Wednesday, July 27, 2011

It's almost midnight. Do you know where your vote is?

"No taxation without representation" was the battle cry of the early American patriots who contributed the name of the Tea Party to American lore. Their 21st century imitators have reached the rather odd conclusion that having representation should exempt them from taxation.
The fiscal doomsday clock is about to strike midnight! Do you know where your vote is? Many of your elected officials gave it away to a special interest group that does not have your best interest at heart. There is no greater abdication of personal responsibility than the so-called “Pledge.” This document is the set of handcuffs, leaving us with neither representation nor the political wherewithal to avoid fiscal crisis.
Taxpayer Protection Pledge I, _____, pledge to the taxpayers of the (____ district of the) state of ______ and to the American people that I will: ONE, oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rate for individuals and business; and TWO, oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates.
To his credit Wyoming Senator John Barrasso refused to sign. However, Senator Mike Enzi and Representative Cynthia Lummis are among 235 House members and 41 Senators who have signed.
Senator Enzi and Representative Lummis and most of their colleagues have mortgaged their ability to represent us by signing away the vote with which we entrusted them. Those votes don’t belong to them, they belong to you. Those votes are a sacred trust and are not Enzi’s and Lummis’ to give away. We “entrusted” them with the right to vote in our best interests and instead they signed the right away to a special interest group.
To whom did they give our votes? To a group with a rather lofty name, “Americans for Tax Reform (ATR)” headed by Grover Norquist.  ATR not only opposes all tax increases but also opposes healthcare reform, efforts to halt climate change, and weakening of workers’ rights.  A June 2006 report from the Senate Indian Affairs Committee on the Jack Abramoff scandal alleged ATR was a "conduit" for funds that flowed from Abramoff's clients to finance surreptitiously grass-roots lobbying campaigns.
ATR is so doctrinaire, its web site today includes a demand that Republican senators working as members of the “Gang of 6” halt efforts to avoid a default on the nation’s debt. “A failure to extend the tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 by trading them for broader tax hikes proposed by the President and “Gang of Six” would violate the Taxpayer Protection Pledge” according to a warning posted for “pledged” members of Congress to ponder.
In the interests of transparency, not to mention democracy, members of Congress should include on their self-serving web sites a list of all such pledges they have executed. Wouldn’t you be interested to know to whom they have committed the vote with which you entrusted them? Voters should be loathe to support candidates who have tied their own hands even before taking office. Elected representatives must be open to considering the facts before them at the time an issue is decided and not be bound by a pledge they gave to some special interest group in the heat of a campaign.
Those patriots who dumped tea in the Boston harbor in 1773, demanding “no taxation without representation” could never have imagined that the rights they sacrificed for would be signed away in pledges to special interest groups like Americans for Tax Reform. In a cruel irony, the net result all these years later is that we have “no taxation” (of the wealthy) and we got there with “no representation.”
Now that is worth another Tea Party!

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