Tip of the iceberg
That’s the phrase I’ve been using for months to describe the Tea Party (TP) activists you see at protests. They represent a small portion of those who actually identify themselves with the TP movement. Rasmussen, today, releases a poll which confirms the assertion:
Twenty-four percent (24%) of U.S. voters now say they consider themselves a part of the Tea Party movement, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. That’s an eight-point increase from 16% a month ago.
That is a significant chunk of voters. Note too the 8 point increase from a month ago? What was it that was passed into law a month ago? So there is proof that the passage of HCR didn’t at all cause the populist fire abate, but instead fueled it even more. Why is that? Rich Lowry gives as good a summation as anyone:
The tea-party movement is an act of pre-emption, based on the simple calculation that higher spending eventually means higher taxes. For all the tsk-tsking about its supposed irresponsibility, the movement is attuned to the future in a way that the president — who hopes to evade or hide the consequences of his budgetary choices for as long as possible — is not.
And the passage of HCR in the face of the TP outcry only added to the frustration the people are feeling. It also added to those who identifed themselves with the TP. Obviously, then the demonization of TP isn’t being terribly effective, is it?
Of course, as Lowry implies, the TP members figured out long ago what HCR really meant in terms of the size and scope of government and consequently what has to happen to pay for it. Lowry points out that the expiring Bush tax cuts will raise about $700 billion over 10 years – half the amount of the deficit for this year alone. So where will the rest come from? Obviously not from the rich.
So we hear whispers now of a VAT. And the bipartisan commission will certainly suggest all sorts of “revenue enhancers.” The Tea Partiers saw this coming, and so will the general electorate. The expiration of the Bush tax cuts and the prospect of many more tax hikes will be up for debate in the midterm elections. And having violated their pledge not to tax those making less than $200,000 to pay for health care, Democrats are poorly situated to defend middle-class taxpayers.
There was talk for some time that the tax issue had faded. Republicans would have nothing to argue about, claimed the mainstream pundits. But alas, like so much else, Obama has done a yeoman’s work for conservatives. The tax issue is back. In a big way.
The 24% now identified with the TP (and, I’d guess another 5% who don’t formally identify themselves with the TP but do indeed share their beliefs) have known this was coming and are now being proven correct. The Democrats think HCR will fade from the public’s mind by the time the mid-term elections roll around in November. I don’t happen to share that belief (and this poll tells you why), but even if it did, look at the issue that won’t fade – the question that must continue to be asked by the TP and GOP is “how are we going to pay for all of this?” And use every means available to confront Democrats with that question and demand an answer. My guess is if they’ll do that, the TP numbers may swell to an even greater percentage by November and turn over the House.
But back to the title – Democrats reading the Rasmussen poll should understand one very important thing – each time you call the members of the TP things such as thugs, racists, homophobes, nazis, brownshirts and fascists, you’re addressing 25% of the voters. And yes, they will and have taken that personally. Great strategy – please, keep it up.