Home > Economics, Right-Wing Extremism, The Class War > Reward the Rich, Gut the Poor

Reward the Rich, Gut the Poor

July 16th, 2013

Paul Krugman writes concisely and pointedly on what the Republican Farm Bill, stripped of food stamps, fully represents:

For decades, farm bills have had two major pieces. One piece offers subsidies to farmers; the other offers nutritional aid to Americans in distress, mainly in the form of food stamps (these days officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP).

Long ago, when subsidies helped many poor farmers, you could defend the whole package as a form of support for those in need. Over the years, however, the two pieces diverged. Farm subsidies became a fraud-ridden program that mainly benefits corporations and wealthy individuals. Meanwhile food stamps became a crucial part of the social safety net.

So House Republicans voted to maintain farm subsidies — at a higher level than either the Senate or the White House proposed — while completely eliminating food stamps from the bill.

To fully appreciate what just went down, listen to the rhetoric conservatives often use to justify eliminating safety-net programs. It goes something like this: “You’re personally free to help the poor. But the government has no right to take people’s money” — frequently, at this point, they add the words “at the point of a gun” — “and force them to give it to the poor.”

It is, however, apparently perfectly O.K. to take people’s money at the point of a gun and force them to give it to agribusinesses and the wealthy.

In the previous post, I pointed out something very similar. In the 2012 election, Republicans proposed tax cuts that would have heavily favored the wealthy, including capital gains tax cuts, a 20% income tax cut (new top rate: 28%), and a 30% corporate tax cut, on top of a slew of new loopholes for corporations, eliminating the estate tax and slashing the gift tax.

Romney tried to sell it as a “fair, flat” proposal that would cut things evenly for everybody—except that in reality, the top 0.1% would have gotten a 13% cut (just in personal taxes, not counting corporate savings) while the lower-middle class and the poor would have received less than a 1% decrease in their tax burden.

In the same year, Republicans also tried to raise taxes—something they had purportedly pledged never to do—on more than 20 million lower- and middle-class families. They tried to kill a tax credit for 11 million families paying for college for their kids; they tried to end child tax credits for as many as 12 million families; and they tried to end the Earned Income Tax Credits for as many as 6 million families.

They have consistently tried to slash unemployment insurance payments, and now are trying to eliminate food stamps for millions of families below the poverty line—while at the same time fighting for the most generous possible handouts to wealthy people and corporations.

Tell me, exactly what do Republicans have to do to get most Americans enraged at this kind of crap? Do they have to ritually slaughter a poor family and feed their flesh to billionaires on live TV or something?

  1. Troy
    July 16th, 2013 at 06:23 | #1

    The GOP knows SNAP recipients don’t vote for them anyway so “fuck ‘em” is their current strategy.

    Part of what’s been going down for a while is the systematic strengthening of anything GOP-leaning — military, home ownership (until that blew up in their faces), media concentration — and systematic undermining of anything not GOP-leaning (ACORN, Planned Parenthood, etc).

    This is war. They’re not exactly winning, but they’re not losing, either.

    Losing would be somebody well to the left of Obama in the White House, and of course Congress run by Democrats, preferably like what we had in the 1930s and 40s (less the Southern-bloc racism).

    Like Clinton, Obama’s been the best Republican in the WH since Lincoln.

    ’tis a farce, really.

  2. Troy
    July 16th, 2013 at 06:33 | #2

    heh, 5 year anniversary of you having an iPhone!

    Amazing how a 3.5″ piece of glass changed Apple’s fortunes so radically.

    Apple spent $2B on R&D in the last 6 months, compared to $500M in the same period in 2008.

    Apple made $2.6B in profit in 1H08 vs $22B in 1H13.

    Apple sold 8.6M iOS & Macs in 1H08 vs in 1H13 135M iOS/Macs + 18M iPods, many of them also iOS.

    Apple probably sold more iOS iPods this year than all the Macs and iPhones in 2008, LOL.

    Apple could buy Sony for the cost of six months operating profit.

  3. Mr Wolf
    July 16th, 2013 at 17:37 | #3

    Seems a common theme across the ocean. George Monbiot has commented the same (see http://www.monbiot.com/2013/07/10/the-landed-mafia/) – the masses are bled to feed the land-owners.

  4. Tim
    July 19th, 2013 at 08:03 | #4

    My general sense is that the rich seek ROI at the expense of all other things.

    Uncle Miltie taught me that the historical rate of return on interest is 4%. But the rich want more than that. They want 7% – because that means, every 10 years their holding double.

    The problem is, if GNP does not go up 7%, then they will get that desired share from some other sector of the economy – moving rents from me and you to them. Thanks to George Bush the inferior, they have the bargaining power to do that.

    In fact, Bush taught the rich that they can get better rates of return from in vesting in politicians than from socially constructive (orthodox) investing. The rich gave Bush about $300 million to become president. He, in turn, gave the Rich about $13 trillion dollars – money shifted from all other sectors of the economy, middle, working, poor, classes, to the rich.

    They systematically go after the agencies of bargaining power from these other sectors of society. They love to go after the poor – that’s the low hanging fruit, because of the bargaining power disparity. They busted up ACORN which was a bargaining agency for the poor. Now food stamps.

    They busted up the private sector unions, now they go after the public sector unions. Many middle class workers were kicked out of the middle class in 2008 to pay for Bush’s transferring of money to the rich — Median family income dropped over 5% in the aughts — but that didn’t come from all families (and some families were saved by having two workers in the family).

    They are like locust. Once they bust up one bargaining agency, they soon go after another. When every thing else is gone, they’ll even go after the American Medical Association.

    Sooner or later, they will come for your money too.

    You didn’t stand up for blue collar workers when they came for their livelyhood, you didn’t stand up for poor workers when they came for ACORN, you didn’t stand up for poor when they came for SNAP so now it won’t be there for you should you need it, you didn’t stand up for public sector unions when they came for there livelihood – now there will be no one there to stand up for you when they come for your livelihood.

  5. Troy
    July 21st, 2013 at 14:11 | #5

    now there will be no one there to stand up for you when they come for your livelihood

    yup, that’s my joke — first they came for the steelworkers, but I did not say anything because I was not a steelworker. . .

    http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/graph/?g=kMg

    is a pretty brutal graph. . .

    Mfg jobs peaked right before Volcker decided to gut the economy (high interest rates increase the strength of the dollar, too, also punishing labor and benefiting the wealthy).

    18M jobs prior to NAFTA, 12M now.

    Information jobs (right axis), ouch. Back to 1990 levels even though real GDP is 75% higher

    http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/GDPC1

    Makes me wish I’d just gone into the Army in 1985. I’d have my 20+ years now and could retire on a decent enough gov’t pension, assuming I survived Panama, the 1990s draw-down, and the three wars since then.

  6. Tim
    July 22nd, 2013 at 21:12 | #6

    If you’ve not already seen this, enjoy (the crisis in capitalism):
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=26o22Y33h9s

  7. Tim
    July 22nd, 2013 at 21:13 | #7

    I meant this one:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qOP2V_np2c0 – it’s only ten minutes and it is animated

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