Monday, September 19, 2011

Class Warfare

Republicans are right. President Obama’s proposal to raise the taxes of rich people is class warfare. They’re damn right it is, and it’s about time.

It’s about time the president stepped forward and led a revolt against Republican insensitivity to the plight of the middle class and the working class.

Let’s be clear about one thing, however. Obama’s not the aggressor in this war. Republicans have been waging class warfare for decades, decades, at least as far back as FDR’s successful implementation of the Social Security Act, the setting of a national minimum wage and the formation of the Securities and Exchange Commission. The GOP has fought almost all attempts to protect and enhance the lives of working people and the middle class.

It’s class warfare when fat-cat Republicans carry the water for corporate America and the wealthy. It’s class warfare when they resist efforts to provide affordable health care to every citizen, regardless of their income. It’s class warfare when they try to dismantle social security, when they fail to provide adequate benefits to active and retired military personnel, when they work to overturn workplace and environmental protections, when they endeavor to cut back entitlement programs such as Medicaid, Medicare, Aid to Dependent Children, and school lunch programs.

Now, it could be argued Democrats started class warfare by passing all that progressive legislation. Guilty. With an explanation. Government has an obligation to care for and protect its citizens, not just in times of actual war but also when natural and man-made disasters jeopardize safety and even our existence. The Depression, poverty and discrimination fostered the need for corrective actions. Industry and private wealth have shown no continuous commitment to care for our countrymen, leaving it to government to hold the safety net for tens of millions of our citizens.

Obama’s problem is one of his own making. Instead of taking advantage of the strategic high ground his 2008 election provided, he has squandered his resources and allowed the GOP to outflank him and redraw the battle lines. Let’s face it—they have a much more effective PR campaign. They have defined Obama as the enemy of the common folk. Only now is he showing a determination to use his veto to exact the quid pro quo tax increase he has asked for in return for cuts in entitlement spending.

In this latest tussle over taxing millionaires, it’s hard to visualize a Republican-controlled Congress acquiescing, not when most members are millionaires themselves. They may be patriotic (well, maybe), but it’s doubtful they’re like billionaire Warren Buffett, willing to pay their fair share.