Thursday, May 05, 2011

Meckler/McClintock Tea Party Patriot town hall meeting - talks and Q&A

A report of the on-stage parts of the Tea Party Patriot town hall meeting held last week on Wednesday, April 27, 2011: talks by Mark Meckler and Tom McClintock, followed by a joint Q&A.

Apologies for the week-long delay in writing this up; life has been intervening.
And yes, this is rough, it's largely just transcriptions from notes, since I wanted to maximize [your] return on [my] investment of time&effort. If you spot inaccuracies, please sing out...
(Aspects already blogged: a prequel; post-meeting exchanges with Tom McClintock and Mark Meckler on climate change; and a journoethical judgment call (thanks to those who weighed in, on the latter.))

The Nevada County Horsemen's clubhouse was full for the NCTPP event Wednesday night, with an estimated 180-200 people attending. When Meckler asked how many were at their first TPP event, maybe 30 raised their hands. The crowd was vocal in a revivalist-congregation way, but less so than in the raucous 2009 health care townhall meeting (link); plus for this one, no signs were wielded.

This Tea Party event appeared to be McClintock's only appearance in Nevada County during the late-April Congressional recess; though (added 11:30am Fri.) I'm told McClintock held two Town Hall meetings proper in his district, one for Sierra County in Loyalton, and one for Placer County in Lincoln. (McClintock press secretary Bill George said McClintock did meet with some constituent groups, but he held no other Town Hall meetings.)

During the meeting, Meckler spoke for about 45 minutes, then McClintock for 5, followed by a joint Q&A.

In his talk, Meckler, who continues to be an excellent orator, touched on themes from his June 2010 TPP speech at Gateway Park; this time though, the use of familiar wording to signify a 180 degree opposite mindset struck me as more extensive. Meckler uses language I use, but in service of diametrically opposite ends.

Caveat: I didn't attend to the more substantive aspects of the economic-doom's-coming-and-don't-raise-taxes parts of Meckler's talk, in light of Krugman's recent points:

"From the tone of much [TPP] budget discussion, you might think that we were groaning under crushing, unprecedented levels of taxation. The reality is that effective federal tax rates at every level of income have fallen significantly over the past 30 years, especially at the top. And, over all, U.S. taxes are much lower as a percentage of national income than taxes in most other wealthy nations.

The point is that we aren’t that heavily taxed, either by historical standards or in comparison with other nations. So if you’re truly horrified by the budget deficit, why not propose tax increases as part of the solution?

Wait, there’s more. The core of the Ryan proposal is a plan to privatize and defund Medicare. Yet this would do nothing to reduce the deficit over the next 10 years, which is why all the near-term deficit reduction comes from brutal reductions in aid to the needy and unspecified cuts in discretionary spending. Tax increases, by contrast, can be fast-acting remedies for red ink."

Meckler reported a sense of political disillusionment, with the TPP folks getting bad treatment in Congress - by fellow members, by leadership...; people say that "they've never seen this kind of bullying by either party" - "whatever you think is going on in DC, however angry you are, however frustrated by what's not happening in Washington DC, you're not angry enough."
"There's a chasm between John Boehner & the TPP movement"; Boehner thinks saying there's no daylight between him & the TPP, is the way to coopt them. But now is not the time to give up, it's time to redouble our efforts...

Meckler got involved in order to try to save the future for our children and grandchildren, but "things have gotten so bad that it's now about us";

This all "requires adult action", we "need to have adult conversations about difficult problems"... "will you fight with me?"

"We're here to take back the country";
..."an incandescent lightbulb ban is not the kind of change we're looking for"
... "this is a fight between the incumbents and the people";'s an elite club...Nancy Pelosi flying across the country on military jets...we're there to break up that club"

"A famous politican said even discussing raising the debt ceiling represents a failure of leadership" (it was Obama); but that was when President Bush was in office; but now when it affects them and their programs..."
The claim that we'd default on our sovereign debt if we don't raise the debt ceiling - "that's a lie" - "any politician, any time, I'll debate them" on this; they're "believing that you're too stupid and too ignorant to understand..."; interest is $11 billion a month, we have $220 billion, "you do the math"; there are duplications of effort, entitlement programs are broken; there will be pain. But "we have to have the adult conversations"; "borrow and borrow and ultimately destroy everything we hold dear, or make tough decisions now..."

In general, Meckler's words brought an enthusiastic response from listeners, but when he moved into talking about Social Security ("I don't think the system will be solvent") & said he's willing to plan for his own retirement, to pay into Social Security and not get anything back, "I'm willing to make that sacrifice"; ... "millions of people my age and younger are", for those who really need it... a sacrifice that pales next to the sacrifices of the people fighting in Iraq, who are "willing to make the ultimate sacrifice", & asked "Do you think a lot of Americans would be willing to do that for each other?", the applause was tepid.

"The race card"..."does not exist in the TPP movement";
FreedomWorks's "Dick Armey" - "he's not our leader";
"Because you guys want real news, you're watching FOX"... FOX is "not just opinion"

- and with perhaps-unintentional irony,
"you guys did something historic, you changed the climate in this country"

Then Tom McClintock arrived, and spoke for about 5 minutes ("in history, people have stood up" when our country has "drifted into danger"; "we still need to take back the Senate and the White House"; public opinion polling shows that Obama "will no doubt be one of the most unpopular presidents"; "what you're doing is making a profound impact"...).

In the Q&A, McClintock made some interesting recommendations -
"Don't write a letter to your congressman, write to him on the pages of your local newspaper where everyone can see"; "speak to him in a public meeting"; "hold their feet to the fire"; "when they feel the heat, they see the light".

He said that the Tea Party is the successor to the Reagan Coalition, that "of the Tea Party, 20% are Independents, 20% are Democrats".
(FWIW, a couple of year-old polls bearing on this reported divergent results - the (Republican) Winston Group finding 510 TPs (17% of 3000) to be "28% independent, 17% Democrat and only 57% Republican"(link), but Gallup/USAToday finding their ~280 TP sample (28% of 1000) to be 43% Independent, 8% Democrat, 49% Republican (link) ; and Dems appear conspicuously absent from TP leadership)

McClintock exhorted, "Don't let the Left ever try and paint you as out of the mainstream"; every poll he's seen has shown the American public has a higher opinion of the Tea Party than of the current administration.

He displayed what (IMO) seemed like a distorted view of economics, that didn't account for externalities:
"prices carry an enormous wealth of information that people desperately need in order to make rational decisions when they're selecting what they're going to buy"; but "when government begins either disproportionately taxing or subsidizing one form [of energy] over another it is clearly distorting that information and causing people with bad information to make bad decisions."

1 comment:

Anna Haynes said...

I did send an email to the NevCo Tea Party alerting them to this blogpost, shortly after it went up; but they might not be monitoring their "info" email address, I guess.