Green Room

The Pie Party

posted at 9:55 am on November 8, 2010 by

No, it’s not some lame, lefty response like the Coffee Party, but it could be the next step for the Tea Party. Allahpundit is busy aggregating the news each day, so he gets to drop gems like this only in passing:

The more I watch tea party honchos rant against government spending and big government, the more frustrated I am that, for all their ardor, only very rarely do they squarely address the problem of entitlements and what aging Baby Boomers will mean for it. Even the tea party’s “Contract from America” doesn’t touch the third rail: It dances around it, demanding a balanced budget and tax reform, calling for a statutory cap on spending, and proposing a task force on fiscal responsibility, but never are any of the old entitlements specifically targeted. (By contrast, the Contract explicitly calls for repealing ObamaCare and rejecting cap-and-trade.) The greatest thing the tea party could do for fiscal responsibility is to simply start talking about this; doing so won’t land entitlement reform on the national agenda immediately, but putting the idea in people’s heads will at least prepare the ground for it. And the ground does need to be prepared, urgently…

In fairness, given how quickly Democrats were moving in the opposite direction, it made complete sense for the Tea Party to focus on applying the brakes with the election of a GOP majority in the House. But as anyone who has studied the Democrats’ infrastructure — i.e., the labor movement — will tell you, it’s not enough to agitate and organize; you also must educate. That project can help keep wind in the sails of those just elected and further broaden the Tea Party’s appeal for 2012.

A good starting point might be to study the case of H. Ross Perot, who managed to put the deficit and debt at the top of the national agenda a generation ago (before revealing himself to be — to put it kindly — a mite eccentric. There’s a lesson there about candidate selection, but I’ll let others hash that one out for now). What Perot had going for him was: (1) good visuals, in the form of simple pie charts and bar graphs, explaining the scope of the problem; (2) the ability to turn a phrase; (3) a national platform (being a favored guest of Tim Russert’s Meet The Press and others); and (4) money to burn.

The Tea Party, unlike Perot’s Reform Party, is the opposite of a top-down organization. However, unlike the America of 1992, the Tea Party has the Internet as a low-cost national media platform, as well as low-cost software for producing potentially compelling content. The same decentralized network that generated ideas and action for organizing can be used to generate that content. I would suggest a video or videos outlining the scope of our public debt problem — larger than all the money in the world — that would be a cross between those Perot-esque pie charts and political campaign ads. Perhaps a group like FreedomWorks could be induced to sponsor something like an X Prize for such a project.

Of course, in the spirit of the Tea Party, I acknowledge that the marketplace of ideas might come up with a better proposal. However, after a wave of Tea, a healthy helping of Pie might be the next best course.

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Comments

Good job Karl, Very nicely put.

elraphbo on November 8, 2010 at 11:12 AM

I totally agree. I’m tired of the GOP letting libs scare the elderly with regards to Medicare and Social Security, and not educating them that it will be gone and defunct in six years if not changed.

We need to be educating constantly about the massive unfunded liability coming down the track, one we are going to slam squarely into if we don’t change things NOW.

We also need to be educating about the important and beneficial role of the rich in our society.

PastorJon on November 8, 2010 at 1:00 PM

…and besides…

I like pie!

RegularJoe on November 8, 2010 at 1:58 PM

Yes, absolutely! Given all the old Perotistas in the Tea Party, it should not be hard to convince folks of the appeal.

Sekhmet on November 8, 2010 at 3:08 PM

We have to get the defecit squared away before we can even think about the debt.

Regardless, the Tea Party is a response to government expansion run amok, I doubt serious tackling of the budget mess short-term and long-term will be an easy sell.

uknowmorethanme on November 8, 2010 at 4:49 PM

I wrote this the day after the election.

You don’t “cut” … you allow Americans to BUY more LIBERTY in a more economically secure nation where government is out of their way.

HondaV65 on November 8, 2010 at 4:52 PM

Pastor Jon, FYI. Only one piece of Social Security is “gone” by 2018.

Social Security (other than Disability Insurance): The annual deficits will be made up by redeeming trust fund assets in amounts less than interest earnings through 2024, and then by redeeming trust fund assets until reserves are exhausted in 2037, at which point tax income would be sufficient to pay about 75 percent of scheduled benefits through 2084.

Social Security (Disability Insurance): The Disability Insurance (DI) Trust Fund, however, is now projected to become exhausted in 2018, two years earlier than in last year’s report. Thus, changes to improve the financial status of the DI program are needed soon.

Medicare (Hospital Insurance fund): The projected date of HI Trust Fund exhaustion is 2029, 12 years later than in last year’s report, at which time dedicated revenues would be sufficient to pay 85 percent of HI costs.

http://www.ssa.gov/OACT/TRSUM/index.html

Jimbo3 on November 8, 2010 at 4:54 PM

Yep. It needs to transform into grassroots support for governing initiatives like cutting debt, reforming entitlements, and opposing tax raises.

It can be done. And it would be extremely powerful if done properly.

Then, when 2012 comes, it can be a force to maintain the majority in the House, grab the Senate, and toss Obambi from 1600 Pennsylvania.

amerpundit on November 8, 2010 at 4:55 PM

Bravo. Analysts and statisticians concur that the tea party’s agenda is America’s agenda.

Winning in 2012 is all about branding and nothing will distinguish us more from Obama than consistently voting to shrink the debt.

Quetzal on November 8, 2010 at 5:30 PM

I have a new rule. I don’t read articles that have the words “the tea party should” or any variation on that. The tea party is not a monolithic organization that can be preached to and will respond to the advice of pundits, either left or right. Candidates run by their own volition and they either get votes in the primary or they don’t. That is the “selection process”. Perot had a stack of money and some strong opinions so he decided to run, he was not selected by any one group. This unsolicited advice is useless and tiresome.

echosyst on November 8, 2010 at 5:38 PM

Agreed. We need to sop messing around and ATTACK their “golden calf” head-on. I’ll be holding a sign at the next Tea Party that says “End the SS system (as we know it). And yes, I am willing to forfeit any and all benefits after paying into SS for the past 35 years.

My collie says:

Anyone else willing to put their money where their mouth is?

CyberCipher on November 8, 2010 at 5:56 PM

CyberCipher on November 8, 2010 at 5:56 PM

I’ve only payed into SS for about a dozen years, but I’d be willing to pay a flat tax of 20% and get no government retirement benefits if it meant everyone else doing the same.
Not that I think SS will still exist when I retire turn 65 anyway, mind you.

Count to 10 on November 8, 2010 at 6:33 PM

IF there as no social security, and no medicare, it would be impossible for America to go broke. Some might say, but what kind of America would we have without social security and medicare? And my answer is, the America we had for almost 200 years. And a solvent one at that. Unfortunately, no one alive today remembers that America.

keep the change on November 8, 2010 at 6:41 PM

I have paid in for 40+ years. I’ll give it up. End the income tax. flat or fair tax instead. IRS needs to go.

IowaWoman on November 10, 2010 at 5:26 PM