Class Warfare by David Atkins

Class Warfare
by David Atkins ("thereisnospoon")

Benjy Sarlin at TPM has a great article on the Republican move to play class warfare in pitting the 53% who pay income taxes against the 47% who don't. Digby and I have already gone into detail on why this supposed fault line is so bogus. Basically, the lower 47% of Americans are mostly poor, young, soliders, parents or some combination thereof. That 47% pay all sorts of other taxes besides income taxes that take up just as much or more of their total income as the total tax burden for other segments.

Sarlin's thesis boils down to the fact that since Democrats are playing "class warfare," Republicans have to as well. Democrats are trying to unite the poor and the middle class against the top 1%. In defense of the top 1% and their mostly ill-gotten gains, Republicans are attempting to united the 1% and the middle class against the poor.

The amorality of that stance aside, the fact that Republicans are forced to take this approach is remarkable in and of itself. Usually, Republicans simply scoff at Democratic attempts to point out the problems with income inequality. It's something new for Republicans to actually play class warfare themselves.

What it proves is that even Republicans know that the status quo system is broken. People used to be able to aspire to the American Dream. Now that dream is a distant joke for most Americans. There used to be enough money to have nice things in this country. Now there isn't. Somebody is to blame for that. Democrats know it. And even Republicans know it.

The new Republican push to raise taxes on 47% of the public is a clear admission by the GOP that the system isn't working, and somebody is getting away with something. Conservatives are pushing one last hurrah of ethnic and class-based resentment to save the goose of the top 1%. But it's a desperate gamble.

This isn't politics as usual, and it proves that Dems and progressives have a golden opportunity to capitalize on a key turning point. Everyone knows that one class or another is getting away with something. And the politics of pointing out mass disparities in income inequality and putting the blame on the uber-wealthy of Wall Street is insanely easy. The politics to raising taxes on the poorer half of Americans while letting Wall Street crooks skate free is infinitely harder. The progressive side of the argument also has the added benefit of being true.

This one should be a cakewalk for Democrats, if they only have the guts to ignore the fifth column that is the Third Way, and go for broke with a progressive populist message.