Sep 13, 2015

September 12, 2015: Salt in an Open wound, Compelling and Obvious, Deep Rouge and Tawdry Tinsel

Back in the campaign of 1988, George H.W. “Pappy” Bush, then Vice President of the United States, set the country a-titter when at a campaign photo-0p he discovered the check-out scanner at a grocery.  As he marveled at the technology, the country let loose a collective snicker, as once again the Bush family was demonstrating for all to see its collective ignorance of what is going on in America.  To suggest that the Bushes are out of touch is an understatement; no more so than his snot-nosed, drug-addled, alcoholic oldest son somehow construing Reaganomics with ‘compassionate conservatism’. 

Now we have presented before us the latest incarnation of the Bush Dynasty, one John Edward Bush, otherwise known as JEB.  In July, shortly after launching his campaign, Jeb solemnly announced that to his lights the economy would best respond if Americans worked longer hours.   Recoiling from a stinging rebuke from the Democratic National Committee, which issued a statement calling Bush’s remarks “easily one of the most out-of-touch remarks we’ve heard in this campaign cycle so far”(1), Bush protested that he meant part-time and underemployed workers need to work harder. 
It doesn’t matter that the jobs aren’t out there or that, according to a recent Gallup Poll, “that already many Americans employed full-time report working, on average, 47 hours a week, while nearly 4 in 10 say they work at least 50 hours a week.” (2)  Moreover, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, “US workers toil more hours than workers in any other large industrialized country.”(3) Conservatives in general, and the Bush’s in particular, have been of late fast and loose with the facts, betraying a casual relationship with reality. 

I can forgive the dolt his myopia if what he represents weren’t such a threat to the economic well-being of the country.  After all the Bush boys are a product of the country-club set, far removed from the cares and worries of middle class struggle. What troubles me is the rest of the statement.  Answering questions about his tax reform, Bush told the Manchester Union Leader that

“My aspiration for the country and I believe we can achieve it, is 4 percent growth as far as the eye can see. Which means we have to be a lot more productive, workforce participation has to rise from its all-time modern lows. It means that people need to work longer hours” and, through their productivity, gain more income for their families. That's the only way we're going to get out of this rut that we're in.”(4)
This, to me, is the most damning part of his statement.  Increased productivity, it should be obvious to even the most obtuse, has not brought relief to the middle class.  Take the current minimum wage as a case in point.  Adjusted for inflation, the minimum wage would be—in 1968 dollars—about $16.00 an hour.  But Adjusted for increase in productivity, we would have to raise the minimum standard to about $21.00 an hour.  Using this index one can gain a rough estimate of how much of the increase in productivity has been ripped off by the investment class, the top 10% of wage-earners, and especially the top 1%.   Seen another way, the top 1% have taken the entire wealth generated by the recovery since 2007, and the top 10% have stolen in the neighborhood of over 110% of the new wealth.  The question remains:  Since the median household income has actually declined over the last 30 years and, as has been reported in this column, it has declined in all 50 states in recent years, what has happened to all this increased wealth?  The answer is at once compelling and obvious, it’s gone to the capitalist pig.

In this context, Bush’s remarks represent a cruel hoax, an insult, a pouring of salt into the wound.

If this weren’t enough the snot-nosed little lord Fauntleroy has earlier this week, unveiled his ‘new’ tax plan.  Professor Robert Reich describes it thusly:

 “Frankly, I have never seen proposed such a huge transfer of income and wealth to the very top. According to Josh Barro of the Times, the plan would save each member of America's top 0.01 percent an average of $1.5 million a year.

A few details: The plan cuts the top federal income tax rate from today’s nearly 44 percent (including the Obamacare surcharge) to 28 percent, cuts the top tax rate on capital gains and dividends, and abolishes the estate tax, and reduces the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent.

Yes it expands the Earned Income Tax Credit for the working poor and raises the standard deduction for the middle class—but these are tiny compared to the huge giveaway for the top.

It would cost some 3.4 trillion over 10 years.  To pay for this Bush would cut spending

(He doesn’t indicate where the cuts would come from), cut back federal regulations, and allow big corporations to repatriate the hundreds of billions they’ve stashed overseas.

This is a bigger version of the trickle-down voodoo economics his brother unleashed upon America (which itself was a bigger version of Reagan’s voodoo trickle-down economics).

That this plan comes from the Republican Party’s most establishment candidate—at a time when the wealthiest Americans are raking in a higher share of the total national income     and wealth in more than a century, when the middle class is shrinking, and when almost 1 in 5 of America’s children are in poverty—reveals, as if we needed more evidence, the utter moral bankruptcy of today’s Republican Party.” (4)

Indeed, after laboring mightily, the Republican ‘establishment’ to presenting the struggling middle class with these dog-eared bromides, present nothing less than an assault upon our collective intelligence. History repeats itself: A Bush expressing concern, if not compassion, for the struggles and travails of Middle America only to reveal himself to be nothing more than a Koch-addled, curb-crawling practitioner of the world’s oldest profession, once again gussied up in deep rouge and tawdry tinsel, displaying itself as “Republican Principle.   False pearls before real swine.
2.     Ibid
3.     Ibid
4.     Robert Reich, Facebook post 9/12/15

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