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The Tea Party Protesters are Right
The Tea Party Protesters are Right
April 17, 2009
Originally published in Opposing Views
Tea party protests questioned the constitutionality of some of the massive bailouts over the past year, which amount to trillions of dollars. That drew bizarre attacks from leftists, who argue that these peaceful protests will somehow lead to another terrorist incident like the Oklahoma City bombing, and that the tea party protesters, like the Founding Fathers, are just a reactionary “bunch of white males who didn’t want to pay their taxes.”
Not all of the bailouts are illegal or unconstitutional, but some of them are. Some bailouts were sweeping, standardless grants of authority to spend money that violate the non-delegation doctrine, a Constitutional separation-of-powers safeguard enforced by the Supreme Court in the 1935 Schechter Poultry case. Others were never authorized by Congress.
For example, the auto bailout was either illegal or unconstitutional. Even Andrew Sullivan, a critic of the tea parties, reached that conclusion. So have liberal commentators like Clinton Administration Labor Secretary Robert Reich and conservative commentators like the Heritage Foundation and George Will. I earlier explained why the bailout is illegal or unconstitutional: either the bank bailout bill didn’t confer such vast discretion to spend money that it could be diverted to an auto bailout (in which case the auto bailout was illegal), or it did (in which case the bank bailout bill was itself an unconstitutional violation of separation of powers).
A similar auto bailout in Britain failed miserably, wasting billions in the process.
There was a bomb threat recently, but it wasn’t from conservatives or libertarians, but rather an advocate for illegal aliens. So much for the Obama Administration’s baseless suggestion that the next terrorist attack may come from opponents of illegal immigration or supporters of federalism.
Other criticisms of the tea party protests also were baseless. They have been criticized for supposedly offering no solutions or constructive suggestions about how to cut spending. But they have specifically identified two massive spending programs that need to be cut. The first is Obama’s $800 billion stimulus package, which was falsely sold to the public as needed to prevent “irreversible decline,” but which the Congressional Budget Office repeatedly pointed out would actually shrink the economy “in the long run.” The second is the Obama Administration’s mortgage bailout, which would benefit even high-income people with modest mortgages (scroll down to this protester’s “I can’t afford your mortgage” sign).
For having the temerity to protest Administration lies and out-of-control spending, the protesters have been attacked elsewhere in the most vicious terms as “redneck, racist Republicons” and as “a bunch of white old people and rednecks” who “got together and tried to start a revolution…to drive the Fascist/Communist n****r out of the White House and stop the fags from stealing their children.” As a Harvard-educated urban dweller with a multiracial family, whose office hosted the end of the Washington tea party, I find these claims baffling.
Andrew Sullivan dismisses the tea parties as “opposition to the Obama administration’s spending plans, manned by people who made no serious objections to George W. Bush’s.”
I certainly made “serious objections to George W. Bush’s” spending plans. I condemned his costly prescription-drug entitlement in the Washington Times, and repeatedly condemned the $160 billion Bush “stimulus rebates” in 2008. I called his $700 billion Wall Street “bailout bill dangerous, inflationary, unnecessary, and unconstitutional.” And I condemned his multibillion dollar auto bailout.