Thursday, April 14, 2011

Shameless and Relentless

The Republican budget proposals rob the poor to pay the rich. There is no program they support that benefits working people. Yet there’s no treat for the rich that Republicans are not fighting for. And they never stop. When the economy’s booming, they say we can afford tax cuts for the wealthy and that we should bet Social Security on the stock market. When the economy’s tanking, they say that only tax cuts for the wealthy can stimulate the economy and that we can’t afford Social Security at all. They never stop trying to suck wealth out of the public to pay the rich. They never stop hunting any organization that seeks to equalize (democratize) power.

Two thought experiments will help illustrate these points. First, imagine the most cartoonish greedy CEO you can. Now think of the political and social policies he would support. Odds are these would place him somewhat to the right of the average Republican politician. But I think this CEO would still be welcome, if not celebrated, in today’s Republican party. Now imagine the cartoonish CEO gets a dose of pragmatism. He realizes he can’t get everything he wants right away. He sees he has to work incrementally. So he wraps up his true goals in arguments about “free markets,” “big government,” “rugged individualism,” and so on. After this change in tactics, our CEO is just a regular old Republican. You could picture this guy standing next to John Boehner, Eric Cantor, and Paul Ryan, telling us why the rich need tax cuts and the average workers need pay cuts.

The second thought experiment is more of a challenge: Try to think of a single institution--whether it’s a government program, an organization, or a policy—that builds power or quality of life for ordinary or disadvantaged people and is not reviled by Republican politicians and conservative pundits. Hmm, what’s something really basic and humane? How about an organization that registers poor people to vote and advocates for affordable housing for the poor? That organization was called ACORN and was successfully destroyed by a right wing smear campaign. How about just the ability to sit down in a green space and enjoy a beautiful day? Green space? You mean the city park, maintained with tax dollars, where Republican donors want to build a casino? When are you doing this sitting? On the weekend after your 40-hour work week, which was created by the labor movement in the face of violent resistance from big business? Is the air your breathing clean or polluted? You get the picture. Give it a shot.

They never stop gobbling up our money and never stop hunting down resistance. It’s Ebenezer Scrooge meets Gestapo.