Jim DeMint, Republican U.S. Senator from South Carolina, serving since 2005, is known to some as the ‘Tea Party Kingmaker”, or the ‘Tea Party Patriot.” He is a driving force behind the forthcoming “Tea Party Republican Debate”, scheduled for September 12, in Tampa. Tampa is to be the host city for the 2012 Republican National Convention. Senator DeMint is in the process of making a few changes. The Tea Party, he now says, is not a single group, rather is comprised of hundreds of groups of “citizen activists,” who have only a few demands. One concern is the demand for less taxation. In fact, the members want less taxation for the major corporations; the same corporations I humbly point out that benefit when American servicemen fight to keep the Suez Canal open, and the same corporations who profit from availability of global trade, an availability which they take for granted. These activists are clearly incensed that temporary tax breaks to the large corporations aren’t made permanent. Another matter of prime concern is spending, a poor economy, and an ever increasing national debt.
Senator DeMint has a number of bones to pick. He insists that a vast percentage of those Americans now receiving unemployment insurance are merely sitting back, reeling in the benefits. When the benefits run dry, they will get up and go to work. Therefore, DeMint will make one of his goals the end of extensions to unemployment insurance.
The Tea Party conservatives seem to think the word “conservative” implies short hair and white shirts. “Conservative” in many minds equals “religious.” In fact the rule of thumb is simple to remember: a liberal strives for liberal rights for citizens. A conservative would allow the citizens only conservative rights. Yet the Tea Party claims to have the best interests of the people at hand.
DeMint’s conservative activists are convinced they are frustrated by regulations. One of the major sets of regulations these folks oppose is the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. The congress of 2009-2010 passed this “bill to promote the financial stability of the United States by improving accountability and transparency in the financial system, to end ‘too big to fail’, to protect the American taxpayer by ending bailouts, to protect consumers from abusive financial services practices, and for other purposes.” The bill was sponsored by Rep Barney Frank (D MD), signed by President Barack Obama, and passed all congress by a wide majority. Voters will recall that at the time of the passage, transparency and accountability were held in sacred high esteem by most involved voters and legislators.
Among the provisions:
- Creates a new independent watchdog, housed at the Federal Reserve, with the authority to ensure American consumers get the clear, accurate information they need to shop for mortgages, credit cards, and other financial products, and protect them from hidden fees, abusive terms, and deceptive practices.
- Eliminates loopholes that allow risky and abusive practices to go on unnoticed and unregulated — including loopholes for over-the-counter derivatives, asset-backed securities, hedge funds, mortgage brokers and payday lenders.
- Provides shareholders with a say on pay and corporate affairs with a non-binding vote on executive compensation and golden parachutes.
- Provides tough new rules for transparency and accountability for credit rating agencies to protect investors and businesses.
- Strengthens oversight and empowers regulators to aggressively pursue financial fraud, conflicts of interest and manipulation of the system that benefits special interests at the expense of American families and businesses.
A thoughtful individual would have to wonder why any citizen would balk at such corporate regulation. In fact it seems odd that any legitimate corporation should put up such resistance. These changes don’t require an expenditure of money, they don’t require costly changes. At best the corporations involved might have to hire a few clerical employees, and an executive or two to mandate compliance.
Point is, under DeMint’s tutelage the Tea Party favors negation of the Wall Street Reform and Protection Act.
The Tea Party is convinced that Obama is wasting the dollars of American Taxpayers when he stimulates a failing economy with Job Programs. There is some precedent. In 1939, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, coming face to face with the Great Depression, created the WPA Work Projects Administration as part of a “New Deal”, employing millions of unskilled workers to build roads and public buildings, including parks and schools, in rural and Western areas. Provisions were made for arts, drama, media, and literacy projects. Children were fed and clothed. In nearly every community was a school or road, or public building constructed by the WPA.
At the beginning, in 1935, the WPA budget was 1.4 billion a year, over all, the total spent was about 13.4 billion. In 1938 jobs were provided for 3 million men, some women and youths. Between 1935 and 1942, eight million jobs were provided. The stated goal of the WPA was to provide one job for each family in which the breadwinner was experiencing long term unemployment. Most people who needed a job were eligible. No more than 30 hours could be worked by any worker in one week.
Depressions can be devastating and they don’t end of their own accord. We hope that the Republicans, the Tea Party, the citizen activists won’t continue to oppose the president’s every plan. We further hope that the grass root citizens will take the time to form for themselves some ideology, for a basis for reasoning and action. For those good Americans who just want to get out there and “do something!” there’s no need to worry. The future will provide more than enough opportunity for citizen participation. Now is the time to study, and to think.