Thursday, April 16, 2009

Tea Parties and Progress: Protests should rely less on Republicans and find new common ground

I didn't join in the tea parties held here and across the nation yesterday.

I've never viewed tax day as a bad day, even though I paid my highest tax bill ever yesterday. But I had a great year financially with one-time gains I can only thank God for, not myself.

I've also view April 15 as an opportunity to say thanks for being born in the greatest nation in the world with the greatest opportunity for individual advancement and unchallenged religious liberty.

I also see it as a chance to invest in our military, and in the lives of loved ones like Marine Sgt. Zachary Ross of Nashville, my nephew Victor Chavez in the Navy and my cousin, Maj. Andrew Ferguson, in the Army.

These men along with women protect my freedom to have money on tax day to pay the government. Our debt to them can never be repaid.

Ultimately, it is nothing we really do that creates that wealth under which we live and for which we are taxed. It is all a matter of fate, or more specifically God's blessings, that one had two, great working parents as role models, or one didn't get cancer at 24 or terminal leukemia like me at 47, or there wasn't a drunken driver on the road at the same time when you were coming home tired from working all evening.

So I've always seen my ability to pay on April 15 as a wonderful blessing.

And it is on that point that it probably wasn't the greatest idea to hold tax protests on April 15. There is and should remain a big difference in paying for the workings of our government and blessings of being an American versus the bad direction we see current economic policy taking our country.

My protest would be one upon which conservatives and liberals could agree: that government should not be bailing out the financial industry and the automakers and whomever has the lobbyists and aides inside the Obama administration.

If you bail out one industry, then you bail out every American. The President's explanation that we receive eight dollars in return for every dollar invested in bailing out the financial industry just doesn't compute when AIG keeps coming back for more and Well Fargo says it doesn't have the $50 billion to pay back taxpayers.

Bailing out General Motors would become the same black hole.

We can call this socialism or corporate welfare. But it is wrong. And liberals and conservatives do agree on this point.

So if there are going to be tea parties, they need to be more focused. And Republicans do not need to be leading them, because their party was in control of things in Washington when spending got out of control under G.W. Bush. Obama has simply aggravated the problem, but this time with a Great Recession on his hands.

Seeing the same old anti-income tax faces at the state Capitol in Nashville was a real turn off. Marsha Blackburn, Steve Gill and Phil Valentine represent no needed change. Neither does the Republican Party.

Tea parties should be based on fundamental political change, which means alignment with no political party but the formation of a new one.

It should be dedicated to no bailouts. It should be dedicated to encouraging and protecting needed individualism in American public policy. And when the matter comes to needed research on the cost of policy change such as with universal health care, it should be there to provides the pluses and minuses to the American people.

It should not be intertwined with abortion, immigration or any other trade off issue just how American households would be hurt financially or helped. It should discourage class warfare.

I still believe the best policy is to leave as much money in the hands of the American people as possible to spend, since two-thirds of our GDP comes from consumer spending.

But when we can prove that an industry is fleecing the American people such as with health care, policy must adjust, address and regulate that industry and allow the American people to keep as much of their money as possible when they are sick. That is when they need it most, and that is when the fear factor weighs heaviest.

I truly believe there are enormous savings that can be garnered from the insurance companies, drug companies and the doctors if all are forced to sacrifice as the American people are now.

All households seem to be losing financial ground. Health care costs are one big reason.

Tea parties must not just be against everything, but also support aggressive measures that recoup money for American households. That's why Republicans taking advantage of the moment have little credibility when they had a president of their party in charge for eight years.

I love the power of people to protest. But such outcries ultimately must become more focused on definite steps to take to correct current policy and also to agree with it -- as with the huge savings that will come to each American household from health care reform.

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