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The Other Side of the Tracks blog by Word Press

Taking the Wrong Class

The Other Side of the Tracks: A Socially Speaking commentary

September 20, 2011

By Perry Redd


You should be as sick of it as I am…Republicans twisting an issue of national importance into an impossible proposition.  This time, it’s taxes.  After the debt ceiling was raised last month, the issue was certain to re-surface since the agreement was just an extension.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin), on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace, slammed Obama’s proposed “Buffett Rule.” “If you tax something more…you get less. If you tax job creators more, you get less job creation. If you tax investment more, you get less investment,” Ryan argued.  Strangely enough, the Bush tax cuts had not created those jobs Ryan speaks of. In the decade of operating under those tax cuts, there had been zero net job creation since December. No previous decade going back to the 1940s had job growth of less than 20 percent. American household income declined and there were two recessions, bookends to a debt-driven expansion that was neither robust nor sustainable.

Ryan insisted that the best plan is to lower taxes on job creators and investment. Obama’s new tax rate for millionaires “is going in the wrong direction. Let’s not forget that under the current law that the president has already passed, the top tax rate on individual and small businesses in 2013 goes to about 44.8 percent,” Ryan explained.

Ryan accused Obama of inciting “class warfare” with his proposed tax increases and added “class warfare…may make for really good politics but it makes for rotten economics. We don’t need a system that seeks to divide people.”  Let us not forget that the tax rate for millionaires and corporations is currently lower than that of the working class.

It appears that since he brought it up, then he—Ryan—has evoked class warfare. So, let’s examine the differences between Ryan’s Republican definition and the other side of the tracks.  Obama calls it “shared sacrifice.”  Ryan terms it “class warfare.”  Has it not been class warfare for the past 30 years?  Programs to aid the poor have been under attack.  Legislation aimed at relieving minority disparities and social ills has been under attack.  Regulations designed to protect the American consumer has been under attack, and unions have been under attack for 30 years—since the days of Ronald Reagan.

These battles to save or expand social programs and to protect Americans from unsafe products and unhealthy foods have not hurt rich people.  Only poor and working class people have been adversely affected in the aftermath of partisan battles over policy cuts.  If working class and poor people suffer from such battles, I pose the rhetorical question: Who benefits?

Ryan argued that Obama’s deficit reduction plan will impede job growth. “We need a system that creates jobs and innovation, and removes these barriers for entrepreneurs to go out and rehire people. I’m afraid these kinds of tax increases don’t work,” Ryan said.  The problem with his position is that the Republican plan hasn’t worked—in over three decades!  Employers get tax breaks for hiring, tax abatements for investment risks and a lower tax rate—and they still aren’t hiring!  Banks are hoarding surplus cash and refuse to loan to smaller businesses, so those businesses can’t hire.  How is that Obama’s fault?  The tax cuts of the last decade have not resulted in greater prosperity, more jobs, nor more innovation.

Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) said that Republicans working with Democrats in the newly-created “super  committee” will be open to compromise on solutions that stabilize the economy in the coming months.  But then he said, tax increases on millionaires are “off the table,” and with a straight-face response to the “Buffet Rule,” McConnell asked “Why doesn’t Buffet just write a check?” So which is it: compromise or a “my way” stance?  Will you or won’t you?

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) applauded the worthy goals of cleaning up the tax code and reducing long-term deficits, and he gave us reason to feel positive about how to achieve them. “If we want to create a better environment for job creation,” the Speaker said, politicians of all stripes can leave the ‘my way or the highway’ philosophy behind.”  But then, his party’s echo chamber parrots that Obama’s proposed tax increases for millionaires are “off the table.”

And the American people complain that Congress is getting nothing done?  Get it right: it’s Republicans who are paralyzing Congress’ work!

Sure, I’m pretty upset with Obama for his threeyears of compromising with Republicans when they have done everything conceivable to ensure that he fails, but I have to ride with him on this.  The Republicans twist the truth and unfortunately, the very ones who the President is trying to help—the working class, Right-leaning whites—stand in opposition to him, for unjustifiable reasons.

The President has committed to veto any bill that comes to his desk that is not balanced.  Rich people in America (and corporations have insanely been determined to be “people” too)  need to make just as much a sacrifice as the working class is being ask to make.  Anything less is indeed, class warfare.  It’s just that the war has been declared on the poor class.  We know this. When Republicans call Obama’s proposed tax increases on millionaires anything other than a shared sacrifice, it‘s disingenuous. Do not allow them to dictate this narrative—not this time. I want you to know this and demand that Republicans be honest about it.  Anything other is disingenuous. It’s about class; it’s just that Republicans are taking the wrong class.

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