The Watcher Cat

The Watcher Cat

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Democracy is Coming...on Economic Justice

So, in less than a month, we are going to have the Presidential election. We are entering the last four weeks of what has been an interminable campaign, with all the bile and nastiness of which modern American politics is capable.

After the 2010 election, which handed the House of Representatives to the Republicans, I commented that I did not "respect" the voters who made that choice, based on the kind of campaign that was run, the vacuity of the promises made, and the fact that the Bush era was seemingly forgotten less than two years after it ended. A conservative friend of mine chided me on this front, saying--with some justification--that not respecting the legitimacy of an outcome against my "team" is pretty much what I've been ragging on the Birthers and other Republicans who have been guilty of "othering" President Obama.

A fair point; what I had been trying to communicate is that democracy doesn't guarantee good outcomes, just that we all have a right to be heard in deciding the outcome. Which can be, as witness the results of Elections 2000 and 2004, just awful. That doesn't make the bad outcome illegitimate; it just makes it bad.

The race as it stands at the time of my writing this post is nearly a dead heat in the popular vote, and a smaller but still strong showing for Obama in the Electoral College. (Having been on the losing end of a tie in 2000, I'll take that kind of narrow win, if that's as good as it gets.)

It's coming from the silence
on the dock of the bay,
from the brave, the bold, the battered
heart of Chevrolet:
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.

In a story this week that got too little play amid the horserace news, we see that Bain Capital (through one of its many funds), in which Mitt Romney remains an investor, owns Sensata Technologies, which is closing a factory in Illinois two days before the election, and shipping the jobs, plant and equipment to China. The trustee of Romney's "blind trust", according to the NYT, "has said that "he will endeavor to make the investments in the blind trust conform to Governor Romney’s positions, and whenever it comes to his attention that there is something inconsistent, he ends the investment." Meanwhile, Romney blames Obama for employers off-shoring jobs to China. And misleadingly dodged Obama's correct statement that the US tax code wrongly rewards companies which offshore jobs by relying on the fact that the deduction applies to companies which move plants within the U.S. as well as without. Obama, of course, wants to limit the tax break to apply to domestic moves only.

Famously, of course, Obama bailed out U.S. automakers, as well as promoting their interests via-a-vis foreign competitors; Romney called for the Government to do nothing, and let bankruptcy law take its course.
It's coming from the sorrow in the street,
the holy places where the races meet;
from the homicidal bitchin'
that goes down in every kitchen
to determine who will serve and who will eat.
Despite his claim at the first debate with President Obama that he "will not reduce the taxes paid by high-income Americans," his website (visited today) explicitly calls for "permanent, across-the-board 20 percent cut in marginal rates." It's highlighted in blue. "Across the board" traditionally means for everyone, including the wealthy. He also calls for (same page) lowering corporate tax rates by 10%. (Not to defend President Obama's listless debate performance, but the protean nature of Romney's tax plan is pretty awesome; as a moving target, the only thing you can be sure of is that it's better for the rich than the rest; how it accomplishes that goal, however, is subject to radical revision without notice.)

This is important not as a game of "gotcha!," but because the middle class has been under significant pressure for over a decade. Even before the "Great Unpleasantness" of 2008, Jared Bernstein noted that "[t]he economy expanded over the 2000s, and working families were highly productive, as output per hour rose 18% from 2000 to 2007. But despite their contributions to the economy’s growth, middle-income, working-age households—those headed by someone less than 65—lost ground over these years. Their median income, after adjusting for inflation, fell $2,000 between 2000 and 2007, from about $58,500 to $56,500 (2007 dollars)."

[Click to embiggen, as we say online.]

Since then, the situation has only worsened, affecting attitudes and tempering hopes for the next generation--I know parents who are contemplating advising their children to pursue technical or trade education, instead of college, simply because they believe the situation for the next generation will be worse than for them.

Income inequality has skyrocketed since 2000, with the richest Americans claiming an ever-increasing slice of the pie. Romney has dismissedsuch concerns as "envy." President Obama has sought to restore progressivity to the tax code. He has also successfully championed legislation reforming America's health insurance system (which Romney would repeal, while lying about the extent to which he would do so). Obama also championed Dodd-Frank, which Romney would repeal and replace with--we don't know. He won't tell us.

But he has told us what he thinks of the 47% of Americans who get government benefits:

Romney now says that these comments "were completely wrong," and do not reflect his true views.

As the brothers at my Catholic high school used to say, he's not sorry; he just got caught. As I've suggested previously,both Romney and Ryan share a view that is at best paternalistic and more likely contemptuous toward the "takers" they find everyone who isn't a "job creator." I expect these priorities to be reflected in a Romney-Ryan Administration, if they are elected. You should too.
Sail on, sail on
O mighty Ship of State!
To the Shores of Need
Past the Reefs of Greed
Through the Squalls of Hate
Sail on, sail on, sail on, sail on.
Next Saturday: Social Issues

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