The Tea Party Economically Shot Themselves in the Face by Electing a Republican House
Incredible as it may seem, the Tea Party’s most notable accomplishment in the recent mid-terms has been, sadly, to insure a lifetime of middle and lower middle class existences for them, their children and their grandchildren.
I guess you do have to hand it to the Tea Party. They successfully delivered a Republican majority in the House of Representatives. As a result, the country now looks ahead to see how they will govern with a critical eye being on what they will do differently compared to what took place over the past two years. Let’s face it, if the electorate hands the House keys to the GOP it obviously means they believe a new cast of characters and a different majority power will bring different results.
The first battle line of the new dynamic in Washington appears to be over the Bush tax cuts that are scheduled to expire at the end of this year, primarily those that will impact the the richest 1% to 2% of all Americans. And, if we’re to believe what the Republican leadership is saying already, it appears that instead of focusing on spending and deficit reduction, which is what all the hysterical screaming seemed to be about from the Tea Party, the focus for the newly minted Republicans and their seasoned colleagues in Washington will be insuring that the wealthiest among us do not suffer a diminishment in their already robust bank accounts due to higher taxes.
Now, to understand where we are when it comes to the distribution of wealth in the U.S., it is helpful to look at what the top 1% or 2% of the wealthiest Americans, those that are the focus of the fight over extending the tax cuts, represent in terms of the total wealth in this country, and how that compares to other segments of our society.
In a recent article in the NY Times by Nicholas Kristof, he points out that “the richest 1 percent of Americans now take home almost 24 percent of income, up from almost 9 percent in 1976.” He also notes that “C.E.O.’s of the largest American companies earned an average of 42 times as much as the average worker in 1980, but 531 times as much in 2001,” and that “from 1980 to 2005, more than four-fifths of the total increase in American incomes went to the richest 1 percent”.So I guess it would be fair to say that as opposed to things getting worse for the wealthiest Americans in the recent downturn, the truth is that through both good and bad economic cycles, the rich did OK.
And why is it that the rich have prospered regardless of the economic pains suffered by the vast majority of Americans other than the top 1%? Well, that is a subject that is oft debated in the U.S. by politicians and pundits, and they all act like it is some extremely complex issue that defies an easy explanation. However, for those outside the U.S who can look at our country and our politics with an objective eye, it is anything but complicated. Just look at how Johann Hari of the British newspaper The Independent recently described the current leadeship of the Republican Party in straightforward, easy to understand, and damning terms…
John Boehner came from a poor family of twelve children, and heroically worked three jobs (including as a janitor) to put himself through business school. But when he got to elected office, it turned out that there was alot more money to be reaped from serving the interests of rich people than serving the people he came from. He took money from the insurance companies, and voted to deny healthcare coverage to sick children and to the people who hurried to the World Trade Centre on 9/11 to try to dig people from the wreckage, exposing them to deadly toxins. He took money from defense contractors, and supported every war going. He tirelessly champions the overdog, while hoovering up their cash and flying on their private jets to some of the most luxury resorts in the world.
In the campaign, Boehner said his priority was to “stand up for ordinary Americans” against “the elite”, and to “cut the deficit as a matter of urgency.” So what has been his first priority as Speaker? To fight furiously to keep the gigantic Bush tax cuts for the elite richest two percent of Americans, even though this alone will add two trillion dollars to the deficit over the next decade. It’s very revealing. He immediately dumps on his propaganda causes – ordinary Americans, and the deficit – while slavishly serving his one true cause: serving the interests of rich people like the ones who happen to pay for his campaigns and his jaunts.
So there you have it, a plain spoken and straight forward look at what is, and has been going on. No confusion over whether or not ending the tax cuts for the wealthy is really a socialist plot, will cause destruction of the free enterprise system, will guarantee the demise of small or medium or big business, and none of the other crap the Republican leadership and the Sunday talk show pundits throw around to obfuscate what is really going on and what the real truth is; namely that Republican control of the government and the economy for most of the last quarter century has allowed them to actively and intentionally redistribute the wealth of the country, all the while promoting an image of being fiscally conservative guardians of the common man.
So now, as Timothy Noah of Slate noted in an excellent series on inequality, the United States arguably has a more unequal distribution of wealth than traditional banana republics like Nicaragua, Venezuela and Guyana. And now that Republicans have regained power in at least one legislative branch, the prospects are that this inequality will only get worse, as their stated opposition to the repeal of the tax cuts for the richest 1% of Americans suggests.
One can only hope that the Americans who abandoned Obama and the Democratic Party in 2010 are going to pay attention so something can be done to reverse the disaster that will be Repulican governance over the next two years, governance that has already started based on the recent capitulation of the White House on the Bush Tax cuts as reported in the Huffington Post…
President Barack Obama’s top adviser suggested to The Huffington Post late Wednesday that the administration is ready to accept an across-the-board, temporary continuation of steep Bush-era tax cuts, including those for the wealthiest taxpayers. That appears to be the only way, said David Axelrod, that middle-class taxpayers can keep their tax cuts, given the legislative and political realities facing Obama in the aftermath of last week’s electoral defeat.
Of course, the tax relief afforded the average middle class American, around $1,132 for households with incomes between $50,000 and $75,000, is a pittance compared to the average of $17,500 in tax savings that people earning between $500,000 and $1 million get under the Bush tax cuts, or the roughly $100,000 average tax cut that households with more than $1 million in income receives.
So now this toxic Tea Party coalition, made up of people in varying degrees and numbers that…
- Have been hoodwinked by corporate interests into thinking the government is the only evil to fear,
- Have let irresponsible media voices frighten them into believing socialists are taking over the country,
- Are convinced that immigrants are murdering our children and stealing our jobs,
- Will buy into whatever wingnut conspiracy offered them from birthers to 9/11 being an inside job,
- Can’t accept there is black man in the White House, or
- Have an honest disagreement with Democratic policies and concerns over government spending,
…have put back in power the same people and the same party that not only contributed so much to the current
difficulties the country now finds itself in, but that will also certainly work to further increase the gap between the wealthy and average Americans like those in the Tea Party. Incredible as it may seem, the Tea Party’s most notable accomplishment in the recent mid-terms has been, sadly, to insure a lifetime of middle and lower middle class existences for them, their children and their grandchildren.