Economist Paul Krugman was altogether on point in his New York Times column last week when he stomped all over the Republicans’ glaringly self-serving ruse of opposing tax hikes on the wealthiest Americans with their lame go-to line that any tax increase on these “job creators” is bad policy. One of the core questions to be addressed in the 2012 election is whether, with an overwhelming majority of Americans supportive of the idea that the wealthy should ante up a bit more to help the country’s deficit problems, the Republicans’ typical snow-job tactics could still result in electoral pay dirt for them.
The polling results on the issue of a modest tax hike being imposed on high-end income earners should have been fairly predictable, all things considered. Especially at a time when middle and working-class stiffs have been pulverized in an economy gone stubbornly sour, there should be no question where such folk would come down as far as some sacrifice being asked of upper-echelon high rollers. And if the bulk of the citizenry wasn’t enough sensitized to the lopsided income divide, along came the Occupy Wall Street movement and its companion protests across the country to drive the point home.
Hardly unexpected, then, were the findings of a Gallup poll in late September that 66 percent favored a tax increase on the wealthy, with 32 percent opposed. And an even bigger plurality, 70 percent, favored closing regulatory loopholes for corporations so that their tax contributions would also increase, as against 26 percent opposed. The Gallup numbers were generally reflective of other national surveys. In the Washington Post back in September, Greg Sargent also referenced poll results to debunk claims that the push by the Obama administration for the rich folks’ tax hike was strategy that only appealed to and had only the support of Democrats. All the main polls – New York Times/CBS News, Gallup, NBC News/Wall Street Journal, etc – reported hefty supportive majorities for the tax increase among independents and moderates.
Such survey revelations, as we know, don’t amount to much for a Republican Party culture in which brazenness is endemic. Further complicating matters is the Grover Norquist factor, Norquist’s bellicose championing of a tax-cutting/small-government fanaticism having found willing sycophants across the landscape of Republican lawmakers. So one expects no let-up in the unyielding GOP resistance to doing what the people have indicated they care to see done. That kind of obstinacy is one thing when right-wing zealots decide to make a social-issue battleground of the celebrated Teri Schiavo case; it is sheer lunacy when what’s at stake is the repair of a crippling deficit that seriously threatens the nation’s financial stability.
Krugman saw much in the GOP profile that was analogous to the fictional “greed is good” Gordon Gekko character of the “Wall Street” movie. And he sought to expose the assertion of standing up for America’s “job creators” for the red herring that it is. Krugman even identified GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney’s experience in the business world as a prime example of the disingenuousness that informs those claims of a job-creating business elite. He referenced a Los Angeles Times survey of Romney’s record when he headed a private equity firm for 15 years, which determined that quite a bit of the activity Romney engaged in ultimately resulted in jobs being cut, rather than created.
Absent such anecdotal data, a pretty good read on the myth of job creators concerned with more than their own bottom-line advantage was provided for John Public for much of the current period of economic stagnation. Reports constantly told of businesses sitting on hordes of cash, unwilling to commit to any work-force spending. If ever the need existed for that rumored job-creating predisposition to manifest itself, surely these tough times have been it. Those folk so beloved by GOP apologists haven’t been too much of a mind to give the rest of us reason to understand the Republicans’ granting them this “sacred cow” level of protection.
It’s all a lot of horseradish, of course. There is nothing new about the behavior pattern on the right. The scapegoating, the marketing and managing of bilge that’s thrown up for public consumption may vary, but essentially the line forms in pretty standard fashion on an ongoing basis. Walking in lock step with big business at the expense of the hoi polloi has increasingly become a GOP imprimatur, as the idea of a moderate element within the party has faded into oblivion. Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, Speaker John Boehner and their respective crews may engage in all manner of Capitol Hill double-talk till the twelfth of never. Unavoidably, responsibility for the Congress having failed to deal forthrightly with issues of maximum importance rests more appropriately with Republican intransigence than elsewhere.
The notion that hard-line, devil-may-care posturing fits compatibly with the legislative chamber is a dangerous pass to which some would unabashedly take the country. The election of 2012 looms as a breaker for this onrushing madness. A philosophy of governance anchored in ideological intractability that places such a low premium on the state’s very survival clearly makes its own strong case for rejection.