It’s quite an achievement: Today’s Republicans – members of the Party of Abraham Lincoln, after all — are steadily disproving one of Lincoln’s most quoted lines: “ You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.”
The current version of the GOP is doing a good job at trying to fool all of the people, all of the time. And, with the help of many Democrats, who give new meaning to the term, “fellow travelers.”
Case in point: The issue of the soon-to-expire tax cuts for the rich. The Bush tax cut legislation of 2001 included a provision that they would expire at the end of 2010, and tax rates would then revert to 2000 levels. The Obama administration wants to keep the tax cuts in place for the middle class, who would benefit from them during this continued economic near-depression; but let them revert back to previous levels for those with very high incomes, when they expire at the end of this year.
But guess what? The Republicans, together with a number of Democrats, are fighting vigorously to preserve the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. Republicans and their Democratic allies argue that it’s more beneficial to the economy to preserve the tax cuts for the wealthy – those making over $2 million a year — because that would help “small business.”
Tell me, how many small business owners make that kind of income? And how would we make up for the loss of revenue? By taking away benefits for the middle and lower classes, in the form of food stamps and other benefits or services.
This is where trying to “fool all of the people all of the time” comes in: The entire argument is disguised in Orwellian terms, as necessary and good way to benefit everyone. Writing in the New York Times, Paul Krugman exposes this with a good analysis of the deception and corruption behind it all.
For example, he points out that continuing the tax cuts for the rich would cost the federal government $680 billion in revenue over the next 10 years.
And where would this $680 billion go? Nearly all of it would go to the richest 1 percent of Americans, people with incomes of more than $500,000 a year. But that’s the least of it: …estimates are the majority of the tax cuts would go to the richest one-tenth of 1 percent. (and) the average tax break for those lucky few — the poorest members of the group have annual incomes of more than $2 million, and the average member makes more than $7 million a year — would be $3 million over the course of the next decade.
Krugman is right on target when he points out that
…it’s hard to think of a less cost-effective way to help the economy than giving money to people who already have plenty, and aren’t likely to spend a windfall. No, this has nothing to do with sound economic policy.
He also points out that this reflects our corrupt political culture,
… in which Congress won’t take action to revive the economy, pleads poverty when it comes to protecting the jobs of schoolteachers and firefighters, but declares cost no object when it comes to sparing the already wealthy even the slightest financial inconvenience.
So, what will prevail: The corruption, deception increasingly rampant in our culture – disguised in Orwellian terms, as “helping” you, the average American? Or Lincoln’s observation?