Chuck Schumer - Tea Party Expert

This week, as part of the push to sell a Democratic version of tax rates for next year, Chuck Schumer (D-NY) came out with a rather startling revelation.

Middle-class independent voters abandoned Democrats in droves last month, and Schumer, who just won a third term, wanted to portray the GOP as the party of millionaires and billionaires.

“Our colleagues on the other side of the aisle said, ‘Did you hear the mandate of the election?’ ” Schumer told reporters last week. “Well, I ran this year, I got 66 percent of the vote in my state. And I saw lots of people and lots of angry people. . . . But not a single one of them, from the tea party or anywhere else, said give tax breaks to the millionaires.”

Really? Well, this is some fascinating news, particularly for me. You see, I just spent the last year of my life orchestrating a congressional campaign in Senator Schumer’s state. In the process, I had the opportunity to work with a number of different Empire State tea party groups quite closely, and I don’t remember that being part of their message at all.

But then I reminded myself that I’m getting on in years and my memory might not be as reliable as I hope it once was. Perhaps I was just misremembering the whole thing, to borrow a popular Bushism. I decided to go right to the horse’s mouth and check to be sure.

First I contacted Ron Barrett, founder and leader of the Southern Tier Tea Party. Ron organizes the efforts of a small army of flag waving activists in a portion of Mr. Schumer’s home state near the Pennsylvania border. I put the question to him… was his group telling the Senator that they wanted to tax the rich? His response is provided here without edits or comment:

Mr. Schumer is out of touch with reality. Our organization, The Southern Tier Tea Party, worked night and day to get incumbents like Schumer out of office. We believe that taxes are too high for most everyone, including the “rich.” After all it is the “rich” people of this great country that supply the vast majority of the jobs to Americans. It is officials like Schumer who are trying to raise taxes that will devastate this great country. The “rich” people as Schumer, Obama, and many other liberals put it, are the creators of jobs. Schumer, Obama, and the likes of them say that individuals with an income of $200,000 per year are rich. The Southern Tier Tea Party believes in equality. Why not have a flat tax where everyone is paying the same percentage of taxes based upon their income?

Next I contacted Sheryl Thomas. She’s got an e-mail list which most professional politicos in New York would give their eye teeth for and frequently captured the news cycle in the busy business corridor between Albany and New York City with marches and protests drawing hundreds of people. She is also widely credited with playing a key role in a number of GOP pick-ups in that area in both state and local offices. Her response wasn’t much different than Ron’s.

I can not speak for other tea parties across New York or the country but most tea party people in my group would say what the GOP wants to do is “preserve” the Bush tax breaks for Americans NOT give Americans tax cuts. There are NO tax CUTS. Therefore, millionaires will receive no additional “tax breaks” that they have not already been receiving like other taxpayers. It is a deceptive play on words the Democrats are participating in.

Secondly, I can’t think of a single tea party event Chuck Schumer participated in so I’m not sure how he can present himself as a spokesman for the “tea party”. He is delusional. The tea party is not angry at millionaires. They are angry at their elected representatives who feel they know better than their constituents, continue to expect taxpayers to pay more and more for reckless spending on unnecessary government projects, and who are seeking to create “class warfare” for their own political gain.

I can safely say I have never heard any grassroots volunteer or activist say “give millionaires a tax break” but I haven’t heard them say Congress should take the tax break for the wealthy away either. Most conservative grassroots Americans would see letting the Bush tax breaks expire as death to any hope for a quick economic recovery.

Yes, that’s just about what I remembered. If you don’t mind my saying, Senator, I talked to literally hundreds of tea party members in seven different groups over the last year. One of the key things they seemed to be worried about was jobs, which are sorely lacking in our state right now in case you hadn’t noticed. But we’re not just hemorrhaging employers, but employees as well. I’m no expert, but I think that may be a prime factor in why we’re set to lose at least one and probably two congressional seats next month.

Did you really think all those business owners were running away because their taxes were too low? Perhaps you suspected they were all moving to Massachusetts.

So, Senator Schumer, who exactly were you talking to from the tea parties about this? Could you provide some names? Inquiring minds would like to know.

Now you can yell at Jazz for being a stupid, wrong-headed RINO even faster than by just leaving a comment. Follow him on Twitter! @JazzShaw