Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Tea Party Primer

This was posted by Greg Mild on April 17, 2011. In it he compares the stated beliefs of the Ohio Tea Party with current pieces of legislation in Ohio.

"I actually have an old friend who will still talk politics with me.  We don't see each other very often, and I think we both try to avoid it at first, but one of us inevitably opens the door for the conversation to begin.  While I would classify Steve as a moderate Republican, he describes himself as and Independent.  I would self-identify a moderate Democrat moving left, while Steve would probably label me as someone who needs a better filter between my brain and my mouth.  I have little factual evidence to challenge him on this.
So imagine our surprise when, while discussing Senate Bill 5, we simultaneously expressed confusion over the Tea Party's strong support.  We were at a loss as to how the "small government" Tea Party rationalizes the concept of the state diminishing the authority of local governments as included in the legislation.  Steve and I agreed that the bargaining restrictions contained in the bill amounted to the state exerting control over local areas; an exercise in the concept of "big government" control.

It was then that I determined that I needed to find out more about the Tea Party.  I needed to understand what the rationale was behind these decisions.  If I was going to be able to engage Tea Partiers in discussions, I needed to find out what they believe in and what their goals are.  And I needed to do so by going to the sources, The Tea Party Patriots, the "Official Home of the Tea Party Movement" and FreedomWorks, "Founded in 1984, and headquartered in Washington, DC, with hundreds of thousands of grassroots volunteers nationwide." 

From what I have read, I don't think the Tea Party members I've encountered in Ohio actually know what they believe.

FreedomWorks Mission:

FreedomWorks fights for lower taxes, less government and more economic freedom for all Americans.
Chairman Dick Armey: “What should be your guide? The Constitution.”

Government is too big and spends too much of our money. A strong and vibrant free market economy - free from burdensome taxation and regulation - offers the best hope for creating opportunity and improving the quality of life for every American.

The Flat Tax
The current tax code is a 60,000-page catalog of favors for special interests and a chamber of horrors for the rest of America. We want to scrap our confusing, unfair tax code and replace it with a simple flat tax of one low rate with no deductions or special interest loopholes. We also want lower taxes at the federal, state, and local levels.

We want Americans to be able to use the free market to choose the care that suits their individual needs. We believe that government should not gain more control over healthcare.  Frivolous lawsuits and bureaucratic waste add to the cost of health insurance.

Red Tape, Hidden Taxes, & Regulation
We want to end burdensome government regulation and rely on the marketplace as an efficient regulator of business activity.

Tea Party Patriots Core Values:

Fiscal Responsibility: Fiscal Responsibility by government honors and respects the freedom of the individual to spend the money that is the fruit of their own labor. A constitutionally limited government, designed to protect the blessings of liberty, must be fiscally responsible or it must subject its citizenry to high levels of taxation that unjustly restrict the liberty our Constitution was designed to protect.

Constitutionally Limited Government: We, the members of The Tea Party Patriots, are inspired by our founding documents and regard the Constitution of the United States to be the supreme law of the land. We believe that it is possible to know the original intent of the government our founders set forth, and stand in support of that intent. Like the founders, we support states' rights for those powers not expressly stated in the Constitution. As the government is of the people, by the people and for the people, in all other matters we support the personal liberty of the individual, within the rule of law.

Free Markets: A free market is the economic consequence of personal liberty. The founders believed that personal and economic freedom were indivisible, as do we. Our current government's interference distorts the free market and inhibits the pursuit of individual and economic liberty. Therefore, we support a return to the free market principles on which this nation was founded and oppose government intervention into the operations of private business. 

Tea Party Patriots Philosophy:

 Tea Party Patriots, Inc. is a non-partisan grassroots organization of individuals united by our core values derived from the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States of America, the Bill Of Rights as explained in the Federalist Papers.
 Excerpt from The Federalist Papers #84:
The last objection of any consequence, which I at present recollect, turns upon the article of expense. If it were even true, that the adoption of the proposed Government would occasion a considerable increase of expense, it would be an objection that ought to have no weight against the plan. . . . the question of expense must be given up; for it is impossible, with any degree of safety, to narrow the foundation upon which the system is to stand. The two branches of the Legislature are, in the first instance, to consist of only sixty-five persons, which is the same number of which congress, under the existing Confederation, may be composed. It is true, that this number is intended to be increased; but this is to keep pace with the progress of the population and resources of the country. It is evident that a less number would, even in the first instance, have been unsafe; and that a continuance of the present number would, in a more advanced stage of population, be a very inadequate representation of the People.

The result from these observations is . . . that a Government less expensive would be incompetent to the purposes of the Union.

Let us now see what there is to counterbalance any extra expense that may attend the establishment of the proposed Government. The first thing which presents itself is, that a great part of the business which now keeps Congress sitting through the year, will be transacted by the President. 

 Excerpt from The Federalist Papers #85:
The result of the deliberations of all collective bodies, must necessarily be a compound as well of the errors and prejudices, as of the good sense and wisdom of the individuals of whom they are composed. The compacts which are to embrace thirteen distinct States, in a common bond of amity and union, must as necessarily be a compromise of as many dissimilar interests and inclinations. How can perfection spring from such materials?

"To balance a large State or society," (says he,) "whether monarchical or republican, on general laws, is a work of so great difficulty, that no human genius, however comprehensive, is able by the mere dint of reason and reflection, to effect it. The judgments of many must unite in the work; Experience must guide their labor; Time must bring it to perfection; and the feeling of inconveniences must correct the mistakes which they inevitably fall into, in their first trials and experiments." These judicious reflections contain a lesson of moderation to all the sincere lovers of the Union, and ought to put them upon their guard against hazarding anarchy, civil war, a perpetual alienation of the States from each other, and perhaps the military despotism of a victorious demagogue, in the pursuit of what they are not likely to obtain, but from time and experience. . . . A Nation, without a National Government, is, in my view, an awful spectacle. The establishment of a Constitution, in time of profound peace, by the voluntary consent of a whole People, is a prodigy, to the completion of which I look forward with trembling anxiety . . . I know that powerful individuals, in this and in other States, are enemies to a general National Government in every possible shape.
  1. The Tea Party believe that "favors for special interests" should be removed from the Government. 
  2. The Tea Party believes that "Our current government's interference distorts the free market" and they "oppose government intervention into the operations of private business." 
  3. The Tea Party "believe[s] that government should not gain more control over healthcare."
  4. The Tea Party opposes "burdensome government regulation."
  5. I recommend that the Tea Party consider reading the Constitution and Federalist Papers to better align their mission and values with these guiding documents.
TEA PARTY DISCOVERY #1: Statement vs. Practice
 1.  They believe that "favors for special interests" should be removed from the Government. 

In practice, that would mean that Tea Party members could be counted on to be vocal opponents of the inclusion of Teach for America (by name) into Ohio law.  The Tea Party should be even more incensed by the Governor trying to pull a fast one and add Teach for America a second time through his Jobs Budget (Reform Book, p. 5).  One could also expect the party to be vocal opponents of the Governor's expansion of the community school program and the redistribution of tax dollars to these entities that already siphon off state tax money from public (the people's) schools.
And during his campaign, John Kasich stated "you can't be in a position where somebody's your buddy so that you give them something special." (  As a result, the Tea Party should be picketing the Statehouse daily over Kasich's hiring of Jai Chabria and Mark Kvamme, two of his buddies.

TEA PARTY DISCOVERY #2: Statement vs. Practice
2.  The Tea Party believes that "Our current government's interference distorts the free market" and they "oppose government intervention into the operations of private business." 
I would like to submit five items into evidence for this statement:

1. Bob Evans CEO Steve Davis said the company has simply outgrown its South High Street location, and needs more room.  "We seriously considered re-locating to Texas, where we own land, and where we have our food products campus," Davis said. "We could have moved anywhere. We have the financial where withal to go anywhere, but I lived through situations where people lost jobs and that was not going to happen here."
He said along with incentives offered by New Albany, an $11.8-million incentive package offered by the Kasich administration played a key role in the company's decision.  Kasich said that the state is bleeding jobs, and tax incentives will be necessary to keep companies like Bob Evans in the state.

2. American Greetings Corp. has decided to keep its world headquarters in Northeast Ohio, a move that drew praise from local leaders but also touched off a potential bidding war among communities that want to attract the Fortune 1000 employer. The 105-year-old greeting card maker rejected the possibility of moving to Illinois but said Monday that it has not decided whether to remain in Brooklyn or move to another suburb.  Ohio will provide a package of grants, loans and tax rebates worth a potential $93.5 million over 15 years to keep American Greetings here. Some of the incentives will come through tax reform legislation Gov. John Kasich signed into law Monday at American Greetings' headquarters.

3. [Kasich] did, however, tout his 'Jobs Ohio' plan as a way to bolster business and reduce unemployment. The plan would essentially privatize the Ohio Department of Development and create a new, private Economic Development Board for the state.  Kasich said, "Because you get smart people in business who are talking to people in business and convincing them this is a great place to do things and can talk to them about there needs so we can respond to them." The governor says his plan, along with incentives for new business will get Ohio where it needs to be to be more competitive with other states. (

4. The bill that would allow Gov. John Kasich to transform the Department of Development into a private, nonprofit corporation drew plenty of questions from lawmakers yesterday about the transparency and oversight of an entity that could hand out more than a $1billion a year in business incentives. (

5. To better serve the people of Ohio, the legislature passed House Bill 1, creating JobsOhio, which is a nonprofit public/private partnership designed to make traditional economic development its sole focus. The bill, signed by Governor John Kasich, will remove governmental barriers and allow JobsOhio to move at the speed of business, creating a faster, more efficient entity that will create and save Ohio jobs and improve the state’s return on investment. (Book One: The Budget Book, State of Ohio)

These five examples should have the Tea Party leading the charge to institute a recall provision for the Ohio Governor.  At the very least, the Tea Party should be boycotting John Kasich's every move.

TEA PARTY DISCOVERY #3: Statement vs. Practice
 3. They "believe that government should not gain more control over healthcare."

Americans for Prosperity, another Tea Party nonprofit organization, hosted a Town Hall meeting in Marietta, Ohio, to discuss Senate Bill 5.  "At one point during the meeting, Sen. Jimmy Stewart, R-Athens, talked about aspects of Senate Bill 5 and the state budget that will help local school districts cope with the cuts at the state level.  He pointed out that part of SB 5 requires that all government employees pay a minimum of 15 percent of their health care premiums.  Additionally, he said health care pooling is one part of the state budget, and it would require that all 600 school districts in the state have the same health care policy, resulting in $150 million savings per year across all 600 districts." (

If the state passes a law that requires all public workers to contribute a uniform percentage and also requires that they all participate in a health care pool, regardless of the desires of the local government and it's citizens, that sounds like a government gaining "more control over healthcare."  I guess Americans for Prosperity didn't get the memo.

Consider these excepts from Governor Kasich's Budget Books:
  • "The Executive Budget 'elevates' to the state the financial responsibility for community behavioral health."
  • "The combined impact . . . gives DODD (Department of Developmental Disabilities) more authority and control to design programs"
Those both sound to me like a government gaining "more control over healthcare."  So where are the Tea Party activists?

TEA PARTY DISCOVERY #4: Statement vs. Practice
4. The Tea Party opposes "burdensome government regulation."

The Tea Party members in Ohio ( apparently forgot about their opposition to goals of "less government" and "more economic freedom" as they rallied in support of the following items from Senate Bill 5 that limit the rights of local Boards of Education, elected by local citizens (The People), as they work to employ local citizens (The People) who are educating the children of local citizens (The People):
  • Prohibits public employees from striking.
  • Expands the list of subjects that are inappropriate for collective bargaining.
  • Prohibits an existing provision of a collective bargaining agreement that was modified, renewed, or extended that does not concern wages, hours, and terms and conditions from being a mandatory subject of collective bargaining.
  • Prohibits an agreement from containing a provision that requires as a condition of employment that the nonmembers of the employee organization pay to the employee organization a fair share fee.
  • Prohibits a collective bargaining agreement entered into or renewed on or after the bill's effective date from containing provisions limiting a public employer's ability to privatize operations.
  • Prohibits a collective bargaining agreement entered into or renewed on or after the bill's effective date from containing provisions for certain types of leave to accrue above listed amounts or to pay out for sick leave at a rate higher than specified amounts.
  • Eliminates the ability of the parties to submit disputes to an agreed‐upon dispute resolution procedure.
  • Eliminates the final offer settlement procedure.
  • Requires any agreement determined by the legislative body to be in effect for three years.
  • Requires, if the legislative body fails to select a last best offer, the public employer's last best offer to become the agreement between the parties.
  • Eliminates statutory salary schedules and steps.
  • Requires performance-based pay for teachers based, in part, on evaluations conducted under a policy that is based on a framework for teacher evaluations that has been recommended by the Superintendent of Public Instruction and adopted by the State Board of Education.
  • Caps vacation leave for certain public employees at 7.7 hours per biweekly pay period and limits total accrual for those public employees currently accruing 9.2 hours per pay period.
  • Reduces sick leave accrual for most public employees from 4.6 hours to 3.1 hours per biweekly pay period.
  • Limits public employer contributions toward health care benefit costs to 85%.
  • Requires boards of education to adopt policies to provide leave with pay for school employees and abolishes statutorily provided leave for those employees.
  • Abolishes continuing contracts for teachers, except for those continuing contracts in existence prior to the effective date of the bill and revises the law relating to limited contracts.
  • Prohibits a public employer from paying employee contributions to the five public employee retirement systems.
  • Requires health care benefits provided through a jointly administered trust fund to be the same as the health care benefits provided to other public employees.(
And in case that wasn't enough to raise the ire of the Tea Party members, then Kasich's greater emphasis on the use of standardized tests for students should really get them going.  The Governor will be using standardized statewide assessments to judge the performance of school districts and teachers who work in local communities, most of which actually provide the bulk of the funding.  Why would a local community allow a minority stakeholder, big government, to control the education of their children?

And why, exactly, is the Tea Party cheering on this effort?

This leads me to my final discovery:

TEA PARTY DISCOVERY #5: Statement vs. Practice
5. I recommend that the Tea Party consider reading the Constitution and Federalist Papers to better align their mission and values with these guiding documents.

Have pity for these lost souls and kindly direct them to review their core values. I would like to emphasize an excerpt from the Federalist Papers, #85 as evidence.

The judgments of many must unite in the work; Experience must guide their labor; Time must bring it to perfection; . . . ought to put them upon their guard against . . . military despotism of a victorious demagogue . . . I know that powerful individuals, in this and in other States, are enemies to a general National Government in every possible shape.

If we can get the Tea Party to understand these words that serve as a part of their philosophy, it may help.  These words highlight three key points:

First, collective bargaining that involves time and experience is an underlying principle of the Constitution of The United States of America.

Second, the Tea Party needed to be more vigilant in watching for Kasich the demagogue.

Last, Alexander Hamilton tried to warn us in 1787 that the Koch Brothers were bad news to us all.

So the next time you encounter a Tea Party member at a rally and they try to engage you in a shouting match, gently remind them that they have no idea what they are talking about and hand them a copy of their Mission, Core Values, and Philosophy.  Then smile, hand them your Pro-Union button, and welcome them to our side."