The Republican Strategy

bush tax cutsThe Republican strategy is to split the vast middle and working class – pitting unionized workers against non-unionized, public-sector workers against non-public, older workers within sight of Medicare and Social Security against younger workers who don’t believe these programs will be there for them, and the poor against the working middle class.

By splitting working America along these lines, Republicans want Americans to believe that we can no longer afford to do what we need to do as a nation. They hope to deflect attention from the increasing share of total income and wealth going to the richest 1 percent while the jobs and wages of everyone else languish.

Republicans would rather no one notice their campaign to shrink the pie even further with additional tax cuts for the rich – making the Bush tax cuts permanent, further reducing the estate tax, and allowing the wealthy to shift ever more of their income into capital gains taxed at 15 percent.

The strategy has three parts.

The Battle Over the Federal Budget

The first is being played out in the budget battle in Washington. As they raise the alarm over deficit spending and simultaneously squeeze popular middle-class programs, Republicans want the majority of the American public to view it all as a giant zero-sum game among average Americans that some will have to lose.

The President has already fallen into the trap by calling for budget cuts in programs the poor and working class depend on – assistance with home heating, community services, college loans, and the like.

In the coming showdown over Medicare and Social Security, House budget chair Paul Ryan will push a voucher system for Medicare and a partly-privatized plan for Social Security – both designed to attract younger middle-class voters.

The Assault on Public Employees

The second part of the Republican strategy is being played out on the state level where public employees are being blamed for state budget crises. Unions didn’t cause these budget crises — state revenues dropped because of the Great Recession — but Republicans view them as opportunities to gut public employee unions, starting with teachers.

Wisconsin’s Republican governor Scott Walker and his GOP legislature are seeking to end almost all union rights for teachers. Ohio’s Republican governor John Kasich is pushing a similar plan in Ohio through a Republican-dominated legislature. New Jersey’s Republican governor Chris Christie is attempting the same, telling a conservative conference Wednesday, “I’m attacking the leadership of the union because they’re greedy, and they’re selfish and they’re self-interested.”

The demonizing of public employees is not only based on the lie that they’ve caused these budget crises, but it’s also premised on a second lie: that public employees earn more than private-sector workers. They don’t, when you take account of their education. In fact over the last fifteen years the pay of public-sector workers, including teachers, has dropped relative to private-sector employees with the same level of education – even including health and retirement benefits. Moreover, most public employees don’t have generous pensions. After a career with annual pay averaging less than $45,000, the typical newly-retired public employee receives a pension of $19,000 a year.

Bargaining rights for public employees haven’t caused state deficits to explode. Some states that deny their employees bargaining rights, such as Nevada, North Carolina, and Arizona, are running big deficits of over 30 percent of spending. Many states that give employees bargaining rights — Massachusetts, New Mexico, and Montana — have small deficits of less than 10 percent.

Republicans would rather go after teachers and other public employees than have us look at the pay of Wall Street traders, private-equity managers, and heads of hedge funds – many of whom wouldn’t have their jobs today were it not for the giant taxpayer-supported bailout, and most of whose lending and investing practices were the proximate cause of the Great Depression to begin with.

Last year, America’s top thirteen hedge-fund managers earned an average of $1 billion each. One of them took home $5 billion. Much of their income is taxed as capital gains – at 15 percent – due to a tax loophole that Republican members of Congress have steadfastly guarded.

If the earnings of those thirteen hedge-fund managers were taxed as ordinary income, the revenues generated would pay the salaries and benefits of 300,000 teachers. Who is more valuable to our society – thirteen hedge-fund managers or 300,000 teachers? Let’s make the question even simpler. Who is more valuable: One hedge fund manager or one teacher?

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Comments

  1. says

    Yep, when everyone suddenly discovers that like everyone else they are in the poorhouse, then there will be a ‘backlash’ against the Republicans. Of course, it will be too late. Then as now, only more so, a few Republicans will be replaced by DINOs like Obama, and the upper crust will utterly own everything, including the law enforcers.

    The Goppies are now coming for us organized public workers, using convenient distractions such as commenter Mark T.’s above that some unions and ‘limousine liberals’ aren’t so great. (By the same logic, the fact that some corporations and CEOs aren’t so great should invalidate all corporations and capitalism.) As usual they peddle the dogma (attractive to the hyper-Ayn-Rand set which likes to denounce any sort of do-good in favor of selfish greed) that public service is disreputable and that the ‘private sector’ is inherently more virtuous. Of course they never mention that today’s ‘private sector’ is ever more divided into two parts: the serfs – who will get nothing no matter how much public workers are screwed and also reduced to serfdom, and the CEOs, who will get to keep even more.

  2. pigdog67 says

    People in the private sector have already been tossed off the bridge. A lot of dual income families have one spouse in the public sector to get a pension and healthcare and the other one in the private sector to get cashflow. Killing the pension/healthcare cow (in the public sector) will a large percentage of families hard. The good thing about this is that it will force people to wake up. Husbands that vote republican and work in the private sector will suddenly realize that when his wife lost her teachers pension that he lost his pension to. Then you will see a backlash against the republican party. Yes and Obama is a republican.

  3. Nate says

    As usual ;

    distortions of the facts and plain old _LYING_ .

    The fact is : Public Employees are less well paid that the private sector ones .

    The benefits are part & parcel of the hourly wage , a simple concept to grasp unless you’re a rich republican jerkoff who doesn’t pay their fair share of taxes anyways .

    WAKE UP AMERICA ! the prosperity you’re enjoiyed since WWII is *vanishing* before your very eyes and the Blue Collar worker – bees and Senior Citizens are _NOT_ who’s taking it from you ! .

    Your precious neo-cons and dumbshits like palin (nice tits, yes I agree) are ready to toss you off the same cliff they’re shoving the Worker Bees off of now…

    • says

      Nate your profane and obscene observations are not surprising. When liberals lack substance – almost always the case – they resort to distractions.
      First of all, class warfare, division and resentment are Democrat weapons. Always have been.
      The truth about public employee unions?
      The average Wisconsin striking teacher salary: $77,718 – Average Wisconsin worker’s salary: $53,724:
      http://www.thecloakroomblog.com/2011/02/average-wisconsin-striking-teacher-salary-77718-average-wisconsin-worker’s-salary-53724/
      The data in pdf format:
      http://www.wpri.org/WIInterest/Vol11No3/Niederjohn11.3.pdf
      Nate, behind your smoke-screen of ‘righteous indignation,’ this is what is really happening in Wisconsin, and soon to happen across the nation:
      Simple economic pressure and rule of law are finally catching up to teacher’s unions.
      There is no money to pay for their exhorbitant insurance and pension demands, and there is no money to support or cooperate with a system of collective bargaining that will further bankrupt the state.
      The whole notion of public employee unions using your tax dollars to lobby for more of your tax dollars is something that has to be stopped. It is bankrupting the states.
      The root cause of the vitriol and hatred evidenced by the teacher’s unions, the ‘international unions’ and the Communist Party present there and protesting in Wisconsin is their recognition that if the Governor and Legislature stand their ground, the liberal/progressive/Humanist grip on public education will be pried away.
      Teachers will be required to impart academic mastery, rather than indoctrinate or relax and sit through revolving, socially conscious, easy-to-present ‘awareness’ programs with students.
      Education has been dumbed down because of the deliberate shift away from academics and toward teaching the ‘proper,’ acceptable, politically correct ways liberals want students to think and speak.
      It has been a deliberate takeover of the public school system by social tinkerers and political activists.
      If they lose their poltical power and ability to dictate social norms in public school classrooms, they will have lost everything precious to them.
      The Wisconsin protests are not just about money.
      They are about teachers union’s terror over the diminishing influence of their Humanist faith.
      They are recognizing that no one wants their socialistic ‘salvation’ any more.

  4. Mark Thompson says

    I urge all to read “Rolling Stone Magazine: Obama’s Big Sellout. Imagaine, a guy from corrupt political machinery of Chicago in bed with Wall Street! Since Obama has been in office, Wall Street execs have made the largest bonuses and compensation packages EVER!

    Organized labor IS organized crime. The people with the most refuses to give anything. While the private sector workers are shelling out as mush as twenty percent of their own income in healthcare and or individual retirement plans, the greedy SEIU and other public workers are crying like a baby losing his rattle. The highest paid union members demand the lower paid non union workers pay for their benefits. Didn’t Obama say ” EVERYONE will pay? YOU LIE!! The Obama administration is giving waivers to political pro quid quo groups like the government unions.

    Bankruptcy! What don’t you understand about that word? Look at Greece, Ireland, and others across the pond. Remember the fable of the Ant & the Grasshopper? We are selfishly stealing from the very generation we expect to care for us and why should they after we shamelessly stole their future and locked them into financial slavery?

    When the limousine liberals ( Progressives ) will open their financial disclosures rather than hiding in tax shelters, tax attorneys, and overseas banks, will we listen. Until then let them eat cake or crow. From Jimmy Hoffa to Trumka, unions are and always will be corrupt, lazy, and dangerous. The polls, surveys, and common American has had it! The tsunami is rising!

    The Democrats have created this monster of public unions versus private unions NOT the Republicans, and like Dr. Frankenstein, the monster destroyed its creator.

    • John says

      No the Repubs have created this illusion. By the way, the corporate masters will only succeed when the right to union has been abolished. Most private sector jobs would not have as good pay, work hours or anything else without the work of unions and when they go away just wait until your non union job gets hit worse than ever before. If they can do away with unions, we will all be working in sweat shops.

  5. Don Duitz says

    Isn’t there anyone with a heart that has the ear of Obama? Why isn’t he getting the message that giving the “Reds” everything they want is killing the country and everyone except the upper 1%.
    Red is the Communist color as in blood; our blood! Corporations are now “individuals” according to the Court, that work together, like the old leaders in Moscow, to dictate everything. (It’s like Soviet Russia all over again with the wealth going to the leaders (the corporations) and peasants, the rest of us, getting the scraps.)
    Isn’t there anyone listening?

    • John says

      True but lets not make the case that the corporate masters are Reds. They are Capitalist pigs. Even worse than socialists. At least in socialist Europe they look out for one another. In this country it is all about private profit for the rich.

  6. says

    Well, now we find out what Obama and the democrats are made of if we didn’t know before. This is not a dangerous time but an opportunity for the Dems to once and for all take the side of working people against the oligarchy but will they do it? This is a fine article but it is time that working people be referred to as working class because of the definition of working people to who is the owner of the means of production, etc. When we use middle class we imply that all middle higher income people are in some way classless yet they depend upon their work to live also even if they own small businesses and/or are professionals. On the other hand those who own controlling shares in the corporations and their managment class, who are often given shares in the coporate wealth, i.e. stock, live by a different standard off the work of others. When we lose sight of this fact then we muddle around in bourgeosie sociological terms like middle class, upper middle class, and so forth and so on.

    • says

      No, dusty, this is where we see the Democrats parading around the Wisconsin Capitol with the Communist Party.

      This is where we see the Democrats so abysmally stupid as to ‘protest’ because teachers unions are petulantly refusing to pay at the rate of one half of the private sector for their own insurance and pensions.

      This is where we see the true, Humanist-indoctrinated colors of Democrats. So convinced of their righteous ideology that they would rather force the Governor’s hand and end up being fired, instead of imparting basic academic mastery to students.

      No! They would rather bus kids in and stand them up in front as if they have any idea of what is going on, or as if other peoples’ minor children should have a voice in anything happening at the Capitol!

      Such ridiculous, faith-based, Humanist-evangelized people!

      The first dominoes to fall, as liberals lose their grip on taxpayer-financed education.

      A grip they never should have had in the first place!

      Good riddance.

      • John says

        Such stupid dribble is all too pathetic. Or is it sheer stupidity at all.? Obviously you are so dummed down by the Republican corporate stooges that you willingly support your own demise at their very hands. Instead of loathing how union workers have better benefits how about loathing how employers have cheaped out on private sector workers. The fact is union workers don’t have better benefits, and they are not the cause of our financial crisis. If it were not for unions there would not even be a middle class in this country. The corporations have raped the people of their wealth and are now going for the throat in one last attempt to destroy all workers and permanently enslave them. Good luck thinking this is a Democrat problem. Both parties are owned by the corporations and bankers and you can only vote for who they approve. All the other stupid dribble talk as far as their ideological differences is just fluff that stupid people argue about as a distraction to take away the focus of the people on who is really running the show.

  7. Adam Eran says

    Worth a look: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/why-isnt-wall-street-in-jail-20110216. An excerpt:

    Over drinks at a bar on a dreary, snowy night in Washington this past month, a former Senate investigator laughed as he polished off his beer. “Everything’s fucked up, and nobody goes to jail,” he said. “That’s your whole story right there. Hell, you don’t even have to write the rest of it. Just write that.”

    Also worth reading: http://www.alternet.org/story/149019/, which notes that: As economist Dean Baker pointed out, “If the United States paid the same amount per person for health care as any of the 35 countries with longer life expectancies, we would be looking at huge budget surpluses for the indefinite future. ”

    If we paid only three times more than our nearest military rival (China) for “defense,” we’d have budget surpluses as far as the eye can see.

    One can’t help wondering whether the “drug war” isn’t also a contributor to this false crisis. The U.S. is only 5% of the world’s population but has 25% of its prisoners.

    …These are the elephants in the room, and the reason the oligarchy is scrambling to make as many distractions as possible. If we can only get the unions fighting each other, fighting the disabled, or the indigent elderly…if we can only get people concerned about that gay married Hispanic terrorist in the woodpile rather than the military-industrial-media-prison complex, then everything will be jake.

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