I try to follow the GOP contest, I really do, but I don’t have the stomach to watch the debates. I read about and watch news coverage of them later — the swings between smarminess and plain old meanness are just hard for me to take in large stretches.
And, if attacking each other doesn’t bring them the poll and primary results they want, well, then they turn their focus to us… or should I say they turn a very narrow focus on those of us who are not like them: not Christian enough; not straight enough; have too many ovaries (and many of us do); or are not wealthy enough.
The final one seems to be the attack du jour. Any new tax proposed on the wealthiest — a category into which most of them fall — is attacked as “class warfare” or attacking the “job creators”. Anyone who has been, or who knows someone who has been, laid off by a firm like Goldman Sachs or by a Bain company and sees the CEOs of these kinds of companies rake in huge salaries, knows that calling them “job creators” is an oxymoron. Profit creators or personal wealth accumulators, maybe.
This “class warfare” hooey is their most recent variation on this theme. Their argument that increases taxes on the wealthiest is “class warfare” is ludicrous — and insulting. Warren Buffet has pointed out that he pays less in his taxes than his secretary (he, unlike the GOP candidates, wants to right this); Mitt Romney’s tax returns reveal that he pays just 13.6% (the lowest among the candidates while his income is the highest). Yet, they all act like stopping Bush (and the Boehner-led continuation) tax breaks will be the end of them. If that was all that the government managed to do, it would be a NET ZERO for these folks, not an increase. And just that alone has raised their hackles. Talk of raising taxes for the top tier has caused the GOP contenders to cry “class warfare”. Seriously?
Philadelphia, for example, has a poverty rate of roughly 25%, and closer to 30% for African Americans. Why is it not “class warfare” to attempt to take away from people in our cities and towns who have nothing to take? Parents in University City (part of Philadelphia) camped on the street to get their kindergarteners into a good public school (one that’s a partnership with the Univ of PA), and parents around the country stress about winning lotteries so their children can attend Charter schools. Why isn’t failing our children – and their (and our!) futures – with poor, under performing schools not “class warfare”? And, why (yes, one more…I’m on a tear) is the constant argument about extending unemployment benefits, during what is widely acknowledged to be a bad economy with limited job growth (knock, knock…hello? job creators?), not considered “class warfare”? Yes, like in any civilization (and, lately, I use that term loosely, but that’s for another time), there are people who will abuse the system, but to attack the vast majority and try to withhold assistance/support by focusing on a few bad eggs is just wrong. Dare I say sinister? The GOP candidates, while espousing a return to the Christian values upon which this country was founded (oy. I’m not going there either right now), barely conceal their contempt for the “others,” the “least among us”. They want to help the “job creators” while those like Romney and NY’s Mayor Bloomberg shield their investments off-shore, while companies like Goldman don’t hire, or the GOP-led Congress bickers about wage taxes. They spout off about the personal and economic benefits of people helping themselves, the proverbial pulling themselves up by their boot straps, yet every suggestion that might lead in this direction (be it a tax on the wealthiest or a program for the poorest) is “job killing” or detrimental to “job creators” (that great oxymoron). They subscribe to the old adage that if you “give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime.” Unfortunately, any program that might help provide fishing rods, reels and bait, give fishing lessons or provide access to the good fishing holes…? Well, they take money away from “job creators” so they won’t work either.
And the boot straps by which we’re supposed to pull ourselves up? They’ve been outsourced by the “job creators” to a country with cheap labor, and straps may no longer be strong enough for that pull. But the “job creators” have saved a buck so I guess that’s supposed to help us all somehow.