Thursday, November 29, 2012

Do we "need" to raise "revenue"?

Turn on cable news and you hear Democrats and an ever increasing chorus of Republicans cheer about our need to raise “revenue”. Revenue usually refers to income or earnings, the profit or proceeds from the sale of good or services or one’s labor. It does not often refer to taxes or levies. Yet there go the politicians claiming their entitlement to an ever increasing slice of the proceeds of our work as their reward. Language aside, it seems instructive to ask, what do they really need the money for? Maybe we really do need to pony up for the good of the country. Maybe all we need is a few of those “rich” fellas to kick in a little more.

It turns out that “one time” ‘we have do this since we face the worst economic crisis since the great depression’ “stimulus” is the new federal baseline. In other words, our government has been spending the equivalent of a trillion dollar “stimulus” every year since Barack Obama took office. While it is no surprise our government has been running trillion+ dollar deficits year after year after year, by endorsing the idea that our government needs to collect more “revenue” to pay for this increased spending, politicians are endorsing the belief that we need to continue spending at this increased rate!

Some Republican politicians have suggested that “it’s time to rip the Band-Aid off and reach a deal.” Other Republican pundits have decried that it "won't kill the country if we raise taxes a little bit on millionaires." In fact, raising taxes on the “rich” as Obama has suggested would fund the federal government for a grand total of 8 days at current spending levels. While raising taxes on the “rich” may not “kill the country,” it will not help it much either. What it might do however, is “kill” the Republican Party which will lose its mantle as the party of low taxes and limited government. Further, it will immunize President Obama and Congressional Democrats from blame when the 8 days of new government funding does little to balance the budget or improve the economy.

Though promising voters they would not vote to raise their taxes, some Republican politicians have suggested “the world has changed” from the time they signed their pledge. Yet, some have remarked that “if politicians won't keep their word when they sign their names, what use is what they say when they don't?” The pledge is not a promise politicians made to some “purist” who runs an advocacy group, the pledge is a promise politicians made to the constituents who elected them. That is the fidelity that is being broken when politicians go back on their word.

Where can we begin making serious spending cuts? I challenge GOP lawmakers to read the House Republican Study Committee’s Spending Reduction Act of 2011. It lays out $2.5 trillion in cuts to federal programs most taxpayers have never heard of. This is without even discussing cuts to so-called entitlement programs which conservatives understand need to be reformed.

Rather than increase income tax rates, some Republicans have proposed curtailing deductions on mortgage interest, state and local taxes, and charitable contributions. Ignoring the semantics that eliminating a deduction on which a taxpayer relies is the functional equivalent of raising his income tax rate, decreasing the deduction taxpayers are allowed for mortgage interest will further depress housing prices in an already depressed housing market. Reducing the ability of taxpayers to deduct state and local taxes will amount to double taxation as some of those taxes are taxes on income. Reducing or eliminating the deduction for charitable contributions will result in considerably less holiday cheer for many charitable institutions.

Throughout the year, Tea Partiers traveled to Wisconsin to help a governor survive a recall election in a state that they do not live in. They traveled to Texas in the sweltering summer sun helping to ensure we “extremists” had representation in DC. Many more traveled to Ohio and Virginia because we appreciate that all elections are important as the votes of every politician effect us all. We know who is up for re-election in two years. We are watching and we are coming!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Thankful Thursday

A former teacher and fellow blogger started a tradition in her classroom called Thankful Thursday. She did this because “gratitude is a gift.” She wrote in part,

We need to talk about gratitude more in this country - in our families, in our schools, in our political discussions, in general. The more we recognize how lucky we are for the simple gift of individual liberty or to live under the Constitution, the more opportunities we have to spread the message that it is our job, as citizens and voters, to protect what we are so grateful for.

I was reminded of this the other day when I received an email from a fellow activist. This activist organized fellow patriots from Texas and Tennessee to write personal letters to voters in Virginia and to travel to that state to knock on doors in an effort to persuade voters. In fact, the activist and her 300 fellow volunteers wrote 53,000 such letters and spent nine weekends on the ground in Virginia, on their own dime! As she wrote,

We didn’t have millions of dollars or a Washington office full of highly-paid consultants. We saw a need to help save Virginia and we did everything in our power to do that.

This is what I am thankful for this Thanksgiving and what inspires me for the future. Over the past few years, activists like this woman have seen what is happening and have stepped forward to save our country. We are a growing movement that will not be deterred. As she concluded,

Because of what we accomplished with such few resources, I have hope for America. I have hope that sometime in the future that you will answer the call again. And that next time, more will join us in the fight and we will be victorious! They will be encouraged by our commitment and unwillingness to give up. We can take comfort that only 25% of the American colonists were committed to freedom and single-handedly changed the course of human history.

I have hope too! Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Spirit of the Tea Party


Like you, I was deeply disappointed by the results of last week’s election. It’s taken me a few days to write this message to you. However, you’ve not been far from my thoughts.

As soon as the outcome of the election was apparent, every red-blooded conservative in the country asked, “How did that happen? How could we have lost?”

Most all of us have a fairly long list of what should have happened or what should have been executed better and even what needs to happen next time. And those are all important discussions. However, I wanted all of you to take solace in the fact that you made an important contribution. You Answered The Call. There are continually reasons to not participate in this fight for our nation. You ignored all those obstacles and participated at a greater level than most conservatives in America.

Do you realize what we accomplished together? You wrote more personal postcards than had ever been written in a single effort….ever! Over 53,000! You traveled to Virginia to tirelessly canvass the homes of undecided voters for 9 weekends. Over 300 conservatives from Texas and Tennessee! This was the largest, independent Get-Out-The-Vote effort of red-state activists travelling to a battleground state…..ever! Can you believe that we did that together? We didn’t have Millions of Dollars or have a Washington office full of highly-paid consultants. We saw a need to help save Virginia and we did everything in our power to do that. You Answered The Call.

Because of what we accomplished on so little resources, I have hope for America. I have hope that sometime in the future that you will answer the call again. And that next time, more will join us in the fight and we will be victorious! They will be encouraged by our commitment and unwillingness to give up. We can take comfort that only 25% of the American colonists were committed to freedom and single-handedly changed the course of human history. We know in the Bible, God mostly chose a small contingent to accomplish His work. We don’t need an overwhelming army for God to do His mighty work in America. We just need patriots that will answer the call.

Thank you for answering the call in Virginia. I pray that you will be ready to fight for freedom again.

I can’t thank each of you enough for your efforts. And, thank you for being such an encouragement to me.

God Bless You and May God Bless America.

Lorie Medina
Volunteers for Virginia – Co-Organizer

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Lessons from Philadelphia, What's Next

Over the past four years, FreedomWorks has helped the conservative and libertarian movements grow and thrive. A million people marched on Capitol Hill in 2009. The GOP won a 60+ seat majority in the House in 2010. Freedomworks’ Super PAC raised over $15 million and spearheaded GOTV efforts in Senate races across the country planting yard signs by the truckload as far as the eye can see. Yet, conservatives lost many of the races we cared about most in 2012. 

While it has been argued that the top of our ticket did not inspire some, the fact remains that we did not get our voters to the polls in races we cared about most. If conservatives and libertarians are to achieve a Hostile Takeover of the GOP, we need to elect candidates whose loyalty to principle is greater than their loyalty to party. In order to do that, we need to move beyond being a political movement and become a political operation.

There have been many recriminations over the past week as to the cause of the GOP electoral defeat. Some have suggested the GOP is the Leave it to Beaver party that has failed to keep up with ‘shifting demographics’. Others have pointed to the failure of Mitt Romney’s GOTV software known as Project ORCA. While Project ORCA was clearly a technological failure, the greater failure was that Mitt Romney’s GOTV effort was not localized. The same can be said of Mitt Romney’s voter integrity effort. As an election lawyer in Philadelphia, it does not surprise me that Mitt Romney did not receive a single vote in 59 Philadelphia voting divisions.

From the moment poles opened until well into the afternoon, I observed long lines of voters snaking through polling locations in heavily Democrat neighborhoods of Philadelphia where every voter was handed a card instructing them how to vote. These are similar to the cards that were handed out in heavily Democrat neighborhoods in Bridgeport, CT in 2010. No such lines existed in Republican neighborhoods and similar cards were not handed out to voters asking them to vote for Republican or conservative candidates.

From the time that poles opened until the moment they closed, there was a concerted effort by Philadelphia voting officials to weigh their thumbs on the scale of the election. Democrats fought efforts to seat Republican voting inspectors despite being presented with court orders to do so. In one instance, an election judge and the Democrat voting inspectors abandoned their polling location for the entire day, upset at being forced to work alongside Republican inspectors. I observed multiple instances of electioneering inside polling locations and had to return to the same polling locations on multiple occasions to chase electioneers away. I was even forced to instruct an election judge not to ‘pull the lever’ for a voter. When election judges were informed of electioneering inside their polling locations, they often pled ignorance or lack of responsibility notwithstanding instructions to the contrary from the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office.

It is no longer sufficient for conservatives to drive the ideological agenda yet rely on party officials to drive GOTV and voter integrity efforts. Grassroots conservatives and independent groups must fund and organize these initiatives with the same level of urgency that liberal groups do. I observed two union painters asking for a receipt after they voted. When offered an ‘I voted’ sticker, they demurred insisting that the election judge provide them with a written receipt for having voted so their union boss could pay them for their time. Unions and liberal interest groups are reliable Democrat voters because they have significant economic interests at stake. Taxpayers, however, have just as much at stake as they are the ones footing the bills. Yet, taxpayers have not behaved with the same degree of urgency.

In my experience, the Republican party has done a poor job organizing, planning and funding GOTV and election integrity efforts. It is time for grassroots conservatives and independent groups to step in if we are to save our country. Grassroots conservatives cannot merely register at True the Vote and watch polls in their own neighborhood. They must be vigilant in the prevention of fraud in neighborhoods where fraud traditionally occurs in states and elections where the stakes are highest. Grassroots conservatives must staff, fund, plan and organize these efforts with the same level of care and commitment that unions and liberal interest groups do.

Barack Obama needed a 450,000 vote margin in Philadelphia to defeat Mitt Romney by 300,000 votes in Pennsylvania. Barack Obama needed a 240,000 vote margin in Cleveland to defeat Mitt Romney by 100,000 votes in Ohio. If conservatives do not want Cleveland and Philadelphia to continue to decide elections, let this serve as a wake-up call. Otherwise, America is destined to become a nation of Clevelands and Philadelphias.