Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Politics of the Rich

Here are some bits from a Robert Reich blog posting where he argues that Obama must not cave in to the Republicans:
The President says a Republican proposal to extend the Bush tax cuts to everyone for two years is a “basis for conversation.” I hope this doesn’t mean another Obama cave-in.

Yes, the President needs to acknowledge the Republican sweep on Election Day. But he can do that by offering his own version of a compromise that’s both economically sensible and politically smart. Instead of limiting the extension to $250,000 of income (the bottom 98 percent of Americans), he should offer to extend it to all incomes under $500,000 (essentially the bottom 99 percent), for two years.

The economics are clear:

First, the top 1 percent spends a much smaller proportion of their income than everyone else, so there’s very little economic stimulus at these lofty heights.

On the other hand, giving the top 1 percent a two-year extension would cost the Treasury $130 billion over two years, thereby blowing a giant hole in efforts to get the deficit under control.

Alternatively, $130 billion would be enough to rehire every teacher, firefighter, and police officer laid off over the last two years and save the jobs of all of them now on the chopping block. Not only are these people critical to our security and the future of our children but, unlike the top 1 percent, they could be expected to spend all of their earnings and thereby stimulate the economy.


The politics are even clearer. Over the next two years, Obama must clarify for the nation whose side he’s on and whose side his Republican opponents are on. What better issue to begin with than this one?

The top 1 percent now takes in almost a quarter of all national income (up from 9 percent in the late 1970s), and its political power is evident in everything from hedge-fund and private-equity fund managers who can treat their incomes as capital gains (subject to a 15 percent tax) to multi-million dollar home interest deductions on executive mansions.

If the President can’t or won’t take a stand now — when he still has a chance to prevail in the upcoming lame-duck Congress — when will he ever?
I'm betting the rich win this contest. They've won everything since the 1980 election of Reagan. They will only stop "winning" when they have completely wrecked the economy. To think that they will one day say "enough" and allow money to trickle down to the poor is to buy the same lie that Reagan retailed back in the 1980s.

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