Felicia Muftic: GOP increasingly out of touch with middle class
December 13, 2011
A riddle: How is hanging Christmas lights outside like politics?
The puzzle with the answer hit me the other day as I was doing that annual chore: If you do not make the proper connections, the lights do not go on. The voters will light up best for those who make the right connection, and polls are showing the Democrats are beginning to make some headway.
A shift in public attitudes has coincided with the GOP presidential contender debates and the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement. OWS brought focus to the fact that the rich had gotten richer and the 99 percent of us had not, and it contributed to a change in public attitudes toward taxation fairness, even trumping debt and job creation concerns. The GOP also helped fire this mood shift by consistently defending the rich and big business in Congress and in their nearly weekly presidential hopeful debates.
According to a New York Times/CBS News poll Oct. 31, 70 percent of Americans said that congressional Republicans’ policies favored the rich; two-thirds thought wealth should be more evenly distributed and that taxes should be increased on millionaires. A very critical shift in opinion from earlier polls was that 65 percent thought the way to lower the deficit was to increase taxes on millionaires instead of closing the deficit by cutting popular programs such as education, earned entitlements, and environmental protection.
In addition to giving the public a distasteful menu of cuts to middle class-benefitting programs, GOP candidates and congress people proposed a shell game of delaying any decisions until sometime in an indefinite future when the entire tax structure could be made flatter. They even approved a tax hike, in effect, on the middle class by trying to block an extension of the payroll tax cut, holding it hostage to removing the part paying for it with a tax on millionaires. When that position ran into public outrage, they shifted the terms of their ransom to agreeing to their proposal to reduce funding to the EPA and approval of an oil pipeline without the normal scrutiny. They are at least making big energy happy, if not anyone depending on continuation of the payroll tax cut.
Republicans try to justify their protection of the rich and big because they contend those are the job creators; raising taxes on them will kill jobs. Many of the same rich and big have publicly stated that tax policy is not the main reason they add employees and those same polls cited above showed that the public had more faith in Obama’s job creation proposals than they did in the GOP’s plans.
The GOP has complained the president had declared class warfare, making him appear to some as whipping up class anger, not that anger did not already exist. To explain away the anger, the newest GOP line is to say it is generated by wealth envy. That kind of bogus psychoanalysis shows how disconnected the GOP is from reality.
Obama seized on the fairness issue in his seminal speech in Kansas on Dec. 6, when he resurrected the ghost of Teddy Roosevelt’s populism, setting forth “fairness” as a theme of his 2012 campaign.
If the GOP continues to be disconnected from the public mood as they have been, they will turn on the lights in the minds of independent voters that will only help the Democrats.
For more commentary, go to http://www.mufticforum.com
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