Does a Republican candidate actually need the Tea Party movement, or is it simply enough to look like you have its support on television?
That's the existential paradox CityBeat's been pondering since Carly Fiorina's April 15 appearance in San Diego. If you excluded reporters, other politicians, campaign staffers and volunteers, Fiorina barely mustered two-dozen supporters at her “anti-tax rally.”
Yet, if you watched the local NBC news that evening, you would've thought hers was the largest of the 10 Tea Party events held across the county on Tax Day.
“Within the Tea Party movement, there is a feeling that certain Republican candidates are trying to benefit from the momentum of the Tea Parties without having to be a part of it,” says Dana Matas, spokesperson for Stop Taxing Us. The North County grassroots organization's April 15 rally filled the Oceanside Pier Amphitheatre.
To see that Fiorina's event was a “faux Tea Party,” all one had to do was look at the supporters' signs. With few exceptions, the hand-lettered posters promoting Fiorina and slamming incumbent Sen. Barbara Boxer were handed out by the campaign before the event and collected again afterward.
“The hallmark of a Tea Partier is their handmade signs,” Matas says. “A whole audience holding signs for one candidate? That must be an orchestrated event.”
To be fair, Matas points out that Fiorina did speak later in the day to a crowd of 10,000 at a genuine Tea Party event in Pleasanton, near Boxer's . Nevertheless, we're going to award Fiorina 3,500 turds, one for every genuine San Diego County Tea Partier who turned up in Oceanside.
San Diego City Councilmember Carl DeMaio earns a fistful of turds this week for
endorsing introducing [see note in comments] Lorie Zapf, a candidate for the open District 6 seat, on stage at the Fiorina event.
These turds aren't because DeMaio's a gay Republican and Zapf has made statements in the past that homosexuals should be kept from public office. No, this time it's another form of hypocrisy: DeMaio, who's backing a ballot measure to revamp the city's contract-bidding system, prides himself on his number-crunching integrity, and Zapf has proven she's willing to bend tax data for political points.
Here's a statistic Zapf blurted out when it was her turn at the podium:
“Did you know the average American will be paying more in taxes this year than we spend on food, clothing and shelter combined?”
No, we did not know that—because it's bullshit.
Zapf's claim is a bastardization of a claim made by The Tax Foundation, a think tank based in Washington, D.C. By its calculations, the government will collect more in tax revenue this year than Americans, collectively, will spend on those basic necessities. The fact is, this has been the case since 1976.
But, because America's tax system is progressive—the more you make, the higher your tax rate—an average cannot be accurately extrapolated, and any attempt at correlation is bogus. One cannot simply take the total for the nation and apply it to the individual citizen. If you could, you'd also be able to make claims like:
“Did you know that the average Californian will spend 40 hours in a state prison this year?”
“Did you know that the average Californian is 12.5 percent Asian?”
“Did you know the average Californian produces six barrels of crude oil per year?”
The Tax Foundation itself suggests that the average individual's tax burden is about 26 percent. That's still lower than the 28.5 percent of earnings the U.S. Department of Labor estimates the average American family spends on clothing, food and shelter.
Follow Turds & Blossoms on Twitter: @turdsblossoms. Send tips and nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Writer's note: This story has been adjusted to fix a claim about Barbara Boxer's hometown, which is not Pleasanton. We regret the error.