Monday, April 13, 2009


A rather familiar-sounding congressional moment from 1994:

(Mr. GINGRICH asked and was given permission to address the House for 1 minute and to revise and extend his remarks.)

Mr. GINGRICH. Mr. Speaker, there will be a taxpayers' tea party on April 15, this Friday, in Boston. It will partly be in honor of a new book called 'Taxpayers Tea Party' by one of my constituents, Sharon Cooper, and Chuck Asay of the Colorado Springs Newspaper. It has an introduction by Rush Limbaugh.

I want to recommend 'Taxpayers' Tea Party' to all my colleagues, because it is about term limits in a lot shorter timeframe. It is essentially a story about people who are mad over last year's tax increase and decided to get even by spending an amount equal to the tax increase as an independent expenditure against folks who voted to raise their taxes.

I think all of my colleagues will find 'Taxpayers' Tea Party' an interesting book. I think this Friday across the country as people pay their taxes, they will be thinking about a taxpayers' tea party, and a number of us will be in Boston with Sharon Cooper talking about the concept of a taxpayers' tea party.

It occurred to me that, back on a dusty shelf, I actually have a copy of this book. (No, I didn't buy it -- it was on a giveaway pile at the offices of my then-employer.) It's a thin little paperback put out by the sci-fi publisher Baen (which also published a couple of Gingrich's books). Much of the book is in comic-book format. The plot concerns various folks who've been brutalized by the horrific Clinton tax increases (remember the suffering?) and who mount a grassroots campaign -- with, curiously, the help of Grover Norquist -- to unseat Democratic incumbents and prevent further national nightmares, like universal health care. Rush Limbaugh (on TV -- this was back when he wasn't just on radio) is a movement muse; Newt Gingrich gets a name-check.

Yes, tea bags are mailed to targeted members of Congress.

It's not a particularly dramatic revolution -- it seems to consist of a couple of independent radio ads, billboards, and flyers, plus the tea -- but it's quite successful: not only are incumbents defeated, but ultimately the income tax amendment to the Constitution is repealed.

I've posted shots of a few pages below. (Apologies for the quality.)

Curiously, in February of this year, the Washington Independent's libertarian-leaning David Weigel blogged this:

My friend J.P. Freire, the managing editor of The American Spectator, is the brains behind When I saw him today after Grover Norquist's meeting [presumably Norquist's famous "Wednesday meeting"], he was driven, intense....

Freire's site is only one node in a network of grassroots Tea Party sites....

How important is Norquist to all this? We know that Gingrich is very much involved. Limbaugh isn't deeply involved, but he's certainly supportive.

Is this just a fifteen-year-old idea taken down from the shelf and given a new coat of paint, by folks who aren't part of the grass roots at all?


UPDATE: As a Rumproast commenter notes, FreedomWorks, the well-funded "think tank" that's among the main sponsors of the tea parties, is pushing for the abolition of the current tax code. Kinda-sorta like the 1994 cartoon tea partiers who abolish the income tax?


UPDATE: Here's Norquist's endorsement of the current tea parties. Norquist and someone from Gingrich's American Solutions organization are going to be the lead speakers at the D.C. tea party.

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