Teabaggers and protesting the bailout

Matt Taibi weighs in again on the Teabaggers:

So yeah, government waste sucks, it’s rampant at every level, and taxes are a vicious racket, and everyone should be pissed off . What’s hilarious about the teabaggers, though, is how they never squawk about waste until the spending actually has a chance of benefiting them. You will never hear of a teabagger crying about OPIC giving $50 million in free insurance to some mining company so that they can dig for silver in rural Bolivia. You won’t hear of a teabagger protesting the $2.5 billion in Ex-Im loans we gave to GE through the early part of this decade, even as GE was moving nearly a hundred thousand jobs overseas over the course of ten years. And Michelle Malkin’s readers didn’t seem to mind giving IBM millions in Ex-IM and ATP loans at the same time it was giving its former CEO, Lou Gerstner, $260 million in stock options.

Matt Taibi: Teabagging Michelle Malkin

One quibble: “In other words, it wasn’t until taxes turned into construction jobs and mortgage relief that working and middle-class Americans decided to protest.”

I’m sure at least SOME of the people who protested the bailout back in September (that seems like a lifetime ago, doesn’t it?) were middle class. Actually, I’m willing to bet most of them were. I think Taibi means right wing middle class Americans. I’m sure at least a few of them turned out in September as well, actually, but not in the numbers they’re turning out to protest having their roads and bridges repaired.

Also, there have been tax resister demonstrations on tax day for YEARS. But again, I don’t think they turned out people in these volumes.

Sadly, I haven’t been able to drudge up any numbers about how many people turned up the September protests (let alone how many of them were of the right wing persuasion). Nate Silver has some numbers about the teabaggers though.

One more quote from Taibi:

Oh, and there’s one other thing. I heard today from Steve Wamhoff of Citizens for Tax Justice. He had an interesting tidbit to offer on the teabagging movement. According to his research, 39% of respondents with incomes below $30,000 told the Gallup agency that they felt that federal income tax levels were “too high.” Which is interesting, because only 32% of respondents in that income category will pay any federal income taxes at all on their 2008 income. You can draw your own conclusions.


  1. Am I the only one on earth who knows what “teabagging” is?


  2. Um, hate to break it to you internet libertarians, but the the tea baggers are astroturfed by the Kochtopus. You all know that when you argue for less regulations on competition and barriers to entry and less taxes, the guys who fund the Cato Institute really only are going for one of those, right?

    @Joshua: there’s been a slight causality error in the time/mediascape, so yes

  3. Klint: good point (and I’d say correct) that there have been tax protests for years. The ‘Poll Tax Riots’ in the UK (1990) were pretty remarkable. I have an anarchist-made documentary about that I should show some time.

    In the 1980s when I first read the words “tax protester” the term was inherently tied to racism. I think ‘tax protester’ used to be a term associated with ‘militia,’ ‘survivalist,’ ‘separatist,’ ‘gun nut,’ etc. I read the term in the small press of the 1980s, particularly in Loompanics catalogs and some anarchist periodicals. Either anti-tax-protesters were smearing tax protesters with the term or tax protesters were saying they weren’t racists (or were). Racism isn’t any more popular now than it was then, but the term tax protester seems to have shaken off the negative association.

  4. From the comment by Telarus on this post http://renegadefuturist.com/archives/2009/04/11/oregon-subsidizes-wal-mart-to-the-tune-of-4-million/comment-page-1/#comment-296591

    “If the ‘teabaggers’ were serious about emulating the Boston Tea Party, they’d be gutting Walmarts and dumping the merchandise in the Willamette. the whole point of the Boston Tea Party wasn’t taxes, it was the fact that the East India Company didn’t have to pay tariffs or fees to import their tea, but the locals did have to pay tariffs and fees to sell LOCALLY GROWN TEA. See the parallel now?”

  5. Militias, survivalists, and yes, tax resistors can be seen as part of right wing populism as a whole (right wing populism certainly contains a racist component as well).

    Since the beginning of the Iraq War, at least, right wing tax resistors and left wing war protesters have actually been collaborating on tax-day protests.

    Thanks to the teabag movement, this alliance may be over – I’m not sure.

    Looking through pictures from the teabag protests, there is indeed a strong racist element among the protesters.

  6. And before anyone puts words into my mouth: I’m not saying that all right wing populists are racist, nor that everyone involved in one component of right wing populism is a right wing populist.

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