The Republicans, and especially their reactionary media outlets, have been pounding their mantra of class warfare. It seems to be working, especially among those who don’t make the effort to understand exactly what their definition of class warfare is. Using this inflammatory term has become as common as the Republican solutions to every social ill and economic problem that the U.S. faces: cut taxes and regulations. If only it was that simple; if only there was a proven track record that doing one or the other, or both, would solve all our problems.
Since roughly 1978, the disparity in income between the very top earners and middle class has been widening. The very wealthy have a grossly disproportionate size of the assets and income that has grown substantially. It wasn’t always this way, and it is not a good thing for our society. A strong middleclass is the backbone of our nation’s stability. There was actually a time in American history, in my lifetime in fact, where a corporate executive did not get bonuses and stock options for failure. Also in my lifetime the C-level folks actually planned long term for their companies and were patient in reaping the rewards. That all changed over the past 30 years or so. Boosting stock prices for the next quarter has become more important, never mind that this might run the business into the ground a few years down the road. But if the short term gain could get the big boys big bonuses, and if they could take the income as some form of investment, they could also save a ton of taxes legally by paying the lower investment tax rates. Mitt Romney excelled at this at Harvard Business School.
While the top people were making millions -- and even billions -- creating paper products that substantially contributed to the housing crisis and Great Recession, the middle and lower economic classes lost jobs, lost their health insurance, lost their retirements, lost the equity in their homes, went bankrupt, and so much more. So President Obama dared to try and implement Warren Buffet’s proposal of taxing those who make more than $1 million/year at thirty percent. Now keep in mind that our taxes are currently lower than at any time in sixty years. And the echo chamber roared, “Class Warfare!” Those who prospered during the past three decades and through the recession, those who have taken advantage of the tax breaks that only they qualify for, now object during the hard times to paying what they should have been paying all along. I wonder how many of those who have benefited supported the preemptive war in Iraq but didn’t want to pay for that either. I wonder if these same people would support a tax to pay our combat troops what they are really worth.
Florida has no state income tax and a low corporate tax. It should be a mystery to the class warfare defenders why Florida has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country. Why haven’t so many corporations left the high tax states to relocate to sunny Florida’s tax haven? Massachusetts and New York as an aside, two high tax states, also have two of the best public education systems in the country. I also wonder why the Republicans are so quick to support expensive and exotic defense weapons at taxpayer expense, but they won’t support job training programs that could help the middle and lower classes develop skills to find jobs that in turn would make taxpayers out of them. Instead we continue to hear the false argument that tax cuts will create jobs. They haven’t to date. We have the lowest interest rates in memory, which is the equivalent of a tax cut, but they haven’t done anything to move the housing market or cause businesses to spend and hire more employees. Could it be because consumer demand is what we need? Inflation is a fact of life and has been with us since the founding of our country. Yet the Republican doomsayers’ predictions that we would have out-of-control inflation right after Obama’s Stimulus never materialized. It’s not even on the horizon yet.
This class warfare mantra is a hoax. If anything, it is a war against those who have suffered the most because of the profligate ways of those who want to take us for another ride.