Monday, May 05, 2008

Class Warfare

A couple of days ago I took apart a really bad editorial by Gary MacDougal, but I think something more needs to be said. MacDougal writes,
Each year the federal government spends hundreds of billions of dollars - specifically, more than $10,000 per poor person for welfare, Medicaid, the earned-income tax credit, job training and food stamps. Put another way, taxpayers are doing their share.
From a wealthy guy writing a mass market editorial, what does this really mean? To me, it's a reminder to his readers that if we pay more money to help the poor, "It's coming out of your pockets."

With Bush slashing taxes for the rich, we often hear it explained that "it's only fair" that the rich got tax cuts - they pay most of the nation's income taxes, and "if everybody else is getting a cut" why shouldn't the people at the top get one as well? On a superficial level, it's a reasonable position to take. But if you look at the economic realities faced by the middle class, it's actually an argument that defies an increasingly ugly reality. Middle class people, particularly middle class families, are financially squeezed. No, of course middle class people don't want to pay more taxes, and it's not because of "greed" or "anti-tax" sentiment - they're tapped out.

So on top of their notion that it's "unfair" to give tax cuts based upon need rather than tax bracket, wealthy class warriors frame these issues as "any help to the poor will increase the tax burdens on working people." And that's before noting the misrepresentation and sleights of hand in the budgetary projections that supposedly justified the tax cuts, or the Bush Administration's dogmatic insistence (apparently now joined by McCain) that the proper response to every economic situation (a strong economy, a sluggish economy, a stagnant economy, a weak economy or a recession) is to cut taxes (particularly for the rich). What they seem to intend, and the Grover Norquist types explicitly advocate - is a collapse of the government's ability to pay for more than "basic" services - and if they're not personally driving over the bridge that's on the verge of collapse, repairing or replacing the nation's crumbling infrastructure simply doesn't interest them. The express line for first class passengers through airport security, on the other hand... That's a good use of your tax dollars.

1 comment:

  1. Via TPM, on Fox, some wealthy gasbags pontificate on class.

    Brit Hume: "Everybody at this desk has got a college degree, I think. We all work. Why aren't we all 'working class'?"

    . . .

    Fred Barnes: "Mort couldn't explain it, but I can explain to you why we use the term 'working class'. It's a euphemism because it's kind of mean to say lower class. It's as simple as that."