Watching how Republican presidential possibilities have been talking in the last couple of weeks, it’s pretty clear that they are going to focus on income inequality, but define income inequality as a problem that exists because the rich pay too much in taxes and the poor don’t pay enough. I know this sounds like a terrible strategy for the Republicans, and maybe it is, but I do believe in their ability to obfuscate an issue and twist meanings that the message of income inequality I hope the Democrats run on in 2016 will have a lot of difficulty motivating the public. In any case, reinventing the reasons for income inequality to fit Republican preferences to concentrate resources among the 1 percent is just another front in that party’s class warfare it has declared on working and middle class Americans. Krugman expands on how Republican governance is an exercise in fleecing the poor:
So, can anyone show me an example of a prominent Republican politician proposing anything that would reduce after-tax-and-transfer inequality? Bank shots don’t count — saying that slashing food stamps will help the poor by making them less dependent, or that cutting capital gains taxes will bring the confidence fairy to everyone’s door, don’t qualify. On the other hand, I’m not demanding that every part of a politician’s program reduce the Gini coefficient, or even that the overall program have that effect. I just want to see one significant piece that goes in that direction.
Maybe there’s something out there, but if so, I haven’t heard about it. Even when there’s something that sounds like it might be in that direction — say, Paul Ryan proposing that the EITC be extended to childless workers — there’s no talk of an increase in funding, so it’s coming at the expense of current recipients.
As I see it, this is the acid test — not because redistribution is always the most important thing, but because it’s how you see whether reformicons (no, spell check, I do *not* mean “reform icons”) are willing to do anything beyond putting the same old pro-plutocratic policies in new bottles. Show me the downward-flowing money!
Of course there’s isn’t any downward-floating money. Nor will there be any. And the same will be the case if a Republican wins in 2016, despite their attempt to co-opt the issue of income inequality.