By Manifesto Joe
Although it's tempting, I'll refrain here from demonizing all Republicans. My wife appears to be the only Democrat in her large extended family, and some of my in-laws are the salt of the Earth. They just spend too much time watching Fox News.
Republicans appear, at present, to be inhabiting some alternate universe -- one in which prolonged tax breaks for rich people and giant corporations create full employment, one in which 46 million poor Americans are all feasting on junk food while they're not talking on their smart phones, one in which medically uninsured people don't end up costing taxpayers money anyway, one in which perpetual military meddling abroad doesn't end up making us targets at home -- etc., etc.
In other words, they live in an alternate universe that seems to bear no resemblance to the one in which most of the rest of us live.
I'll focus on two points that seem to sum up this phenomenon.
Republican response to Obama's tax plan
If there's one serious problem I have with President Obama, it is with his habit of trying over and over, despite numerous betrayals, to reason and compromise with the mentally disturbed. Until recent days, he's been far, far too nice.
Obama has flatly said that he will veto any deficit-cutting plan that cuts benefits for Medicare recipients yet does not raise taxes for wealthy individuals and big corporations. After about 32 months of trying in vain to work with crazy people, he's finally delineating the difference between us and them. It wasn't us who recklessly did our best to crash the world economy, or who have horded wealth from an economy that doubled in size over 30 years, while wages and salaries were stagnant. It was them.
Yet now, they want us to pay.
Obama's proposal for a minimum tax on rich people is, historically, pretty modest. But I still have yet to hear anyone in the Mainstream Media point out that, about the time I was born in 1956, the U.S. marginal income tax rate was close to 90%, and after JFK-era cuts remained 70% for many years.
It's true that not many high earners ever paid that much, thanks to shelters and loopholes. But even with some of those eliminated, bear in mind that only the most "left-leaning" people are proposing a marginal rate as high as 49%, compared to the 35% where the top rate stands now, with shelters and loopholes included. And it's been pointed out that investment income, the staple of the wealthy, is taxed at only 15%.
Here's a link to the Associated Press story about this.
Predictably, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., the ball carrier for the supply-side die-hards, has called Obama's proposal "class warfare." That phrase is sounding more hollow than ever, as we've been watching wealth be horded for three decades only to see an unemployment rate of at least 9% (not counting the many underemployed people, or those who have given up and stopped looking for work).
But that's the Republican mantra, despite abundant evidence that "supply-side" hording has not translated into job creation, and that our current "recovery" is weak because consumers simply don't have much money to spend.
Obama surely knows that his plan has no chance of passage by the current House of Representatives, and Speaker John "Orange Julius" Boehner has told him so. It's a proposal whose purpose is to beat pathologically stubborn Republicans over the head with around this time next year, as the election nears and the economy is expected to remain in the tank.
With a bad economy that may double-dip into recession, rhetoric crafted around this proposal may be the best chance Obama has for re-election, since a lot of people under such conditions will vote against the incumbent no matter whom it is.
Sigh. God must have loved stupid people. He made so many of them.
That said, on to the next Republican spectacle.
Tea Party trolls cheer hypothetical death during televised GOP debate
This is, of course, old news by now. The reason I didn't want to comment on it days ago is that it was too fresh, and I wanted more time to consider what's happening to the Republican Party.
In case you didn't see it or read about it, here's a link to the audience laughing and cheering at the Tea Party debate as CNN's Wolf Blitzer presses Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, about the hypothetical death of an uninsured man.
Granted, even Texas Gov. Rick Perry said that he was taken aback by the audience reaction. And, not all Republicans are Tea Party sympathizers. In the latest poll I've heard about, self-identifying Republicans are just about split up the middle about whether they approve of the Tea Party "movement."
But half of Republicans sympathizing with these sorts of attitudes and values should be a bit disturbing. And although Paul's rhetoric about self-reliance sounds oh-so-noble on its face, he's been around long enough to remember why Medicare and Medicaid were enacted in the first place.
Bills for the uninsured often weren't being picked up by churches, private individuals, etc., nor are they now. What happens now, more often than not, is that uninsured people go to taxpayer-supported charity hospitals for services. Either that, or the hospitals are forced to simply write off unpaid bills, and the taxpayer gets stuck with that in a different way.
Again, I am loath to demonize Republicans. They aren't all crazy. But they appear to be indoctrinated so well as to be impervious to reality, much as in the manner of religious fundamentalists. Ever tried arguing with one of those?
And, it would appear that a certain element among Republicans are indeed disturbed people, embracing cretinous and savage values and attitudes. And the party as a whole seems so frightened of losing elections that it panders to them.
This may not be a recipe for disaster next year. If the economy remains in the tank as it is expected to, any Republican nominee, even a somewhat crazy and/or stupid one, is likely to make next year's presidential election much closer than it should be. History favors them in the short run. But in the long run, this will be a recipe for disaster.
Institutions can go insane as easily as people can. While not all Republicans are crazy, as an institution, the Republican Party seems to have crossed into the territory of institutional insanity. I just hope that some kind of implosion can occur before they end up doing as much damage to the country as they seem to intend.
Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.