wizards from going crazy with their derivatives and crap mortgages and deregulated mayhem? Probably not.
From a rational perspective, seizing on taxes as the source of our woes right now is, well, crazy. And you know what else is just flat crazy? Most of the signs I saw at my own local teabagging. Nancy Pelosi runs a modern Gestapo? Barack Obama is an illegal Kenyan Communist Fascist Marxist madman? Are you kidding?
The Grandma-haired Byron York went to one of these small-town tea-bags, like I did, though, as he says, "organizers posted a note on their website asking that everyone "Please DO NOT personally attack the President or any member of Congress by name" — as it was a classic conservative Republican, limited-government, anti-spending talkfest." Well, when you’re told top-down what the message is, it cleans up real good, I guess. But everywhere else, Glenn Beck won, it was all very wingnutty sloganeering, and well, good luck building a winning electoral coalition on that, Republicans.