WASHINGTON, April 15 (UPI) -- It's Tax Day in the United States, but a lot of people are as angry about paying taxes as they were at the British Empire in 1773 when American patriots threw a cargo of British tea into Boston Harbor.
April 15 is the day by which U.S. federal tax returns must be filed or an extension requested. Since millions of people actually get refunds from the U.S. government, which has held the money interest-free, most have already filed. But there are the procrastinators and those who have payments due to the government -- and they generally are the ones dealing with the deadline.
Americans traditionally are among the world's best in paying taxes. They don't like it so much, but they comply. One big reason for this is payroll-check withholding; the government gets the money before the citizen does. But there is also a feeling that taxes are, to a point, necessary. Even libertarians agree with that -- to a degree.
The simplest of filings in the United States are very simple, but it doesn't take long for the forms and directions to become very confusing. Politicians often promise to redo the U.S. tax code but don't seem to be making strides toward simplifying things.
This year, however, is not like any other year since the U.S. Constitution came into effect 220 years ago. For this year, tax protesters across the nation have scheduled TEA -- Taxed Enough Already -- Parties. These are demonstrations not so much against taxes as against the tax policies of President Barack Obama. Hundreds of protests are planned -- including one at noon in front of the U.S. Treasury in Washington, D.C.
It started with an attack on taxes by a CNBC commentator, but it has grown into a conservative radio- and Internet-driven movement. Fox News has covered it comprehensively, but the rest of the mainstream media has tried to pretend it wasn't there. However, hundreds of thousands of people may be protesting. The combination of unprecedented spending and policies, the prospect of tax increases and more than 2.6 million American jobs lost since President Obama won election on Nov. 4 has fanned the flames of anger and fear across working-class and middle-class America.
The Obama administration clearly wishes the TEA protests weren't really happening, but it is certainly taking the threat of right-wing extremism seriously. The Department of Homeland Security has produced a nine-page document warning of "right-wing extremist activity."
Radio host Roger Hedgecock and United Press International's sister publication The Washington Times were the first to report on the secret April 7 internal DHS report, which was tagged "advisory."
The report said issues such as illegal immigration and gun control are central points. However, it also claimed that the extreme right's anger was further fanned by the election of the United States' first African-American president.
"The economic downturn and the election of the first African-American president present unique drivers of right-wing radicalization and recruitment," the report said.
Inappropriate investigation of lawful citizens is to be avoided, but it should be remembered that the Oklahoma City federal-building bombing in 1995 was carried out by Timothy McVeigh, a proponent of extremist causes.
However, Homeland Security would have been better served to warn of extremism on both ends of the political spectrum. Further, The Washington Times reported that Homeland Security is now defining "right-wing extremism in the United States" as including not just racist or hate groups but also groups that reject federal authority in favor of state or local authority.
Does that include the government of the state of Texas? For the Lone Star State's Republican Gov. Rick Perry has thrown his support behind a state House of Representatives resolution reminding the federal government of the 10th Amendment regarding states' rights.
"Millions of Texans are tired of Washington, D.C., trying to come down here to tell us how to run Texas," Perry said.
House Concurrent Resolution 50 asserts some federal proposals are not within the scope of the federal government's constitutionally designated powers and impede the states' right to govern themselves. It also calls for all compulsory federal legislation that requires states to comply under threat of civil or criminal penalties, or that requires states to pass legislation or lose federal funding, be prohibited or repealed.
In normal times, this kind of talk would provoke national derision and a landslide rejection at the next election. Americans at least since the post-Civil War period have repeatedly confounded foreign observers by talking extremes in their politics and then voting in overwhelming numbers with remarkable moderation.
But the times are no longer normal. Obama inherited a severe economic crisis from his predecessor, President George W. Bush, but so far on the new president's watch, the crisis has only gotten worse.
If Obama can master the current economic storms and restore to Americans their sense of security about their jobs, their currency and their government, then the rising wave of rejection against the powers and claims of the federal government will subside. But if he fails in his efforts, it will not. That is why the TEA Parties on Tax Day are important, whatever labels the Obama administration tries to stick on them.