Like other card carrying Democrats I’ve been accused of engaging in “class warfare” for my position on domestic financial issues, even though I may not qualify as a member of the “class” on whose side I’m supposedly engaged. My analogy to this martial lexicon is the equivalent of calling someone a rabble rouser for protesting a lynching. Or how about accusing America of warmongering in its response to Pearl Harbor?
I don’t deny the existence of class warfare. Some variation on it has been with us since the days when Alexander Hamilton represented the hoity toy, under the logo of Federalists, later to become Whigs and finally Republicans. Their rivals, led by Thomas Jefferson, worked more for the interests of the hoi polloi, first as Republicans and then morphing nominally into Democrats.
It’s unfair painting all members of the financial upper crust with a plutocratic brush. The generation of Kennedys that ended with the recent passing of its youngest member generally used its political influence to the detriment of its financial interests. On the other hand I can’t think of anyone starting at the bottom of the financial ladder doing favors for the well heeled without becoming one of them in the process as a consequence, if not a reward.
The Republicans’ one-size-fits-all solution to fiscal problems has been tax cuts, an area in which George W. Bush looked after them well. His tax rate on top income was 4.6% lower than it had been in the Clinton years. It would be fun hearing their shrieks if a proposal were made to cut taxes at the rate for the first $250 thousand or so for everyone from Joe Six Pack to the richest of the rich. Of course we’d continue hearing that lower taxes “create jobs” as they’re doing now.
How has the class war been going in recent years? (I’m glad you asked that question) Since 1979 the real average income for the top 5% of families has risen 88%. For the bottom 20% it has declined 1%. There may have been times when the contest has been close enough to be called a war. But this isn’t one of them. If the results of the past thirty years are any indication we seem to be looking at more of an occupation and resistance. It should be a fitting time for the plutocrats to break out the “mission accomplished” banner. Yes, the Bush tax cuts expire next year. But 4.6% off the top shouldn’t be that big a deal and giving back a few crumbs would be a fitting gesture. All things considered they will have had one hell of a run.