Income disparity shows middle-class conservatives on wrong team
by Kevin Foley
January 09, 2014 11:55 PM | 2061 views | 3 3 comments | 38 38 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The median household income in America fell from $51,100 to $51,017 in 2012, more than 8 percent below its pre-recession high in 2007, according to the Census Bureau.

Meantime, from 2009 to 2012, the incomes of the top 1 percent jumped 31 percent.

This is what Democrats mean when they talk about income inequality; if you’re at the top, you’re doing well; if you’re among the other 99 percent, not so much.

“American inequality began its upswing 30 years ago, along with tax decreases for the rich and the easing of regulations on the financial sector. That’s no coincidence,” explains Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz. “It has worsened as we have under-invested in our infrastructure, education and health care systems, and social safety nets.”

We’ve “underinvested” because the 1 percent, whose interests are tirelessly advocated by House and Senate Republicans, don’t need infrastructure, education, health care or social safety nets. They have private limos, private jets, private schools, private colleges, private hospitals and piles of private cash.

This simple logic often draws the charge of “class warfare” from the right. What’s ironic is that many who parrot this popular conservative prevarication are themselves in the middle of the middle class, watching their own incomes stagnate or fall.

As the 2014 midterm election approaches, voters will hear a lot about income inequality. President Obama has lately been ripping nonexistent “trickle down economics” while blasting the absurd notion that godly “job creators” will selflessly look out for the interests of the middle class and poor.

“The combined trends of increased inequality and decreasing mobility pose a fundamental threat to the American dream, our way of life, and what we stand for around the globe,” Obama said last month, calling on Republicans to act.

“You owe it to the American people to tell us what you are for, not just what you’re against,” the president added.

We know Republicans were against Obama’s 2011 jobs bill that would have put a million or more unemployed Americans back to work and be fully paid for in 10 years, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office.

In addition to cutting payroll taxes for small businesses, Obama’s jobs bill would have funded critically needed infrastructure projects important to the middle class and poor including schools, highways, and bridges.

It would also have provided funding for more firefighters, police officers and teachers, the latter of which Cobb County could sorely use today.

But Republicans protected their wealthy patrons, refusing to pass the jobs bill because it would have added a 5.6 percent surtax on those earning over $1 million per year.

So instead of finding jobs, 1.3 million unemployed Americans had their Emergency Unemployment Compensation cut off just in time for Christmas by Georgia Reps. Phil Gingrey, Tom Price, Jack Kingston, Paul Broun and the rest of the Republican Scrooges.

“The government destroys wealth,” growled Rush Limbaugh last week. “El Rushbo,” who makes $70 million annually and benefits from Republican obstruction, would be in no danger of going on food stamps if he had to pay the 5.6 percent surtax.

Likewise, Las Vegas gambling tycoon Sheldon Adelson, who blew more than $100 million on Obama attack ads in 2012, is worth nearly $30 billion. The surtax on Adelson’s income would represent a rounding error.

To the extent there is any class warfare today, it’s being viciously waged by the GOP on the middle class and poor, not on Rush Limbaugh and Sheldon Adelson.

Cobb County voters who say they’re conservatives should ask themselves if their continued support of Republican candidates is hurting their own pocketbooks.

Harry Truman has the answer for them: “If you want to live like a Republican, vote Democratic,” an axiom truer today than when Truman coined it.

Kevin Foley is an author, writer and public relations executive who lives in Kennesaw.
Comments-icon Post a Comment
Craig B
January 13, 2014
Its a bit disingenuous to suggest that tacking an additional 5.6% on a few thousand people is going to solve the plight of the poor. Increasing taxes are not going to help the poor. They are going to help the government. Just last year alone, half of the income tax filers didn't pay any taxes and 100 million people received nearly a trillion dollars ($9K/person) in government benefits to help alleviate "poverty". You cant depend on the government to provide prosperity to people by taxing 1 group of people. It has a diminishing return and wont provide the jobs that poor people need. Its time to stop taxing labor and capital and obscene rates (15-40%) and scrap the tax system. We need a broader, lower, and simpler system. Even God himself only requires 10% from His people. Why should the government get more than that?
Republican No More
January 29, 2014
Smoke and mirrors, Craig. 5.6% on the income of a few thousand people who own over 50% of ALL the wealth in American adds up to some significant revenue.

Let's be clear: half of the income tax filers didn't pay any INCOME tax because they are too poor to meet the minimum criteria. Have some pity on them if you call yourself a Christian. They still paid state and local taxes, social security/payroll taxes, and sales taxes.

You state that you can't depend on the government to provide prosperity. But the government can provide better schools for people to educate themselves, better health care to advocate preventative care that curbs escalating hospital costs and better infrastructure so that people don't have to rely on fossil fuels and cars to get to their jobs.

And "god himself" and his 10%. Really? In 2014? What about Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, agnostics, atheists, and non-evangelical Christians? Why should they be subjected to an arbitrary percentage that one faith tries to apply to others? That's not the American way, where we have freedom of religion and freedom FROM religion. This country was founded to avoid the (now-defunct) theocracies of Europe. Never forget that.
Mike H
January 10, 2014
Howard Dean once said that Southern white males should be Democrats. They have bad jobs with bad pay,and few benefits. Their kids go to bad schools and have few good job opportunities.

Gov. Dean doesn't know much about the power of racism to make people fight against their own self interest.
*We welcome your comments on the stories and issues of the day and seek to provide a forum for the community to voice opinions. All comments are subject to moderator approval before being made visible on the website but are not edited. The use of profanity, obscene and vulgar language, hate speech, and racial slurs is strictly prohibited. Advertisements, promotions, and spam will also be rejected. Please read our terms of service for full guides