Sunday, October 21, 2012

Contract From America, a critique

I was accused today of being someone who could join the tea party and that I didn't know what it stood for, so I decided to learn what it is for, and here is what I found on the Contract from America:
  1. Identify constitutionality of every new law: Require each bill to identify the specific provision of the Constitution that gives Congress the power to do what the bill does.
  2. Reject emissions trading: Stop the "cap and trade" administrative approach used to control pollution by providing economic incentives for achieving reductions in the emissions of pollutants.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Repeal the health care legislation passed on March 23, 2010: Defund, repeal and replace the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
  8. 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.
  9. Reduce Earmarks: Place a moratorium on all earmarks until the budget is balanced, and then require a 2/3 majority to pass any earmark.
  10. Reduce Taxes: Permanently repeal all recent tax increases, and extend permanently the George W. Bush temporary reductions in income tax, capital gains tax and estate taxes, currently scheduled to end in 2011.
The first part is already done by the Supreme Court, 5 of 9 have been appointed by Republicans.
I am going to ask the conflict theorists question for the second point: Who benefits from no restrictions on oil emissions? Oil companies.
I agree with balancing the Federal budget, but I have looked at it and except for massive cuts from the Department of Defense, it can't be done. This is something Republicans have never been behind for the past 30 years.
Simplifying the tax system. First of all, my economics textbook (written by Bush advisor Gregory Mankiw) claims that flat taxes (what they are calling for) is by its nature a regressive tax. I would prefer a progressive tax structure based on the cost of living with rates from 0% to 50% where 99% of Americans will pay less than 15% and it will be modified by states' cost of living, and capital gains will b one taxed as regular income. That will balance the budget. The Tea Party doesn't support that, it says so in the Contract from America.
5. Every department (except for the Department of Defense) is already audited. This is a moot point. Why haven't the Tea Party members of Congress (a majority in the house) proposed a bill to do this? Curious...
6. Limit the growth of federal spending, does this take into account potential disasters? If we limited ourselves from growing our services in the face of disaster, how would the government cope?
7. According to the World Health Organization, The United States pays an average of $8361 per capita on health care in 2010. Norway and Switzerland were about the same. Canada paid $5222 in 2010. Our health statistics, birth mortality, life expectancy, and others according to the CIA don't show an increase over other nations. The statistics show that our current private health care system doesn't benefit the average American. Our current system only benefits the insurance industry. They don't specify what they would replace Obamacare with.
8. If we generated our fuels domestically, they will be the same companies that drill abroad. Nothing will really change there. It will still be the same companies, and our domestic oil production is at an all time high right now. Houston Chronicle
9. Reduce earmarks. If the tea party is so against earmarks, why haven't they done anything about it? This is not the real goal of the tea party.
10. Reducing taxes. I agree and disagree here. In order to do some things efficiently, we need to do them as a country, and that means we need the government to raise money. Most of these Bush tax increases go to the rich. This is not going to benefit most tea party people.

I disagree with all ten at some extent. I wish to offer counter-proposals (that I wish Occupy would have embraced) on the same topics that are actually at issue. I have also addressed a few corruption issues that the Tea Party fails to addre
  1. Move off of fossil fuels and embrace Hydrogen fuel cells as a mode for fueling transportation. They are competitive, and fulfill Adam Smith's requirement that there be competition in a market for supply and demand to work. This will drive down the cost of transportation. They also are 100% domestic.
  2. Demand a balanced federal budget. Cut subsidies to lobbyists and make a strong simple and progressive tax code.
  3. Simplify the tax system. Make a tax system ranging from 0% to 75% of income (most Americans won't see their tax rates go up, down probably) and put in two deductions, one for all education expenses, and one for all health care expenses. As the budget is balanced, put the lowest rates into the 0% category to encourage growth from the bottom of the income ladder. Short-selling stocks will not make your taxes go down!
  4. Expand Medicare to cover all Americans. This will bring down our cost of health care by providing primary care for people who need it so that instead of going to the emergency room they can get early treatment which is less expensive. After doing this, Medicaid and Tricare will be fully abolished.
  5. Audit the Department of Defense.
  6. Reduce earmarks by making all elections publicly run, publicly financed, and outlawing lobbying through money in Congress. The Tea Party has not embraced this.
  7. Abolish the federal handouts to the Real Estate industry by abolishing the mortgage tax deduction to raise revenue, or decrease taxes.
  8. Stop sending money to nations that abuse human rights like Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and historically the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, Iran, and Iraq. Only send developmental aid that builds the nations capacity to grow and gets average people to be economically sustainable.
  9. Elect the President through Instant Runoff Voting. Elect Congress by the Single Transferable Vote using the Gregory Method. Abolish the Senate which was only created to preserve the interests of the politically established. Increase Congress to 750 members in the one remaining house.
  10. To save money, legalize marijuana. Legalize LSD. Legalize ecstasy. Increase taxes on cigarettes. This will save money and generate revenue.
Those will actually balance the budget. Most people will see their taxes decrease, the only people who will see more taxes are the ones who are paying 15% on million of dollars of income. The Tea Party doesn't support this, but it is the only honest way to balance the budget without cutting military spending.

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