When you lose even the hippies at Bloomberg...
by David Atkins
The noted liberal hippies at Bloomberg have a message for the modern, Ayn Randian Republicans:
This was written by the editors at Bloomberg, and there's much more there than this excerpt.
As we listen to Republican candidates and voters across the country, we hear something less admirable: carping about people who are on government support. Some speak disparagingly of them as the “moocher class” for paying no federal income taxes while getting food stamps, government health care and unemployment checks...
To all of the above, the moocher class -- this election year’s agitprop -- is the country’s biggest problem. It’s not. By claiming that it is, Republicans do a disservice to the party and to the national debate.
The U.S. in fiscal 2012 will spend about $210 billion on food stamps, unemployment insurance and welfare. Add in Medicaid and the tab swells to about $485 billion. Still, it’s small beer compared with the $1.3 trillion the U.S. will spend on Social Security and Medicare alone. Include $700 billion for defense, and the moocher class’s bounty looks even smaller.
And that doesn’t account for the ample government benefits -- farm subsidies, oil and gas allowances, and other corporate welfare -- many moocher-class critics get, or the tax breaks for mortgage interest, employer-provided health insurance and charitable contributions.
The moocher-class mythologists forget that the U.S. just went through its worst recession in 75 years, and that unemployment has exceeded 8 percent for almost four years. The U.S. is on the verge of having a permanent jobless class made up largely of middle-age workers whose occupations have been destroyed because of automation and globalization.
The moocher fabulists also ignore data showing that U.S. incomes have stagnated for a decade, and that inequality has skyrocketed. The top-earning 1 percent of households now bring home about 20 percent of total income, versus about 10 percent in 1970. Recent studies conclude that upward mobility is easier in Europe than in the U.S. So much for Republican nightmares about the U.S. becoming a European-style welfare state.
The Pew Research Center reported last week that the U.S. middle class just experienced a lost decade, shrinking for the first time since World War II. Its median household income fell 4.8 percent to $69,487 in 2010 from an inflation-adjusted $72,956 in 2001. Median wealth (including retirement savings and home values, minus debt) tumbled an even greater 28 percent, to $93,150 from $129,582, largely because of the housing crash.
Another party shibboleth is that Obama’s stimulus spending shifted wealth from “makers to takers.” It’s more accurate to say that the stimulus -- by most economists’ reckoning, required medicine -- was a giant earmarking exercise that sent tax dollars back to the districts of lawmakers in both parties. Without it, an economy that shrank 6.3 percent in 2008 would have fallen into an abyss.
It's important to remember that the "business community" in the United States is not united behind the extreme rightist vision, even in the wealthy FIRE sector. Modern conservatism is the a radical creation of a subset of a radical subset of well-heeled greedheads and sociopaths, and only survives with the votes of the increasingly aging people who resent the idea that we're all equally human with equal rights.