Tea Party Astroturf: More Apparent than Ever and Blatantly HypocriticalPosted: March 31, 2011
Have you been wondering why we seem to have such a concerted effort in all kinds of states to take down unions, women’s rights, attack public workers, bankrupt the state with excessive tax cuts for business and the wealthy and other basically overwhelming policy attacks? Thought much about the Teabots recently? Well, here’s some interesting information on the little grass roots that got played big time. Not only is the tea party representing the interests of the rich, it’s also representing the interests of the rich taking lots of money from the state and federal government that they purport to hate. ABC’s Good Morning America has found some really interesting things on Tea Party Darlings on the Dole. Many of the biggest political icons in the movement are big abusers of government largess.
ABC’s senior political correspondent Jonathan Karl reported “the Tea Party movement is all about slashing federal spending, but at least five House members with Tea Party connections have themselves collected more than $100,000 each in federal farm subsidies, totalling more than $8 million since 1995.”
The subsidies are included in a report out Thursday by the Environmental Working Group. “We need a better system,” said Rep. Stephen Fincher, a Tennessee Republican whose family farm has received more than $3 million in subsidies, with more than $100,000 going directly to the Congressman himself. Asked directly if he’d refuse to take any further subsidies, he dodged the question. Others said the farm subsidies–totalling $16 billion–need to cut if not eliminated.
We’ve also learned that future presidential wannabe Michelle Bachman’s husband’s Christian “counseling” services
receives state funds in the scam to ungay, gay people. Talk about an appalling breach in the establishment clause!
Bachmann and Associates, Inc., a counseling center that receives state funds and is owned by Rep. Michele Bachmann and her husband, Dr. Marcus Bachmann, uses counseling methods steeped in fundamentalist Christianity, raising questions about its use of taxpayer money.
Founded in 2003, Bachmann’s clinic has taken in nearly $30,000 in state funds since 2007. Dr. Bachmann has said publicly that God heals people at his clinic and that Jesus Christ is the “Almighty Counselor.”
“We are distinctly a Christian counseling agency here in the Twin Cities,” he told KKMS radio in 2008. “We have 27 Christian counselors, Christ-centered, very strong in our understanding of who the Almighty Counselor is, and as we rely on God’s word and the Almighty Counselor, we have the opportunity to change people’s lives.”
He continued, “God heals people and if we give opportunity, if we are a willing vessel and we go according to what God’s word is, it works.”
The clinic applied for and received Rule 29 and Rule 31 licensing from the state in 2003. The rules allow the clinic to receive state money to treat low-income Minnesotans for mental health and chemical dependency problems. The clinic has earned $27,564 in state payments since 2007 — and likely received more, since the Minnesota Transparency and Accountability Project’s online data only goes back to 2007. Bachmann and Associates took $1,419 in public money in 2007, $13,140 in 2008, $12,493 in 2009 and $512 so far in 2010, according to the transparency project.
All of the clinic’s counselors identify as Christians. Among them is Marian E. Eckhardt, a licensed psychologist. Her mission statement says, “I believe that through knowledge, faith and dependency on God and His revealed truths one receives the strength and love to truly fulfill their life’s purpose.”
Saul Selby, the clinic’s drug and alcohol counselor, is also an ordained minister. Selby writes that he seeks to “help individuals and couples experience wholeness and healing through the application of biblical principles and the Love of Christ.”
Debra Kullberg, an associate marriage and family therapist, is also a licensed member of the clergy. “Jesus as the Son of God is the Savior, Healer, and intimate Lover of my soul,” she says in a statement on the clinic’s website. “He invites those He calls to join Him on a personal journey to the Cross. Our entire being is healed and restored (body, soul, and spirit) as we surrender ‘our way’ for ‘His way.’”
Watchdog groups say that the state’s arrangement with Bachmann and Associates is problematic.
Here’s some more of those tea party icons and their lives propped up with farm subsidies.
While the majority of American farmers receive no government money at all, at least 23 current members of congress or their families have received government money for their farms — combining for more than $12 million since 1995 according to a new report from the Environmental Working Group.
The biggest recipient was Rep. Stephen Fincher, a Republican from Frog Jump, Tenn.
While the self-described Tea Party patriot lists his occupation as “farmer” and “gospel singer” in the Congressional Directory, he doesn’t mention that his family has received more than $3 million in farm subsidies from 1995 to 2009, according to the Environmental Working Group.
According to an article last year in Salon, Michelle Bachmann, Charles Grassley, and Sam Brownbeck all get subsidies from the federal government to prop up their businesses.
No one would agree to stop taking subsidies — which is sensible, because if the money’s available, why not take it — but more amusingly some of these Tea Partiers wouldn’t even explicitly say they’d vote to end the subsidies, which are almost universally acknowledged as wasteful spending by experts across the ideological spectrum. Rep. Vicky Hartzler just said “everything should be on the table” and she was open to “starting the discussion,” which is just how lawmakers talk when they refuse to admit that they won’t vote for something they should vote for.
“Anti-government Republicans take lots of free government money” is basically an evergreen story. Chuck Grassley, Sam Brownback, and Michele Bachmann have also benefited from wasteful farm subsidies, even though they all hate the socialism so much. It’s enough to make you sympathize with libertarians, until you watch John Stossel talk about seasteading or something.
Here’s the scoop from TruthDig on how Michelle Bachman’s family basically makes a living from take federal money.
Bachmann, of Minnesota, has spent much of this year agitating against health care reform, whipping up the so-called tea-baggers with stories of death panels and rationed health care. She has called for a revolution against what she sees as Barack Obama’s attempted socialist takeover of America, saying presidential policy is “reaching down the throat and ripping the guts out of freedom.”
But data compiled from federal records by Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit watchdog that tracks the recipients of agricultural subsidies in the United States, shows that Bachmann has an inner Marxist that is perfectly at ease with profiting from taxpayer largesse. According to the organization’s records, Bachmann’s family farm received $251,973 in federal subsidies between 1995 and 2006. The farm had been managed by Bachmann’s recently deceased father-in-law and took in roughly $20,000 in 2006 and $28,000 in 2005, with the bulk of the subsidies going to dairy and corn. Both dairy and corn are heavily subsidized—or “socialized”—businesses in America (in 2005 alone, Washington spent $4.8 billion propping up corn prices) and are subject to strict government price controls. These subsidies are at the heart of America’s bizarre planned agricultural economy and as far away from Michele Bachmann’s free-market dream world as Cuba’s free medical system. If American farms such as hers were forced to compete in the global free market, they would collapse.
However, Bachmann doesn’t think other Americans should benefit from such protection and assistance. She voted against every foreclosure relief bill aimed at helping average homeowners (despite the fact that her district had the highest foreclosure rate in Minnesota), saying that bailing out homeowners would be “rewarding the irresponsible while punishing those who have been playing by the rules.” That’s right, the subsidy queen wants the rest of us to be responsible.
It continually amazes me that so many people appear to be vulnerable to the message that it’s government workers or poor people that benefit from government programs when so many statistics show that most of the largess from federal programs and subsidies go to those that are solidly upper middle class. What really kills me is that the same people that are waging wars on working people, women, children, and the poor for taking the tax payers’ hard earned cash are the same ones that are really living off the government teat. My guess is that many corporations–like GE–and individuals–like the Bachmanns–would be scraping around for other forms of incomes if it wasn’t for the funds they receive from the governments they so love to hate. Hypocrisy this huge should hurt.