Sunday, April 14, 2013

Civil War in the U.S.

It's the surviving middle class against the elite 1 percent

By Mike Krauss
Bucks Count Courier Times

The GOP appears to be a party in disarray, breaking apart over the fault lines of the culture wars it rode to power and joined at the hip to the financial and corporate elite.

But a few days ago it looked as if a civil war had broken out in the Democratic Party, as representatives of President Obama’s most ardent supporters and true believers gathered in front of the White House to hurl their outrage over the assault on Social Security built into the president’s budget proposal.

Not all the president’s base was on the barricades. Conspicuously absent were African American leaders. That’s because the president does not propose to gore their ox.

Social Security and Medicare are critical to the well being of middle class Americans, and for decades, African Americans have been largely excluded from the American middle class.

There is more in the budget that attacks what is left of middle class prosperity, like the proposal to eliminate the mortgage interest deduction in the tax code.

The White House bills this change as a “reform,” and has lined up the support of groups like the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), which argues that the mortgage interest deduction unfairly favors the rich more than the middle-class.

So of course, all right thinking Americans will want it eliminated.

But does the deduction favor the 1 percent?

Here is how the CBPP likes to present the facts. In 2012, 77 percent of the benefit of mortgage interest deduction went to households with incomes greater than $100,000. Some 35 percent of the benefit went to households with incomes greater than $200,000.

What the CBPP is actually saying is that the benefit is not targeted to the poor, most of whom do not own homes, or own very modest homes.

But would you say that a working  couple with children earning a combined $100,000 to $200,000 a year qualifies as “rich” in America today, or would you say they are some of the surviving middle class?

This is another assault on the middle class by a president who lives in the bubble of an elite education, gliding along a career path smoothed by the elite, guaranteed a long and very prosperous retirement among the elite.

Obama’s daughters will almost certainly finish their educations in Ivy League schools, shopping for husbands among the elite. The world will be their oyster, and good for them. But the children of the middle class, many unemployed or underemployed and saddled with massive student debt, will be lucky to find a job shucking oysters in the swell places where the elite dine.

In the 2008 campaign for president, there was a photo of Mr. Obama at a bowling alley, regarding the bowling ball in his hands as an anthropologist might regard some artifact from a lost civilization.

And that is how the president regards the middle class — a relic of no meaning in his life.

America is at war. It is a civil war, the middle class against the 1 percent. But it appears that large numbers of Democrats have finally understood this and are on the offensive. Republicans should join them in protecting Social Security and Medicare, and work to grow the middle class.

The obvious place to start is to shift the tax burden to those who have substantial wealth — the corporate and financial elite who have acquired that wealth by devouring middle class prosperity. The argument that their wealth is invested in growing the economy and building shared prosperity is patent nonsense.

Three measures would begin to turn the tide. The first is to eliminate the capital gains tax dodge, which taxes the financial gains of billionaires at 15 percent. The second is a tax on financial transactions, under consideration in Europe and being ferociously opposed by Obama’s new Treasury Secretary (a Wall Street errand boy). The third is to tax the offshore profits of American corporations.

Three things this president of the 1 percent, by the 1 percent and for the 1 percent does not propose

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