Wednesday, July 29, 2015
The Reverse New Deal: As the super-wealthy bathe in gold bathtubs, buy $78,000 watches, and stash money in foreign bank accounts, Republicans can't figure out how to pay for infrastructure
Above: "When it came to taxes, Roosevelt simply believed that rich people should pay more than poor people. And in emergencies, they should pay a lot more." --Joseph J. Thorndike, Their Fair Share: Taxing the Rich in the Age of FDR, Washington, DC: Urban Institute Press, 2013, p. 45. Photo courtesy of the FDR Presidential Library and Museum.
Last year, Republican political strategist Matthew Dowd wrote "we need to have a well-paying jobs program tied to infrastructure improvements administered locally by cities, counties and states where people still trust government to get the job done. And this should be funded by tax policies at the federal level which put a much bigger burden on the wealthy in this country."
It's rare that I agree with a Republican, but in this case I certainly do. Unfortunately, Republican politicians do not. For example, after trying to create a 6-year funding plan for the Highway Trust Fund, Republicans settled for a 3-month patch instead - continuing a years-long trend of stop-gap (and insufficient) funding for our nation's infrastructure. Republicans in the House and Senate pointed fingers at each other for many days, with Republican House Majority Speaker John Boehner ultimately concluding, "the Senate has to do what the Senate has to do and the House has to do what the House has to do." Yep, that profound statement pretty much sums up our national infrastructure policy under Republican "leadership."
The main problem is this: Republicans are trying fund infrastructure without new revenue. Instead, they're trying to utilize budget gimmicks, like cutting into Social Security money, thereby setting "a precedent of raiding Social Security funds for unrelated purposes..."
And, as Republicans are scratching their heads and trying to figure out how to fund America's crumbling infrastructure, the super-wealthy are bathing in gold bathtubs, buying $78,000 watches, and illegally evading taxes by stashing money in foreign bank accounts--by the trillions (see graphic below). Furthermore, Republican politicians are encouraging this behavior by trying to eliminate the estate tax (so the children of the wealthy can buy expensive and frivolous items just like their parents), and by protecting illegal tax evasion from law enforcement (see, e.g., here and here).
All of this seems downright unpatriotic and foolish to me, but I'm obviously in the minority, as is Republican Senator Jim Inhofe when he says, "we’re supposed to defend America, and build roads and highways" ("Top GOP Senator Blames His Party For Lack Of Highway Funding," Huffington Post, May 19, 2015). And it's clear we're in the minority because the American people, by either voting for Republicans or not voting at all, have handed Congress over to anti-infrastructure Republicans--quarter of a million water main breaks per year notwithstanding.
Isn't that amazing?
(As conservatives wring their hands and cry to the heavens, "We can't afford it!", the super-wealthy are having a good laugh, responding, "Thanks for diverting the nation's attention away from us!" Image courtesy of Demos.org.)