A few words of advice for Tea Party folks—from the author of a novel on Washington corruption

image Now that so many Tea Party sympathizers are headed for public office, I can’t resist offering their followers a little advice—as the author of The Solomon Scandals, a novel on D.C. corruption:

1. If you think America is screwing the middle class, do you really want income taxes for the super-rich to remain outrageously low compared to much of the past? And since so many Tea Party people are on Social Security, shouldn’t the wealthy pay a fair share? Should Washington cap Social Security contributions after the first $106,800 of gross income? And should the ratios between CEOs’ take-home pay and workers’ reach the hundreds? Is greed really that good?

2. Otherwise politics and policy should not be a zero-sum game. Members of the Tea Party movement should remember that America cannot grow its national wealth or fix Social Security just by making 70 year-olds work themselves to death. We shouldn’t stint on education and training for future workers, young scientists and budding entrepreneurs who’ll create new jobs—and thus more revenue for Social Security.

3. Bureaucratic waste is in fact loathsome, and so are the hassles associated with paperwork, as I was reminded first-hand when dealing with an insurance company after accumulating $85,000 in medical bills from a heart attack. So consider the Information Stimulus Plan, which would redirect resources from paperwork in the public and private sectors to more useful activities such as public libraries—the ultimate places for self-improvement, in the tradition of Andrew Carnegie. The late William F. Buckley Jr., founder of National Review and hardly a socialist, loved a predecessor of the idea. Long term, the plan could help trim the budget deficit.

4. If you hate corrupt politics and crooked politicians, demand public financing of elections and other urgently needed reforms, including fuller disclosure of contributions, as well as limits or even bans on donations from executives working for federal contractors. Otherwise don’t complain about lobbyists and bought elections—no small reason for our tax code shafting the middle class. And while you’re at it, Tea Partyers, please read a New Yorker article on the Koch brothers.

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David Rothman

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