I screwed up the second of the three links yesterday – why do I keep doing that? – which I didn’t correct until nearly noon. So here it is again:

FAT-CAT TEACHERS

Jon Stewart, here.

CLASS WAR

Republican governors have declared it on the poor and middle class. Watch Rachel Maddow here as she covers Wisconsin, Florida, and Ohio. Then look what Michigan’s governor is trying to do – here. The problem in America today (apparently) is that the game is not already sufficiently skewed to the rich and powerful. These Republican governors aim to fix that.

☞ I realize it takes time to watch each of these clips, but try.

It all started in 1980, with the election of Ronald Reagan. He actually RAISED taxes on the working class (as he should have – Social Security needed to be put on a solid footing and he raised the payroll tax accordingly) even as he LOWERED the tax rate on the rich (as he also should have – 70% was nuts and counterproductive). But he went too far in helping the best off (even George H.W. Bush recognized that when he raised the top tax rate a bit) . . . and George W. Bush went absolutely crazy with the tax cuts for the best off, gravely weakening our national balance sheet and deeply widening the gap between rich and everyone-else to a level not seen since 1929.

Now the Republicans are trying to make things even better for the richest and most powerful – they want to make the tax cuts for the rich permanent, they want to break the unions, they have Justice Thomas’s wife on their payroll trying to take away the new health care benefits for the most vulnerable . . . and on and on.

When Jeb was governor of Florida, he had to look really hard for a way to cut taxes for the rich, because Florida has no income tax. He couldn’t cut the sales tax – that would help everybody, not just the rich. He couldn’t cut the property tax – ditto. So he eliminated the “Intangible Property Tax,” paid only by people (like me) with real money. It wasn’t an onerous tax (it basically said that if you had millions growing at 5.4% a year, say, the state would nick a little of that so that it grew at only 5.2% instead), and Florida needed the revenue; but Jeb eliminated it anyway. And not long afterward – citing Florida’s fiscal squeeze – he eliminated most of the funding for drug treatment (including in prisons, where arguably it is needed most).

We just couldn’t afford to help people get off drugs, because millionaires were in greater need of assistance, and in the real world you can’t do everything, you have to prioritize.

This is not to say Jeb saw no value in drug treatment programs. At the very same time as he was cutting funding for the public programs, he was paying out of his own pocket for his own child’s treatment. But that’s different. He could afford it, and cared about his own daughter enough to want to help her. He apparently saw no compelling public interest in helping the children of less affluent parents.

You have to set priorities, and the Republican priority, when it comes to taxation or regulation, is to help the rich and powerful. To oppose the minimum wage and the social safety net and collective bargaining. To oppose health insurance for children. To oppose worker safety regulation and consumer financial protection and all the rest.

They are totally entitled to prioritize as they do. But so are the bottom 98% entitled to reject their priorities and elect Democrats.

It’s class warfare, they started it, and they’ve been winning – big-time.

But that could change.

 

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