Tea Party message to small businesses

Tea Party Group Urges Small Businesses ‘Not To Hire A Single Person’ To Hurt Obama

By Marie Diamond on Oct 20, 2011 at 11:25 am, Think Progress

Congressional Republicans have acted shocked and offended at Democrats’ suggestions that they are intentionally sabotaging the economy to try to win back the White House in 2012. Republicans have refused to pass President Obama’s jobs plan — which experts estimate will create at least 1.9 million jobs — and proposed an alternative plan that Moody’s says “will likely push the economyback into recession.”

Now influential Tea Party leaders are throwing caution to the wind and openly lobbying business owners to stop hiring in order to hurt Obama politically. This week, Right Wing Watch picked up on a message Tea Party Nation sent to their members from conservative activist Melissa Brookstone.

In a rambling letter titled “Call For A Strike of American Small Businesses Against The Movement for Global Socialism,” Brookstone urges businesses “not hire a single person” to protest “this new dictator”:

Resolved that: The current administration and Democrat majority in the Senate, in conjunction with Progressive socialists from all around the country, especially those from Hollywood and the left leaning news media (Indeed, most of the news media.) have worked in unison to advance an anti-business, an anti-free market, and an anti-capitalist (anti-individual rights and property ownership) agenda. […]

I, an American small business owner, part of the class that produces the vast majority of real, wealth producing jobs in this country, hereby resolve that I will not hire a single person until this war against business and my country is stopped.

Brookstone cites Democrats’ support of the Occupy Wall Street movement as proof that Obama, media elites, and the like are “against business, private property ownership and capitalism.” Although she fails to explain how a freeze on hiring would send a bold pro-business message, given that such a boycott would further damage the economy and exacerbate high national unemployment.

But these Tea Partiers are only too happy to put politics ahead of the well-being of 14 million unemployed Americans, not to mention the businesses who are looking for qualified workers

No More Mr. Nice Guy

Rep. Waters urges Obama to drop nice-guy act and fight Republicans, Tea Party

By Mike Lillis – 09/22/11 08:03 PM ET, The Hill

President Obama should quit watching sports and drinking beer with his political opponents in hopes it will lead to GOP cooperation, Rep. Maxine Waters said Thursday.

The outspoken California Democrat said Obama needs to fight harder for Democratic policy priorities in the face of entrenched opposition from Republicans and the Tea Party.

“He’s been very nice about it,” Waters said of Obama’s budget negotiations with Republicans. “He’s been on the other side of the aisle talking with people. He’s invited them up to the White House to have beer. He’s invited them to come and watch the Super Bowl games.“He’s done all of that, and when they eat his food and drink his beer and leave, then they go and try to kill him [on Capitol Hill],” she told an audience gathered for the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Foundation’s annual legislative conference in Washington.

“You’ve gotta fight — you will not win this battle without fighting,” she added.

Many House liberals have been disenchanted with Obama going back to December, when the president accepted GOP demands that the Bush-era tax rates be extended to even the wealthiest Americans — a provision strongly opposed by most Democrats.

The president drew similar liberal criticism this summer for backing enormous cuts in both a 2011 spending bill and legislation to raise the debt ceiling. More recently, some CBC members wondered aloud why Obama didn’t visit any urban areas on his August jobs tour through the Midwest.

Obama this month has taken steps to silence his liberal critics, adopting a more combative tone, for instance, in his Sept. 8 address before a joint session of Congress. Liberals are also cheering Obama’s proposal to eliminate the same tax rates for the wealthy that he’d backed in December.

Still, Waters suggested Thursday that CBC members remain wary of Obama’s willingness to fight for liberal priorities when the going gets tough.

“We love the president. We want him to be successful,” Waters said. “But does he feel our pain? Does he understand what’s going on out here?”

The White House did not respond to a request for comment.

Waters, who heads the CBC’s jobs taskforce, said she’s encouraged by Obama’s new proposal to address unemployment and rein in deficit spending. But she also warned that the group will be watching closely as the high-stakes budget negotiations evolve.

“We’re pleased that the president has a jobs proposal. Now we have to trace it and to track it … because strange things happen in the legislative process. We don’t want this to end up being just a tax-cut deal only,” she said.

“I love the president,” she added, “but I will ask the president, ‘Where’s the money?’ ”

Waters suggested the black community needs to become more involved if it wants Washington lawmakers to take notice, for instance, that the recession hit minority communities much harder than it did white populations.

“We have got to show up. The Tea Party shows up. The Tea Party intimidates everybody,” she said. “We have to show people that we have no fear. Don’t mistake the silence for intimidation.”

Waters generated headlines last month when, amid a CBC job-promotion tour, she said the Tea Party “can go straight to hell.”

On Thursday, she wasn’t apologizing.

“Yes, I was displayed in national media telling them where to go,” she said. “And I mean that.”

If anyone in the audience was surprised by Waters’s trenchancy, they shouldn’t have been. Indeed, the California Democrat had warned the crowd that she wouldn’t be holding her tongue.

“Please be worried about what I’m going to say,” she said at the start of her remarks,” because I’m going to say it anyway.”

Jon Stewart Takes on Tea Party Debate

For the Tea Party the Constitution Represents “A Way of Life” Rather Than A “Specific Set of Laws”

Study: Tea Partiers Are Deeply In Love With A Constitution They Want To Gut

By Ian Millhiser on Aug 23, 2011 at 2:15 pm, Think Progress

A study led by a team of UNC-Chapel Hill and Vanderbilt professors examining what “cultural dispositions” unite the Tea Party reaching some interesting conclusions about the political movement’s relationship with the Constitution. They simultaneouslyrevere the idea of the Constitution and hate much of what it actually says:

In our follow-up poll, 84% of those positive towards the TPM [Tea Party members] said the Constitution should be interpreted “as the Founders intended,” compared to only 34% of other respondents. Other respondents were also three times more likely not to have an opinion on the issue, highlighting the salience of the question for TPM supporters. Support for Constitutional principles is not absolute. TPM supporters were twice as likely than others to favor a constitutional amendment banning flag burning; many also support efforts to overturn citizenship as defined by the Fourteenth Amendment. . . . . The Constitution – and Tea Party more generally – take on heightened symbolic value and come to represent a ‘way of life’ or a “world view” rather than a specific set of laws or policy positions.

Sadly, the study actually paints a much more reasonable picture of the Tea Party than the reality suggests. Amending the Constitution to literally write your own policy preferences into the document is very rarely a good idea, but it is also an entirely legitimate way of bringing about constitutional change. The Tea Party, however, seems more interested in simply asserting repeatedly and loudly that the Constitution already imposes their preferred policy outcomes on the country — and in ignoring any evidence to the contrary.

In the past two years, we’ve seen Tea Party elected officials claim that everything from Social Security, to Medicare, to Pell Grants and federal student loans, to federal disaster relief, to theminimum wage, to child labor laws, to the ban on whites-only lunch counters all violate the Constitution. In other words, it’s clear that the Tea Party has little interest in following the actual Constitution — they just think the rest of the nation is gullible enough to believe that it says whatever the Tea Party wants it to say.

Obama to Put Forth Plan for US Economy

15 August 2011 Last updated at 23:48 ET, BBC News

Obama promises ‘very specific’ plan for US economy

US President Barack Obama has promised a “very specific” plan next month to improve the flagging US economy.

In Iowa on day one of a rural Midwest bus tour, he said he would put forward the blueprint when Congress returned in September.

As President Obama spoke, his would-be 2012 Republican challengers blamed him for the flagging American economy.

With US unemployment jammed at just above 9%, jobs could well remain a major issue for voters in 2012.

Responding to a question in a town hall in Decorah, Iowa, on Monday evening, Mr Obama said: “I’ll be putting forward when they [lawmakers] come back in September a very specific plan to boost the economy, to create jobs and to control our deficit.

“And my attitude is – get it done.”

‘Lowering the rhetoric’

Mr Obama set off on Monday morning on a three-day swing through Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois.

The tour – in an imposing Secret Service armoured bus – is officially a White House event, although Republicans called it a campaign trip.

The BBC’s Marcus George in Washington says Mr Obama is trying to reassert his leadership and, indirectly, shore up support in states that could make or break his campaign for a second term.

During Mr Obama’s stop in Decorah, he clashed with a local leader of the conservative Tea Party, Ryan Rhodes.

Mr Rhodes referred to reports that Vice-President Joe Biden had likened Tea Party members during recent debt-ceiling negotiations to terrorists.

Mr Obama replied: “In fairness, since I have been called a socialist who wasn’t born in this country, who is destroying America and taking away its freedoms because I passed a health care bill, I am all for lowering the rhetoric.”

Mr Obama’s approval rating dipped below 40% for the first time in a Gallup daily tracking poll on Sunday, although recent polls have shown far lower voter satisfaction with Congress.

‘Magical Misery bus tour’

Analysts say Mr Obama’s challenge is to convince voters that his policies – including a $787bn (£482bn) economic stimulus package and health care reforms – have helped the economy, not hindered it.

Presumptive Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney labelled Mr Obama’s trip the “Magical Misery bus tour”.

The former Massachusetts governor said in a statement the president was “more interested in campaigning in swing states than working to solve the economic crisis crushing the middle class”.

Texas Governor Rick Perry meanwhile completed his first full day of campaigning, telling the Associated Press news agency: “I respect all the other candidates in the field but there is no one that can stand toe-to-toe with us.”

In an interview with an Iowa newspaper, Mr Perry also challenged Mr Obama, to “get rid of the regulations stifling jobs in America”.

Mr Perry received an unexpected compliment in New York on Monday from Democratic former President Bill Clinton.

Mr Clinton said the Texan was a “good-looking rascal,” but indicated he was not so impressed by Mr Perry’s policies.

Republican congresswoman Michele Bachmann will begin a bus tour on Tuesday in South Carolina, buoyed by her win in Saturday’s non-binding “straw poll” in Iowa.

Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty dropped out of the race after finishing a distant third in that poll. Mr Romney did not compete.

Mr Romney, Ms Bachmann and Mr Perry are each vying to become the Republican nominee and challenge Mr Obama for the White House in 2012’s elections.

With the first real voting not scheduled to take place until February, correspondents say plenty of time remains for more upheaval in the Republican race.

This could include a late entrance from Sarah Palin, the former Alaska governor, 2008 vice-presidential nominee and conservative Tea Party hero.

Fact-checking GOP on Foreign Policy

GOP candidates flub facts on foreign policy

Posted By Josh Rogin, Foreign Policy  Friday, August 12, 2011 – 12:24 PM

Foreign policy turned out to be a prominent part of Thursday night’s GOP primary debate. The questions covered a range of countries — and the accuracy of the candidates’ responses was similarly all over the map.

Almost all the candidates committed unforced errors when talking about foreign policy and national security. Tim Pawlenty made the first mistake, when he referred to Michael Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as a “general.” Mullen is an admiral in the U.S. Navy. Pawlenty also said that Gen. David Petraeus told him that it would take “two years from last summer to have an orderly and successful wind down of our mission in Afghanistan, at least in terms of our troop withdrawal, and President Obama has accelerated that.”

“Two years from last summer” would mean that Petraeus was calling for significant troop withdrawals by the summer of 2012. That’s exactly the timeline that Obama has set for the withdrawal of the 30,000 surge troops. Pawlenty is correct that Obama wants to withdraw U.S. forces faster than what Petraeus recommended, but his explanation of Petraeus’s timeline was off.

Mitt Romney tried to clear up the confusion over his comments on Afghanistan in the last debate, when he said, “It’s time for us to bring our troops home as soon as we possibly can — as soon as our generals think it’s okay…. One lesson we‘ve learned in Afghanistan is that Americans cannot fight another nation’s war of independence.” Some Republicans interpreted that statement as Romney calling for a quick exit.

Last night, Romney said he always supported a slower exit than what Obama has announced, but he incorrectly stated that U.S. military leaders “recommended to President Obama that we should not start drawing our troops down until after the fighting season in 2012.”  But nowhere incongressional testimony have Mullen and Petraeus ever said the drawdown should begin after the 2012 summer fighting season, nor have they said that in any other public forum.

Adding to the inaccuracy, Jon Huntsman called for more engagement with the Chinese government. “We need a strategic dialogue at the highest levels between the United States and China,” he said. “That’s not happening.”

As Obama’s former ambassador to China, Huntsman surely must know that there have already been two rounds of the “U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue,” which was initiated in 2009, led by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, and included over 200 U.S. officials and a similar number of Chinese government representatives.

In fact, Huntsman even participated in the dialogue in Beijing in May 2010 and wrote a blog post about it, where he said that Clinton and Geithner “both told me they viewed the dialogue as a broad success. I couldn’t agree more.”

That’s not to mention that Obama and President Hu Jintao have met personally 9 times, Clinton meets with her counterpart Yang Jiechi on a regular basis, and Vice President Joe Biden will travel to Beijing next week to see Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping.

Newt Gingrich was called on in the debate to clear up what many saw as his changing position on Libya: he called for a no-fly zone on March 7, just before the Libya war began, and then saidafter the operation began, “I would not have intervened.”

Gingrich accused the debate moderator, Fox News’s Bret Baier, of using a “gotcha” question for asking him to clarify his position and then said that he called for the no fly-zone on March 7 because Obama “that day had announced gloriously to the world as the president of the United States that Qaddafi had to go.” But, in fact, Obama first called for Qaddafi’s departure on March 3, four days earlier.

Gingrich then said Obama reversed his position on Libya, claiming that the president shifted away from his call for Qaddafi to leave power in favor of a humanitarian intervention. In reality, Obama has always maintained that Qaddafi must go, although he is clear that the mandate of the military intervention in Libya does not include the mission to oust Qaddafi,

On Syria, Pawlenty mischaracterized Obama and Clinton’s statements on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. “Until recently, [Obama] and Hillary Clinton suggested that Bashar Assad was a reformer. He’s not a reformer, he’s a killer.” In fact, Obama has never referred to Assad as a reformer. Clinton said in March that she had heard from “lawmakers” who had visited Damascus that the Syrian president was a reformer.

A good portion of the foreign policy section of last night’s debate featured a battle over Iran policy between Ron PaulRick Santorum, and others. But that debate was riddled with factual errors and mischaracterizations.

Paul, who has taken the mantle of the Tea Party isolationist wing of the GOP, said that the CIA had confirmed they have no evidence that Iran was working on a nuclear weapon. Although a 2007 National Intelligence Estimate concluded that Iran had halted its drive to produce a nuclear weapons, in March 2010, a CIA report to Congress concluded that “Iran continues to develop a range of capabilities that could be applied to producing nuclear weapons, if a decision is made to do so.” In June of that year, CIA chief Leon Panetta said that the Iranians “are developing their nuclear capability and that raises concerns,” and “[w]e think they have enough low-enriched uranium right now for two weapons.”

Santorum contended that Iran “has killed more American men and women in uniform in Iraq and Afghanistan than the Iraqis and the Afghanistanis [sic] have.” Yes, Iran has supplied al Qaeda in Iraq with weapons and supported militant groups such as the Mahdi Army, resulting in the deaths of many U.S. troops, but the link to Afghanistan is extremely tenuous. Put simply, there are no statistics that support Santorum’s claim.

Whether foreign policy becomes a key part of the GOP primary debate remains to be seen. But so far, the accuracy and command of details on foreign policy issues leaves a lot to be desired.

Next on the Chopping Block — Gas Tax

Gas tax may be next Tea Party target

By Steve Hargreaves @CNNMoney August 8, 2011: 4:48 PM ET
Lawmakers may scrap the 18.4-cent-a-gallon federal levy when it expires next month. Can our roads really afford that?

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — You may want to consider investing in some good shock absorbers for your car this fall.

Fresh from blocking any new tax increases during the debt ceiling debacle, some lawmakers in Congress may now oppose renewing the federal tax on gasoline and diesel fuel, which is used to maintain our nation’s highways.

The federal gas tax of 18.4 cents a gallon expires at the end of September. In order to keep the gas tax, lawmakers would need to vote to extend the highway funding bill, which is what the gas tax is tied to.

There are no official efforts to scrap the tax yet but as first noted in the journal Politco, momentum appears to be moving in that direction.

A bill was recently introduced by Senate Republicans that would allow states to opt out of the federal highway program. The highway program uses $32 billion each year collected by the gas tax, plus a handful of smaller fees and some borrowing to distribute some $50 billion a year to the states for road construction, maintenance and mass transit projects.

That represents about 28% of all road and transit spending nationwide, with the rest coming from states or towns in the form of tolls, registration and user fees, state gas taxes or their general funds.

Spendthrift motorists shouldn’t get too excited by the prospect of eliminating the federal gas tax, which costs the average driver around $100 a year. The states would presumably make up for the loss of federal funds by increasing their own gas tax or other driving-related fees.

But for those who support ending the federal levy, the thinking is that the states could do a better job of building and maintaining the nation’s infrastructure.

First there’s the bureaucracy. Why collect the money at the state level, send it to Washington, only to have it return to the states?

Then there’s the question of federal oversight. Federal money often requires the use of union labor or comes with other stipulations.

“The Davis-Bacon law increases the cost of new roads, bridges etc. by 25% to 33%,” Grover Norquist, head of the advocacy group Americans for Tax Reform, said referring to the law that stipulates how much workers on federal projects need to be paid. “Much money is siphoned off to pay union workers in subway systems or to build bike paths….not roads.”

About 15% of federal funds go toward mass transit and other things not road related, according to the Transportation Department.

Norquist didn’t say if he’ll use his considerable influence among Republicans to attempt to kill the gas tax next month, but did say “we should move now, or soon, to allow all states to raise and keep their own gas taxes to build and fix roads.”

Supporters of the tax argue federal involvement allows roads to be built and maintained to uniform standards that ensure the smooth and safe flow of travel and commerce.

Having a patchwork of roads with different weight limits, lane widths, or curvature would be a headache for truckers and possibly dangerous for everyone, said Ken Orski, publisher of the infrastructure industry publication Innovation NewsBriefs and a former transportation official in the Nixon and Ford administrations.

Even if states had to build the roads to a federal standard, Washington still acts as as a kind of equalizer when it comes to highway funding. Under the federal system, states on the coasts with large populations often end up sending money to states in the middle of the country that have thousand of miles of open roads but fewer taxpayers to help fund them.

That makes sense, said Orski, as the roads in the middle of the country take a beating by heavy trucks shipping commerce from one coast to the other.

“We are one nation, and we need a national highway system,” he said.

That helps explain why some big business groups not only want to keep the federal gas tax, but want it raised.

Both the Chamber of Commerce and General Motors (GMFortune 500) have recently come out in favor of a higher gas tax — the latter arguing for a dollar-a-gallon increase.

They note that the 18.4 cent-a-gallon tax hasn’t been raised since 1993, and now has the inflation-adjusted buying power of just 11 cents. Plus, fuel efficiency has been rising steadily each year along with miles driven, meaning Americans are putting more miles on roads while paying less to maintain them.

First Published: August 4, 2011: 12:29 PM ET

American Dream Movement vs. Tea Party

Progressives Say American Dream Movement Rivals Tea Party

Wednesday 10 August 2011
by: Mike Ludwig, Truthout | Report

As Americans face the economic fallout of the recent debt deal in Washington, members of the burgeoning American Dream Movement on Tuesday announced the Contract for the American Dream, a new agenda for economic recovery supported by a grassroots movement that progressive leaders say will rival the Tea Party in size and impact.

The contract is a list of ten sweeping policy proposals drawn from suggestions made by 131,203 Americans who gathered online and in neighborhood meetings to discuss solutions to the nation’s economic woes. The contract demands what Democrats conceded in the recent debt deal: investment in jobs, education and infrastructure and higher taxes on the wealthiest Americans.

MoveOn.org Director Justin Ruben told reporters that most Americans want jobs instead of spending cuts, and the people who contributed to the American dream contract are frustrated with both parties. He said the American Dream Movement has spread from the demonstrations in Wisconsin to a dozen other states where “people are fighting against Republican attacks on the middle class.”

“We’ve been critical of both parties, including the president,” Ruben said. “There is a an enormous opportunity for politicians to step up … because people are desperate.”

The American Dreamers are already being compared to the divisive Tea Party that made countless headlines and shook up the GOP in recent years. Like the Tea Partiers on the right, promoters of the American Dream contract said Washington is out of touch with the views and needs of the rest of America.

“Too many people in Washington are giving up on the American dream, but the American people are not,” Ruben said.

Rebuild the Dream President Van Jones said the American Dream Movement is “real,” unlike the Tea Party, which was created with the help from “Fox News and Koch Brothers.” Jones said the American Dreamers are starting out with twice as many numbers as the Tea Party had in its early days, and the broad grassroots movement could “help DC as a whole do a major reset.”

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Illinois) said that she is working with members of the House progressive caucus to advance the contract’s agenda. Schakowsky recently introduced legislation that would increase spending on new jobs and raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans, but the bills are expected to face strong opposition in a divided Congress.

Schakowsky said the Obama administration has not indicated if it will support the legislation during the next Congressional session.

43% Believe the Tea Party Has Made Things Worse

Poll: Most Democrats See Tea Party as ‘Economic Terrorists’

29 percent of Americans say the Tea Party threatens the economy

Posted: August 8, 2011

With the Democrats and media rapping the Tea Party as economic terrorists during the debt ceiling debate and subsequent S&P downgrade of American debt, a new poll finds that a majority of Democrats agree that the conservative fringe is to blame for the nation’s economic woes, according to a new Rasmussen Reports poll. But just as significantly, when all likely voters are lumped in, including key independents, only 29 percent call the Tea Party “economic terrorists.”

“While 53 percent of Democrats view Tea Party members as terrorists, 57 percent of voters not affiliated with either major party disagree, as do 74 percent of Republicans,” says the poll.

The Tea Party ducks the terrorist label, but the poll isn’t great news because 43 percent believe that party made things worse in the nation during the budget debates.

Highlights of the new poll:

— 55 percent of likely voters say members of the Tea Party are not economic terrorists; 29 percent do and 16 percent are undecided.

— 53 percent of Democrats view Tea Party members as terrorists, 57 percent of voters not affiliated with either major party disagree, as do 74 percent of Republicans.

— 53 percent of Republicans believe the Tea Party has made things better, while 73 percent of Democrats feel it has made things worse. Unaffiliated voters are evenly divided with 37 percent saying the Tea Party made things better and 37 percent worse.

— 34 percent of all voters in separate polling favored tax hikes as part of the deal to raise the debt ceiling; 55 percent opposed including tax increases of any kind in the deal.

— Among those who consider themselves part of the Tea Party movement, 92 percent feel they are not economic terrorists, and 76 percent think they’ve made things better for the country in terms of the budget debate. Those who are not members of the movement are narrowly divided over the terrorist question, and 58 percent of this group think the Tea Party has made things worse for the country.