By Robert A. Vella
Time after time in America, the economic policies promoted by conservative Republicans, libertarians, and corporatist Democrats have repeatedly failed the nation. They caused the economic ruin after the Panic of 1893, the Crash of 1929, and the Financial Crisis of 2008. Those disastrous events are not unsolved mysteries. We know what happened. Political agendas based on draconian budget cutting, regressive taxation, deregulation, labor exploitation, and capital consolidation, were fundamentally responsible. And, it shouldn’t be surprising the 19th century Robber Barons and the later tycoons on Wall Street were big proponents of that strategy.
But, modern-day conservatives keep pushing those destructive economic policies. When an argument is repeatedly refuted by facts, the motivations of its advocates must be called into question.
Average real income in the U.S. grew by more than a third between 1979 and 2007. That’s great news for Americans, right?
Unfortunately, no. Not all Americans, anyway.
A new report from the Economic Policy Institute shows that all 50 states have experienced lopsided income growth in recent decades. In fact, between 1979 and 2007, the top 1 percent of U.S. taxpayers took home nearly 54 percent of the total increase in income.
To put it another way, while the bottom 99 percent of earners experienced an 18.9 percent average growth in income, the income of the top 1 percent grew more than 10 times that much — a whopping 200.5 percent increase.
Rep. Paul Ryan, that Republican “wonk” who has a really hard time making his numbers add up in his budgets, is now out with a report in which he’s trying to make friends with the “47 percent” by dismantling the social safety net. It’s nothing particularly new for Ryan, he’s been at “welfare reform” (i.e., slash domestic social infrastructure spending in order to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy) for a long time. But now he’s doing it by trying to co-opt the “moochers” into the deal by telling them it’s all about making their lives better.
Conservatives have long argued that they are not the ones who are truly undermining the poor. They’ve said that they aren’t the cruel ones, who would relegate them to a unending life of servitude and suffering. They argued that when you give a man a fish, he eats for a day, but when you give them a fishing rod, they eat for a lifetime.
Yet in fact their own policies would not only take away the fish (that’s provided in programs like WIC or SNAP) but they also would take away the rod (provided by Student Loans and Small Business Loans) because – Deficit Spending is so just like 12 Years A Slave – or something.
If you suspect Republicans meet secretly in dark, smoke-filled lairs plotting on ways to empower the rich by shafting the middle class and poor, would you be wrong?