The solution to the economic crisis is simple and shouldn’t be political. The poor and middle class conservative isn’t entirely wrong about taxes, job insecurity in the private sector, and unaffordable health care premiums. But instead of fighting to keep more of their money in their tax bracket, they’ve been tricked into fighting for the wealth-fare class, whose sources of income and tax breaks are on a completely different level.
Remove from the equation that Democrats don’t mind paying their fair share of taxes, and Republicans don’t believe that any tax is fair. That’s an ideological difference.
But the goal of the poor and middle class liberal and conservative is the same; low taxes, reigning in health care costs and job security/decent wages. Instead of defending tax breaks unique to the top 5 percent of income earners, whose entire income over $106,500 is exempt from the Social Security tax, lower dividend income tax etc., we could level the playing field by instituting a tax increase to make up for that disparity. Which leads me to Robert Reich’s article warning Democrats that if they can’t form a coherent message filled with facts and the truth, Republicans will convince us all we don’t deserve to be paid much more than minimum wage and we’re lucky just to be working.
You can’t fight something with nothing. But as long as Democrats refuse to talk about the almost unprecedented buildup of income, wealth, and power at the top – and the refusal of the super-rich to pay their fair share of the nation’s bills – Republicans will convince people it’s all about government and unions. The Republican message is bloated government is responsible for the lousy economy that most people continue to experience. Cut the bloat and jobs and wages will return.
Nothing could be further from the truth, but for some reason Obama and the Democrats aren’t responding with the truth.
The truth is that while the proximate cause of America’s economic plunge was Wall Street’s excesses leading up to the crash of 2008, its underlying cause — and the reason the economy continues to be lousy for most Americans — is so much income and wealth have been going to the very top that the vast majority no longer has the purchasing power to lift the economy out of its doldrums. They’re not going to the malls (high-end retailers are booming but Wal-Mart’s sales are down).
The truth is if the super-rich paid their fair share of taxes, government wouldn’t be broke. If Governor Scott Walker hadn’t handed out tax breaks to corporations and the well-off, Wisconsin wouldn’t be in a budget crisis. If Washington hadn’t extended the Bush tax cuts for the rich, eviscerated the estate tax, and created loopholes for private-equity and hedge-fund managers, the federal budget wouldn’t look nearly as bad … And if America had higher marginal tax rates and more tax brackets at the top – for those raking in $1 million, $5 million, $15 million a year – the budget would look even better.
We wouldn’t be firing teachers or slashing Medicaid or hurting the most vulnerable members of our society. We wouldn’t be in a tizzy over Social Security. We’d slow the rise in healthcare costs but we wouldn’t cut Medicare. We’d cut defense spending and lop off subsidies to giant agribusinesses … but we wouldn’t view the government as our national nemesis.
These are the truths that Democrats must start telling, and soon. Otherwise the Republican shakedown may well succeed.