“Green Tea” – It’s a Better Alternative

I spent Saturday at a Tea Party Event in Burton Michigan .  This is the fifth Tea Party event I have attended during this campaign.  I like what they are doing, as grassroots political movements have a historical importance in shaping our democracy.

One of the things that often surprises the voters is how much sympathy there is between the Green Party and the tenets of the Tea Party.  Take a look that there Contract with America and my responses (in green) and see what you think.

The Contract lists 10 agenda items that it encourages congressional candidates to follow:

  1. Identify constitutionality of every new law: Require each bill to identify the specific provision of the U.S. Constitution that gives Congress the power to do what the bill does.

This request seems to presume that there is no current concern for the constitutionality of any new law.  I’m not certain that is a huge problem right now and justices vary on laws regularly. We don’t want to create a huge, slow bureaucracy that slows government action to a halt.  

In business we had to often identify the “authorizing authority” that we believe allowed us to approve a project or use company resources.  If we are talking about a simple audit as part of the process, I am in favor of this.  However, I think even the authors of bad legislation most of the time believe they are on the right side of the Constitution.

I would prefer that we focus on stricter interpretation on existing regulations and laws.  For instance, we need to go back to the requirement to declare war, rather than authorize emergency appropriations and deployments.  

  1. Reject emissions trading: Stop the “cap and trade” administrative approach used to control carbon dioxide emissions by providing economic incentives for achieving reductions in the emissions of carbon dioxide.

I agree “Cap and Trade” is bad policy.  I don’t see any reason to put a traded commodity in the middle of this solution.  Regulations will work fine in this area.  When we reduced Freon or VOC’s  or heavy metals, we found benefits to our business as we implemented the regulations.  Cap, no trade, is the way to go.  There is no need for a “market based” solution.

  1. Demand a balanced federal budget: Begin the Constitutional amendment process to require a balanced budget with a two-thirds majority needed for any tax modification.

Agreed.  The single biggest issue confronting America is the size of the national debt.  We need to begin to address this immediately to ensure the continued viability of our country.

  1. Simplify the tax system: Adopt a simple and fair single-rate tax system by scrapping the Internal Revenue Code and replacing it with one that is no longer than 4,543 words – the length of the original Constitution.

As I have posted before, I for a transition to consumption taxes, as they reflect the resources utilized by the individual.  Income taxes are a tax on productive behavior and are counter intuitive.  By transitioning to consumption taxes, we would also gain access to the increasingly large gray market economy, which is estimated to be 12% of the total earnings in the US.  When those who work for cash – legally or illicitly – spend this money, we would capture a new tax stream.  A graduated scale for different classes of goods could ensure the tax scale stays reasonably progressive.

Where I probably differ with the Tea Party is on the issues of Capital Gains and Estate taxes.  I believe both of these represent windfalls that should be treated differently that “earned income.”  Rates on these income streams should be higher than the basic rates for consumption taxes.

  1. Audit federal government agencies for constitutionality: Create a Blue Ribbon taskforce that engages in an audit of federal agencies and programs, assessing their Constitutionality, and identifying duplication, waste, ineffectiveness, and agencies and programs better left for the states or local authorities.

I would first audit departments and agencies for obsolescence and necessity.  Many services, such as Education, are best delivered at the local or State level and the money spent in this area would be best left in the local community, rather than taking a detour through Washington, DC.

  1. Limit annual growth in federal spending: Impose a statutory cap limiting the annual growth in total federal spending to the sum of the inflation rate plus the percentage of population growth.

This does not go far enough.  As proposed earlier in this blog, we need to commit to a 15% cut in Federal spending, with much of that coming from the Department of Defense.

  1. Repeal the healthcare legislation passed on March 23, 2010: Defund, repeal and replace the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The problem with both of these proposals is that they entrench the big insurance companies and it creates new profit streams for private sector players.  My second issue is that is continues the idea that businesses are most responsible for “quality of life” benefits, like health care.   When you look at two competing business plans and one has a big “$0” under “Employee Health Care,” you have a big hint on which location is going to win.

  1. Pass an ‘All-of-the-Above’ Energy Policy: Authorize the exploration of additional energy reserves to reduce American dependence on foreign energy sources and reduce regulatory barriers to all other forms of energy creation.

 

I agree we need a balanced energy portfolio.  This is a national security issue, an issue of economic viability as fossil fuels become increasing scarce or prohibitively expensive and an issue of environmental stewardship.  We need to benchmark our farmers.  They have been employing a variety of energy technologies for generations.  

In terms of fossil fuels, we need to adopt a “Grandma’s Best Perfume” approach.  My grandmother always had one bottle of really nice perfume.  And she used it sparingly and dolled it out only on special occasions.  We are never going to find something a portable and energy packed as gasoline.  We need to conserve this resource so it is available to us for as long a period as possible, rather than burning it up as fast as possible, assuming the market will deliver a replacement when the need arises.

  1. Reduce Earmarks: Place a moratorium on all earmarks until the budget is balanced, and then require a 2/3 majority to pass any earmark.

I would go with a provision like we have in Michigan, which requires amendments to be germane to the original bill.  No more pork on the back end of a roads bill.

  1. Reduce Taxes: Permanently repeal all recent tax increases, and extend current temporary reductions in income tax, capital gains tax and estate taxes, currently scheduled to end in 2011. (53.38%)

I disagree on this.  Again, a combination of consumption, capital gains and estate taxes will provide balance, allow workers to keep the fruits of their labor and help ensure that we do not form the privileged classes that drove most of our original immigrants to find an a land where opportunity is more equally distributed and where hard work is the best route forward to an individual who takes responsibility for their own economic prosperity.