The Tea Party movement develops a platform. It’s the Underpants Gnomes Business Plan!

Summary:  This post examines one attempt to define the Tea Party Movement.  It’s the Underwear Gnomes Business Plan brought to life.  Perhaps they’ll evolve in the future and advocate sensible solutions, but what we see today resembles a child’s tantrum. 

Here we see one of the many attempts being made to bring coherence and focus to the Tea Party movement’s political ambitions.  Chris Good, blogging at the Atlantic, gives some background here.   At the end are links articles about the movement — and posts about the movement on the FM website.

The Contract from America

From the Contract website:

The Contract from America serves as a clarion call for those who recognize the importance of free market principles, limited government, and individual liberty. It is the natural extension of a movement that began in the local communities and quickly spread across America in response to unprecedented government expansion, reckless spending, and a blatant disregard by our leaders of the nation’s founding principles.

During the past several months, hundreds of thousands of Americans have debated thousands of ideas to solve our nation’s most pressing problems. It has been an open process and has provided a genuine opportunity to give voice to a broad cross section of concerned Americans.

Now we enter the next phase; to narrow the list and ask America to help draft the final version of the Contract from America. Click here to vote on your priorities. The final document will be unveiled on Thursday, April 15, 2010. Together, we can and will make a difference.

We, as citizens of the United States of America, in order to preserve the liberties the United States Constitution was created to protect, call upon those seeking to represent us in public office to sign this Contract and by doing so commit to upholding the principles herein and bringing to a vote in the first year the agenda set forth below:

  • Individual Liberty
  • Limited Government
  • Economic Freedom

I have sorted the proposals into the 3 categories.  Many apply to more than one category. 

(A) Individual Liberty

  1. Protect the Constitution: Require each bill to identify the specific provision of the Constitution that gives Congress the power to do what the bill does.
  2. Commit to Government Transparency: Every bill, in its final form, will be made public seven days before any vote can be taken and all government expenditures authorized by any bill will be easily accessible on the Internet before the money is spent.
  3. Protect Internet Freedom: No regulation or tax on the Internet.
  4. Give Parents More Choices in the Education of Their Children: Improve American education by reforming the broken federal role through eliminating ineffective and wasteful programs, giving parents more choices from pre-school to high school, and improving the affordability of higher education.
  5. Stop Career Politicians and Curb Lobbyist Power: Begin the Constitutional amendment process to require Congressional term limits.
  6. Let Us Watch: Broadcast all non-security meetings and votes on C-SPAN and the Internet.
  7. Protect Freedom of the Press: Prohibit the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from using funds to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine in any form, including requiring “localism” or “diversity” quotas.
  8. Protect Private Property Rights: Block state and local governments that receive federal grants from exercising eminent domain over private property for the primary purpose of economic development or enhancement of tax revenues.
  9. Reject Cap & Trade: Stop costly new regulations that would increase unemployment, raise consumer prices, and weaken the nation’s global competitiveness with virtually no impact on global temperatures.
  10. Sunset Regulations and Enact Fundamental Regulatory Reform: Sunset all regulations in order to eliminate those that are wasteful, unconstitutional, and ineffective, and place strict limits on the ability of agencies to create regulations.
  11. Audit the Fed: Begin an audit of the Federal Reserve System.

(B) Limited Government

  1. Demand a Balanced Budget: Begin the Constitutional amendment process to require a balanced budget with a two-thirds majority needed for any tax hike.
  2. Stop the Tax Hikes: Permanently repeal all tax hikes, including those to the income, capital gains, and death taxes, currently scheduled to begin in 2011.
  3. Enact Fundamental Tax Reform: Adopt a fair and simple single-rate tax system by scrapping the internal revenue code and replacing it with one that is no longer than 4,543 words—the length of the original Constitution.
  4. End Runaway Government Spending: Impose a statutory cap limiting the annual growth in total federal spending to the sum of inflation rate plus the percentage of population growth.
  5. Let Us Save: Allow young Americans the choice of opting out of Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes, creating both real financial security in retirement through the freedom to own your personal retirement savings, and reducing the long-term unfunded liabilities of the federal government.
  6. Restore Fiscal Responsibility & Constitutionally Limited Government: Create a Blue Ribbon taskforce that engages in a complete audit of federal agencies and programs, assessing their Constitutionality, and identifying duplication, waste, ineffectiveness, and agencies and programs better left for the states.
  7. No More Bailouts: The federal government should not bail out private companies and should immediately begin divesting itself of its stake in the private companies it owns from recent bailouts.
  8. Stop the Pork: Place a moratorium on all earmarks until a balanced budget is achieved, and then require a 2/3 majority to pass any earmark.

(C) Economic Freedom

  1. Pass Market-Based Health Care and Health Insurance Reform: Make health care and insurance more affordable by enabling a competitive, open, and transparent free-market health care and health insurance system that isn’t restricted by state boundaries.
  2. Pass an ‘All of the Above’ Energy Policy: Authorize the exploration of proven energy reserves to reduce our dependence on foreign energy sources from unstable countries and reduce regulatory barriers to all other forms of energy creation, lowering prices and creating competition and jobs.

Analysis of these proposals

Let’s summarize the proposals for Limited Government, as numbers are relatively easy to analyze.  They see that the Federal Government has run large deficits for decades (esp under real accounting).  The proposed solution is the Underwear Gnomes Business Plan (Wikipedia, video).

  1. We want no new taxes, no new spending, and a few small spending reductions.
  2. ???
  3. Balanced Budget!

This is childish, perhaps moronic.  Everybody wants lower taxes and minor spending cuts.  That’s been the practice of Republican Party officials since Reagan.  And Democratic Party officials also.  That’s why we have deficits.  All these proposals show is that these people don’t understand the problem.  Or more accurately, that these people are part of the problem.

Articles about the Tea Party Movement

  1. I Want to Set the Record Straight“, Rick Santelli, CNBC, 2 March 2009 — His reply to the allegations.
  2. The Rick Santelli ‘Tea Party’ Controversy: Article Kicks Up a Media Dust Storm“, Mark Ames and Yasha Levine, AlterNet, 3 March 2009
  3. Uprising? Corporate Lobbyists Helping To Orchestrate Radical Anti-Obama Tea Party Protests“, Lee Fang, ThinkProgress, 9 April 2009
  4. Fake Teabaggers Are Anti-Spend, Anti-Government: Real Populists Want to Stop Banks from Plundering America“, Mark Ames and Yasha Levine, AlterNet, 15 April 2009 — “The tea parties are AstroTurf,  fake grassroots.”
  5. Party Foul! Tea Partiers Eat Their Own In Bitter Internal Feud“, TPM, 12 November 2009
  6. The Movement – The rise of Tea Party activism“, Ben McGrath, New Yorker, 1 February 2010 — The most detailed reporting I’ve seen about this.
  7. At last the bare bones of a political platform for the Tea Party:  “Convention Is Trying to Harness Tea Party Spirit“, New York Times, 6 February 2010 — TP’s want smaller government.  But do they have small expectations of what they want government to do for them?  That’s the test of their seriousness.
  8. The Tea Partiers: Fraudulent Fiscal Conservatives“, Andrew Sullivan, blog of The Atlantic, 8 February 2010
  9. A conservative visits the Tea Party Convention:  “Black Helicopters Over Nashville“, Jonathan Kay (Editor at Canada’s National Post), Newsweek, 9 February 2010 — “Never mind Sarah Palin and the tricornered hats. The tea-party movement is dominated by conspiracist kooks.”
  10. Poll: Tea Party Shows Prospects; Less So for Sarah Palin“, ABC News, 11 February 2010

Glenn Reynolds, the Instapundit, has strongly promoted the movement:  see this Google list of his posts about them (with photos!).  Also see his paean about them:  “Tea Parties: Real Grassroots“, op-ed in the  New York Post, 13 April 2009.

For more information on the FM website

Reference pages about other topics appear on the right side menu bar, including About the FM website page.   Such as…

Posts on the FM website about the Tea Party Movement:

  1. Are the new “tea party” protests a grass roots rebellion or agitprop?, 1 March 2009
  2. Our ruling elites scamper and play while our world burns, 11 March 2009
  3. The weak link in America’s political regime, 16 September 2009
  4. More examples of Americans waking up – should we rejoice?, 10 October 2009
  5. Does the Tea Party movement remind you of the movie “Meet John Doe”?, 27 January 2010
  6. Listen to the crowds cheering Sarah Palin, hear the hammerblows of another nail in the Constitution’s coffin, 8 February 2010

Afterword

Please email me if you have a correction to this post.  Or email me if you wish to make a comment and either have expertise in this field or are mentioned in this post. Send messages to fabmaximus at hotmail dot com (note the spam-protected spelling).

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