The GOP and class warfare


Every political consultant knows that words like "together" and "unite" play well with voters. That's why you hear them so much on the campaign trail, from races for local office to presidential campaigns. Remember Obama's signature speech, with his signature line?

Now even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us, the spin masters, the negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anything goes. Well, I say to them tonight, there is not a liberal America and a conservative America - there is the United States of America. There is not a Black America and a White America and Latino America and Asian America - there's the United States of America.

Now the Republicans are claiming that it's the Obama administration that's dividing America:

Democrats will "poison the American spirit by pitting one American against another and engaging in class warfare," Romney said. "I believe in an America that is one nation under God, and I will keep it that way."

But here's the thing: Obama actually tried to work with both sides. I wish he hadn't tried so hard, since the Republicans have no interest in helping him govern, but you can't say he was a divider. The GOP candidates, on the other hand, can't possibly succeed without being divisive; as Kos points, that's all they have:

Their entire schtick is predicated on pitting Americans against Americans. Without such demonization, they would be unable to function as an ongoing concern.

I don't have to run for office, so I can get away with saying this: I am not a uniter, not in the sense that the politicians are using the word. I want us all to get along and I'm not a fan of violence, but there's already a war on in this country. There's a class war -- and our side didn't start it. Americans have already been pitted against each other -- not by Obama but by a small group of the very rich and the political toadies who support them, who have systematically dismantled the tax, education and service system that once made at least an attempt at creating a country with a level playing field, a stable middle class and an income and wealth distribution curve that wasn't grossly distorted.

The one percent has declared war on the rest of us. And we're supposed to sit here and take it and not fight back?

Or should we attempt to drown corporatocracy in the bathtub?


But thanks for the manifesto-by-numbers. Did 300,000 odd people really get together and declare war, or is that simply one of your overwrought metaphors? And this might be news to you, but a goodly portion of that "small group of the very rich" is, in fact, on your side -- just ask the Tides Foundation.

Posted by Chromefields on Jan. 04, 2012 @ 1:23 pm

The only class in America is those who wish to succeed. Some do and some do not. But only you want to those who lost to gang together and try and take from those who won, what they made thru honest work.

Class warfare permeates your soul. For most of us, it's old-style European politics.

Posted by Anonymous on Jan. 04, 2012 @ 1:30 pm

art evans lives on in the comments.

Posted by guest on Jan. 04, 2012 @ 1:37 pm

Are you actually saying that all of the unemployed people and people who are losing their homes don't "want to succeed?" Gak.

Posted by tim on Jan. 04, 2012 @ 2:03 pm

knew they were borrowing more than they could afford but just didn't care about that enough to stop themselves.

Posted by Anonymous on Jan. 04, 2012 @ 2:19 pm

"The first symptoms of trouble came in the subprime market, and it was the problems of that market that were first put under a microscope. We found loans that had been made to unqualified borrowers on terms that were, in some cases, outrageous. We found fraud. We found that credit had become far too easy to get.

"And we found private-label mortgage securitizations that were stuffed with horrid loans that never should have been made, rubber-stamped by rating agencies, guaranteed by insurance companies and purchased by institutional investors without anyone in the chain doing any real due diligence. We found securitizations that were managed so haphazardly that papers proving who owns mortgages had disappeared.

"All that was true, but focusing on such outrages can obscure what needs to be done. By now we should understand that the problems went far beyond the subprime market. There are many prime loans, made to responsible borrowers with good credit, that are in deep trouble. Property values did not collapse only in the neighborhoods where dubious loans were being made.

"The bulk of those troubled prime loans now are owned by the United States government — or, to be more specific, by its wards, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac."


Lenders had no business making loans to unqualified borrowers but they did. And they did so for a reason. And you don't think there's class war? You need to broaden your sources of information.

Posted by Anonymous on Jan. 04, 2012 @ 11:34 pm

Buying a 500K house on a 50K income should have rung a bell in these buyers.

And what about the buyers who kept taking cash out rather than paying down the loan?

The blame is everywhere.

Posted by Anonymous on Jan. 05, 2012 @ 4:51 am

Certainly no more than you're claiming that the unemployed and foreclosed-upon were victims of a conspiracy by the 1%, which is composed entirely of divisive Republicans. That would be an ignorant claim, wouldn't it?

Posted by Chromefields on Jan. 04, 2012 @ 2:21 pm

To say it was entirely Republicans wouldn't be accurate, but it isn't an ignorant claim to say the foreclosure crisis and collapse of the banking system and real estate market was caused by a conspiracy of very rich people playing a dangerous but lucrative game based on convincing masses of people to buy houses that they couldn't afford. The Academy Award-winning documenary Inside Job does an excellent job of laying out precisely what happened. But still, we get these Anonymous apologists for the 1 percent who want to blame everything on the lower and lower-middle classes, simply proving Tim's main point.

Posted by steven on Jan. 04, 2012 @ 5:12 pm

Democratic politicians need to stop saying the wealthy need to pay their "fair share." It's a weak talking point. It doesn't resonate when those people who are asked to pay more read that 47% of the country who are less wealthy don't have to pay any federal income tax.

Posted by The Commish on Jan. 04, 2012 @ 3:33 pm

not true

I believe that number is far less than 47%, and in any case, those who don't pay income taxes pay a lot of other fees and taxes that they are quite well aware are foisted upon them by a handful of rich pricks who don't, in fact, pay their "fair share" of anything

what other term would you have us use...?

Posted by 'anonymous' on Jan. 04, 2012 @ 3:47 pm

The 47% number is accurate. I'm only talking about federal income taxes. Those people still may pay payroll taxes, state taxes, fees, etc. (But so does everyone.)

Posted by The Commish on Jan. 04, 2012 @ 4:17 pm

Even if the 47% figure is true, it's highly misleading. Why focus exclusively on income tax? Taxes are taxes. The whole thing should be taken into account, and when it is, you see that the poor pay an outsized share of taxes.

Of the "47%" who pay no taxes, the vast majority SHOULDN'T pay taxes. If you're old, sick, disabled, a child, or dirt poor, then you shouldn't pay taxes. What ISN'T fair is that all these people DO in fact pay taxes, and often they pay a larger percentage of their income than the wealthiest billionaires.

Posted by Greg on Jan. 04, 2012 @ 9:39 pm

that the GOP wants the rich to pay less is asinine.

The best tax is the broadest tax, spreading the paina s widely as possible. Everyone should pay some tax, even if it's justs ales tax. we rarely appreciate what we haven't contributed to.

If I were dictator, I'd abolish both income and sales tax, and set a national VAT at whatever level is revenue neutral.

Posted by Anonymous on Jan. 05, 2012 @ 4:43 am

Warren Buffet has a standing offer of one million dollars to any billionaire who can prove he pays more taxes than his secretary. To date, no one has taken him up on the offer.
As for this idea that everyone should pay a tax, including dying patients, elderly people in nursing homes, preschool children, people with mental disabilities, indigent people... because they need to "appreciate" something... that's just vile. Their benefits, and their exemption from paying taxes on it, should NOT be a condition of their "appreciation." At least not in a civilized society.

Posted by Greg on Jan. 05, 2012 @ 11:38 am

Buffett paid $6,938,744 in federal tax last year. I don't think his secretary paid that much.

He apparently means that his secretary had a higher effective tax rate than his, which was around 17%. It's not a good argument because he's a multi-billionare who makes most of his money off capital gains (taxed lower). And billionaires can take advantage of carried interest.

Even millionaires (unless they are multi, multi millionaires) don't make most of their money from capital gains. You have to be super-rich to be relying on cap gains for most income because you'd have to have accumulated a huge portfolio of securities to do so.

Posted by The Commish on Jan. 05, 2012 @ 12:15 pm

Why is it that the tax rate for sources of income open to mainly rich people is so much lower than the tax rate for the types of income that poor people usually get?

You think it's just an accident?

Oh wait... I know the answer. This is just what the "invisible hand of the free market" has decided in its infinite wisdom. Oh well, can't argue with the mythical hand... hence the phrase "tell it to the hand".

Posted by Greg on Jan. 05, 2012 @ 12:37 pm

Good arguments can be made that cap gains rate should go up.

But thinking that only the poor pay ordinary income tax rates is incorrect. As the 47% figure explains, poor people often have no federal income tax liability. And just about everyone (who pays taxes) but the super rich are paying those ordinary rates. People like Buffett are in an entirely different category than even the wealthy.

Posted by The Commish on Jan. 05, 2012 @ 1:44 pm

The super rich and corporations are -so- rich that their wealth is decimating everyone else's access to the economy, products and services, -and- they also outrageously use their wealth to pull their overall tax burden below that of everyone else.

As to the simply 'rich' the disparity between themselves and the lower classes is also far too wide and is an extremely serious economic problem.

We need to adopt Roosevelt's original idea and institute income and profit caps, with surpluses either lowering production costs, going to governments as 'taxes', and /or being used for research and development.

The ridiculously complex tax code is far too easily gamed by the wealthy and by corporations.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Jan. 05, 2012 @ 2:02 pm

I don't agree with much of the content of your post, but I do agree the Internal Revenue Code is too complex.

My main point is that the "fair share" talking point doesn't resonate because it paints "rich" versus "poor" in too broad of strokes and actually leads to the class warfare resentment that is the subject of the article. Someone making $250,000 -- i.e., what Obama defines as rich -- is going to see that talking point, and wonder how she can be construed as not paying her fair share when she's paying about $80,000 in income taxes while 47% of the country is paying nothing.

A guy like Buffett doesn't belong in the same category as someone making $250,000, yet the "fair share" point groups them together. Buffett is going to be making most of his money from divididends, securities sales, etc. and will be taxed at cap gains levels. Buffett has the means to donate a lot to charity, which reduces his tax hit. The woman making $250,000 is probably paying taxes almost entirely at ordinary rates.

Posted by The Commish on Jan. 05, 2012 @ 4:13 pm

I don't recall Obama ever defining what "rich" is? Do you have a link to that?

Nor will someone making $250,000 pay $80,000 in taxes (not that they couldn't afford it). People with those kinds of incomes can use all sorts of crazy deductions.

Nor is it true that 47% of people pay nothing, though a lot of people probably should pay nothing.

Posted by Greg on Jan. 05, 2012 @ 4:30 pm

$250,000 has been Obama's dividing line for quite a while. I don't know why he settled on that figure.

I'm not saying 47% pay nothing. They pay nothing in federal income tax. Sorry if that wasn't clear.

And the $80,000 figure isn't far off for how much someone with a $250,000 income would pay in tax. Aside from mortgage interest, there aren't many crazy deductions left. And it's debatable whether someone with a $250,000 income could even afford a home in San Francisco to claim a mortgage interest deduction.

Posted by The Commish on Jan. 05, 2012 @ 9:12 pm

-via the Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley executives who run his white house.

And anyone who doesn't get that we are in a bitter, deadly, class war, and that we need to declare it and fight it as such, and win (before it drives this country completely into the shit hole) is a blind fool.

Buffett quite rightly admitted:

“There’s class warfare, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”

Posted by Eric Brooks on Jan. 05, 2012 @ 9:35 pm

you can earn a lot and not be rich. In fact you might be in net debt.

Or you can earn a little and be rich. Someone with a billion in muni bonds pays no tax.

So could we at least get clear about wealth versus income before we start quibbling about who is really rich and whether it matters?

Posted by Anonymous on Jan. 06, 2012 @ 4:03 am

If yer pulling in $250K, you can afford to begin to pay 38% taxes on amounts greater than $250K.

I'm all in favor of a wealth tax on large assets held by the rich too.

Posted by marcos on Jan. 06, 2012 @ 8:48 am

I don't know - you live in Manhattan with 6 kids and an ageing parent who needs care? You really think that's living the high life?

A wealth tax is unconstitutional, at least at the Federal level, so that's a moot desire on your part.

Posted by Anonymous on Jan. 06, 2012 @ 9:00 am

Note that I wrote my response at the same time, so I didn't see yours. But I knew exactly what you'd say. People making a lot of money aren't wealthy, so we shouldn't tax them higher. And we can't tax people who *have* a lot of money either. And we shouldn't tax corporations either, because corporations are people too you know... so oh well, I guess we just shouldn't tax people at all.

Except the poor, of course. They should pay something so that they can "appreciate" what they have. Gotta love that part.

Posted by Greg on Jan. 06, 2012 @ 9:31 am

There are people making 250K per annum who aren't rich.

There are people with no taxable income who are rich.

"Tax the rich" is a cute bumper sticker but is a confused and muddled notion. Income isn't the same as wealth.

Posted by Anonymous on Jan. 06, 2012 @ 10:31 am

So by that definition no amount of income is wealth. Hell, you can make a billion in income and not be wealthy by that definition! After all, you might be flat broke even though you made a billion dollars! And the high-priced tax attorneys will even *prove* that you're flat broke! And if you're flat broke, then of course you should pay no taxes. Why, it wouldn't be fair to make a flat broke billionaire pay taxes!

Of course the minute someone starts talking about a wealth tax instead of an income tax, you'll be the first to say "oh no, we can't have that. That's socialism."

And then in the next breath... and this is my favorite part... you'll explain why someone who broke their back working 14-hour days and lives on a meager disability, or some homeless vet with PTSD who makes nothing at all... they need to pay something, because they need to "appreciate" what they have.

Your philosophy is transparent, Anonymous. It's the same philosophy as Newt Gingrich's, who would fire all the janitors and have kids in poor schools clean the toilets to learn the value of work. It's the philosophy of a reptile.

Posted by Greg on Jan. 06, 2012 @ 9:01 am

someone with a high income might not be wealthy, while someone with a low income might be wealthy?

It's really not that complicated.

Posted by Anonymous on Jan. 06, 2012 @ 10:32 am

that everyone fucking hates you and wants you to shut the fuck up asshole

Posted by anonymous on Jan. 06, 2012 @ 10:55 am

But thanks for the overt concession

Posted by Anonymous on Jan. 06, 2012 @ 12:39 pm

But where is the dividing line is between the classes? The discussion is kind of amorphous without a definition. That's why I think the supposed $250,000 figure is so weird.

Posted by The Commish on Jan. 06, 2012 @ 9:51 am

$250k is about what someone living in Manhattan, or in high end areas of San Francisco, would need to live decently and still send a family to college, etc. It seems a perfectly good level at which to cap income, or at the very least to tax income and gains above it.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Jan. 06, 2012 @ 10:16 am

punish people who are at any given level of wealth or income. You appear to see taxation primarily as a tool to re-distribute wealth because that fits with your socialist outlook. You don't really care about the poor but you sure as hell hate the successful.

The politics of envy has been laid bare, and dumped on your shoes. I guarantee you that if the richest 500 people in America vanished tomorrow, we as a whole would be collectively worse off, not better off.

Posted by Anonymous on Jan. 06, 2012 @ 10:35 am

So that 250K pa is taxed less in Manhattan, where it isn't that much, than in Mississippi, where it is a lot?

Posted by Anonymous on Jan. 06, 2012 @ 10:36 am
Posted by Eric Brooks on Jan. 06, 2012 @ 10:50 am

At least you know when you're beaten.

Posted by Anonymous on Jan. 06, 2012 @ 12:38 pm

run away from what?

Posted by anonymous on Jan. 06, 2012 @ 10:58 pm

Way more concerned about the Constitution being shredded. Obama is worse on civil rights than W was. Glen Greenwald's 12/31 piece is a much more interesting jumping off point.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 04, 2012 @ 11:09 pm

A public notice regarding Santorum.

Not completely sure how it works, but evidently if you link Santorum with the web site then that tends to keep Santorum name properly associated with the frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the by-product of anal sex.

Something about Google bots picking up Santorum's name each time Santorum is mentioned and linked online like that.

So to review, when you link Santorum with the web site then that tends to keep Santorum's name properly associated with the frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the
by-product of anal sex.

Evidently this happens every time Santorum's name is mentioned and linked online, so please be careful when you do mention Santorum's name, and especially when you may associate Santorum with the web site and then further reference Santorum with the frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the by-product of anal sex.

Thank you for the opportunity to provide this notice about Santorum.

Posted by marcos on Jan. 05, 2012 @ 5:21 pm

This is under Obama. The warfare is against dissent as much as class. Against freedom.
Condemn us to a stazi state and pretend to yourself it's better than the GOP (around the margins).

Choose well.
Santorum and his frothiness should be down the drain soon enough.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 06, 2012 @ 8:22 pm