Taxation without Representation? Not with the Tea Party Around

This column originally appeared in the December 2013 edition of the Valley Patriot

gas taxBy: Christine Morabito

In July of 2013 the Massachusetts legislature did something both historic and fiendishly clever. When voting to increase the gas tax (not historic) they also voted to index the tax to inflation, meaning the tax will continue to rise, and rise without lawmakers having to perform the unpleasant task of voting for it.

This slick maneuver was viewed by conservatives as the epitome of “taxation without representation.” Just like the original Tea Party, the modern day Tea Party was having none of it. Limited government groups, conservative activists and Republican lawmakers joined forces to collect over 100,000 raw signatures from embattled taxpayers of all political persuasions, who have had enough of this nonsense. The goal was to give voters an opportunity to repeal the automatic tax increases during the 2014 elections.

About 87,000 certified signatures for the repeal were delivered to the Secretary of State’s office this week. That was 18,000 more than was required, illustrating the popularity of this citizen effort. The initiative is now on its way to appearing on next year’s ballot.

Not surprisingly, Governor Deval Patrick is not amused. Perhaps still stinging from the embarrassment of the Tech Tax repeal a few months ago, he is now lashing out at advocates of the gas tax repeal. Patrick said, “… I think those that are advocating that the indexing be undone need to answer for why it is they keep showing up for all the ribbon-cuttings every time there’s a new bridge or a new road project done, but don’t seem to want to participate in how to pay for it.”

While it was not crystal clear who the governor was referring to, we can safely rule out the activists and petition signers who are far too busy working and paying taxes to attend ribbon-cutting ceremonies. A reasonable person could deduce that the ribbon-cutting enthusiasts Patrick was speaking of were the several Republican lawmakers who supported the petition; his veiled threat to them: Good luck getting state funding for your district’s construction projects in the future.

During the budget debates, Beacon Hill lawmakers ignored Republican attempts to solve some of the state’s financial problems through reform efforts. Seems the lopsided legislative body was only interested in measures that would raise taxes – I mean, revenue. Patrick’s knee-jerk defense of roads and bridges is old and tired. Tax revenue is plentiful if only it were spent properly. In fact, Patrick recently announced that he will begin accepting his full salary of $151,800, having foregone some of it in previous years. He states, “We’re running a surplus. I think it’s fair.” The state did indeed end its fiscal year with a surplus of $1 billion. So, tell me again why we need to raise taxes?

The gas tax increase will disproportionately affect the poor and the elderly on fixed incomes. While I do not begrudge the governor collecting his six figure salary, if fairness was his goal, he would support tanking the gas tax because the little people cannot afford it.

If the repeal fails and this “forever gas tax” is allowed to stand, our slippery lawmakers will be given the green light to tie future legislation to inflation, as they have already done with their own salaries and are attempting to do with the proposed minimum wage increase. Like a naughty toddler acting up in the toy store, politicians should not be rewarded for bad behavior if we expect them to act appropriately in the future.

Luckily, some people are demanding politicians be held accountable. A debt of gratitude goes out to all those hard working Tank the Gas Tax activists, conservative talk show hosts and legislators who spend countless hours collecting signatures in all kinds of weather, promoting the effort on radio and television and delivering and retrieving petitions from city and town halls all across the state. This was no easy task for unpaid activists. The fact that these sometimes disparate groups were able to work so well together for the common good is worth noting.

Massachusetts drivers now pay 42.4 cents in taxes per gallon of gasoline, figuring in state and federal taxes. The prospect of this tax going even higher in the future is not sitting well with them and they are speaking out. This citizen’s petition is their way of telling their representatives that they are Taxed Enough Already. Good for you Massachusetts!

Related Articles:

Mass. passes historic gas tax increase
Gas tax rollback vote angers Mass. Governor
Patrick: Don’t repeal automatic gas tax hikes
Gov. Patrick lashes out at push to repeal gas tax law
Massachusetts caps fiscal year with $1 billion surplus in tax collections
Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick to begin taking full $151,800 salary he is entitled to

Lowdown on the Shutdown: A Tea Party Leader’s Perspective

Obamacare Pace Car

By Christine Morabito

The federal government “shut down” and yet the sun still rises in the East. Actually, a government shutdown is not nearly as catastrophic as some in Washington would have you believe. The blame game continues in earnest, with liberals trotting out various and sundry “victims” and attempting to blame Republicans – especially the Tea Party. So, one day we’re “dead” and the next we’re responsible for every pestilence known to mankind. They can’t have it both ways.

According to State House News Service, Gov. Deval Patrick opined, “I think Tea Party Republicans are playing a big game with little people and I hope God forgives them for that, but I hope voters won’t.” Hmmm, where to begin …. It is clear that this tactic is about using powerful rhetoric to work people up into a lather; people who wouldn’t otherwise notice the shutdown. It’s about bringing on the hurt and gaining sympathy so they can blame the other side. It’s about videotaping eight-year-olds giving the thumbs down” to the shutdown, when they wouldn’t know a government shutdown if it crawled out of their chicken nuggets.

Make no mistake about who truly cares about “little people.” It is most certainly not the liberals, whom, with their every policy, (raising taxes, imposing excessive regulations and making people dependent on the government) keep those little people right where they are. The Tea Party, on the other hand, wants EVERYONE to succeed!

This is an excellent opportunity for the Tea Party to educate folks about the difference between essential and non-essential programs. By the way, if spending falls into the category of non-essential, shouldn’t we at least have a conversation about whether or not we can afford it? After all, that’s what we all do in our own homes when we have budgeting challenges. Our debt limit has been raised 7 times since President Obama took office. How much more debt are we willing to burden our children and grandchildren with?

Our federal government has gotten too big and spends entirely too much money. More importantly, they are doing things they were never intended to do, like imposing job-killing regulations, controlling student loans, car companies, and now the healthcare industry, just to name a few. And, do our congressmen really need 18-22 staffers? Well, do they? Some cuts will be more painful than others, but our politicians are lying to us if they claim spending is not a problem.

This shutdown is the ultimate in political theater. In a piece called “Seven stupid things the gov’t spent money on during the shutdown,” Michael Bastasch reports, “federal agencies created new websites to tell visitors that they don’t have enough funding to run their old websites,” chose not to close parks near Democratic senators’ homes,and feds have posted park rangers at the WWII memorial “to prevent rogue veterans from getting in.”

As for Obamacare, it has raised healthcare premiums, cut workers’ hours, caused doctor shortages and forced many people to lose their health insurance. Even the unions hate it. In a revealing letter to Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, president of the Teamsters Union, Jimmy Hoffa, wrote the following, “Right now, unless you and the Obama Administration enact an equitable fix, the ACA will shatter not only our hard-earned health benefits, but destroy the foundation of the 40 hour work week that is the backbone of the American middle class….The unintended consequences of the ACA are severe. Perverse incentives are already creating nightmare scenarios.”

Major provisions of the healthcare law have already been delayed or amended, and exemptions given to friends of powerful politicians. The American people just want their exemption too.

MA Tea Party & Liberty Activists Ask Governor to Act

Massachusetts Tea Party and Liberty activists call for Governor’s action on escalating violent rhetoric expressed by MA officeholders and employees

Boston 3/2/11 – A coalition of Massachusetts Tea Party and Liberty activists has today sent a letter to Governor Deval Patrick’s office.  In it, leaders ask the Governor to take action in addressing the rising level of violent language being directed at those activists that have demonstrated support for Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s financial reform efforts, including proposed legislation that reins in benefits and collective bargaining privileges enjoyed by Wisconsin public employee unions.

Ken Mandile of Worcester Tea Party said “We’re putting the Governor on notice that this is happening.  It’s the people’s responsibility to support good governance.  It is not the responsibility of government to criticize the people.” Tea Party and Liberty leaders encourage the Governor to act.

The following is the text of the letter sent to the Governor’s office:

Dear Governor Patrick,

As our elected leaders in the past months have called for more measured public discourse, the signatories of this letter eagerly wait for this moment to arrive in the Commonwealth.  While the Tea Parties of Massachusetts continue to engage in civil public debate, recent rhetoric by an elected office holder and a state employee has left our members questioning their commitment.

Our members see the public statements made on February 26, 2011 by George Noel “Make no mistake about it. We are at War.” as blatantly disregarding this general call for civility.  While we respect Mr. Noel’s right to free speech outside his official capacity as Director of Labor for the Commonwealth, we believe his statements to be intentionally inflammatory.

In light of experiencing verbal and physical intimidation at the Statehouse on February 22, 2011, including being shouted at, spit on, shoved, knocked to the ground and sustaining damage to personal property, our members are alarmed by what appears to be a pattern of suggestive violent language coming from our government.   Congressman Capuano, in response to criticism, expressed regret for his call to “get a little bloody”.

Individuals can make poor word choices.  This is not our concern.  What concerns us is that when this type of language comes repeatedly from officeholders and upper management of the Commonwealth, it takes on an appearance of the state inciting and encouraging violence against citizens with an opposing point of view.

It is amusing to us that the public labor unions have enlisted private trade unions, with whom the Tea Party has no issue, into this debate.  More disconcerting is when the character of the speech coming from our government is matched with the violent actions of union supporters.  It becomes difficult to determine where the labor movement ends and our state government begins.

We expect action from your office to ensure that the leadership of the Commonwealth, both elected and appointed, will cease such deliberate provocation.

Respectfully,

Barbara Anderson, Citizens for Limited Taxation
Rob & Joy Anderson, Worcester Tea Party
Clifford Blake II, Clinton Tea Party
Justin Brooks, Twin City Tea Party

David M. Costello, Bristol County Tea Party
Bob Dwyer, East Coast Tea Party Patriots
Cherie Felos, Elephant Klub
Carlos Hernandez, North Shore Tea Party
Richard Howell, Pioneer Valley Tea Party
Bonnie Johnson, Worcester Seven Hills Tea Party
Thaddeus Kasperowicz, The House of Adams (Quincy Tea Party)
Barbara Klain, Greater Lowell Tea Party
Dave Kopacz, Pioneer Valley Tea Party
Bud Laureyns, Leicester-Paxton-Rutland Tea Party
Michael Long, Northborough Tea Party
Kenneth J. Mandile, Worcester Tea Party
Lisa Martin, Plymouth Rock-Cape and Islands Tea Party
Michael Mosca, Merrimack Valley Tea Party
Michael Petrell, Plymouth Rock-Cape and Islands Tea Party
Todd Segal, Berkshire Tea Party
Christen Varley, Greater Boston Tea Party
Kate Wirtz, Greater Gardener Tea Party