Monday, March 21, 2005

March 20, 2005

Politics of Envy - Say They

Republicans are remarkably skilled in the art of what I call, “Issue Jujitsu;" turning the entire force of a Democrat issue back against Democrats. And the GOP is at the very peak of its Issue Jujitsu game whenever Democrats try to make hay off statistics that prove a massive redistribution of wealth upward has occurred since Bush took office.

Whenever Democrats rant about the ever widening wealth gap Republicans Jujitsu it right back at them, accusing Democrats of engaging in “class warfare,” and “the politics of envy.”

Just how much longer Republicans will be able to get away with this remains to be seen. But so far, so good -- for the wealthy very, very good.

How good? Evidence pops up from time to time revealing what the already-rich beneficiaries of Bush’s tax cuts are really doing with their windfall. Bush assured us they would invest their tax savings and create jobs. That didn’t happen. So, where did all that moola go?

The Wall Street Journal carried a section advertising the hottest new trend in being rich – “Destination Clubs.” A couple of months ago I reported that wealthy travelers, flush with cash and expanding appetites, had sparked “star inflation,” forcing already posh Five Star hotels and resorts to add an even more indulgent Sixth Star level of service.

But hey, if you have dough to burn, why stay with a bunch of other full-of-themselves nuevo-rich? Why not have your own private villas? Sweet.

The rich are flocking to posh Destination Clubs.. luxurious multi-million dollar villas scattered around the world. Think of Destinations Clubs as very high-end timeshares. Members pay an initial membership fee plus an annual membership fee.

Want to join? You better have a bucket of dough. Here is a sampler:

Membership Fee Annual Fee
Abercrombie & Kent $475,000.00 $14,750.00
Exclusive Resorts $375,000.00 $25,000.00
Solstice $675,000.00 $35,000.00
The Private Resort Club $275,000.00 $21,000.00

So, what’s in your wallet? Where will you be spending your tax cut this year?

Class warfare? You bet. And, guess who’s winning.

Compassionate Whaaaa?
At the same time President Bush is handing out vacation money to the wealthy he was trying to plug the hole those tax cuts would cause by cutting medical services to those who can’t afford medical care, much less a nice vacation.

Bush proposed $60 billion in Medicaid cuts by tightening up reinbbursements to states. Bush’s proposed cuts would leave states with no choice but to cut Medicaid services to the poor.

Republicans may have no shame when it comes to pandering to wealthy contributors, but they do understand that there are not enough wealthy voters to keep them in office. They realize it’s the “little folk” back in their home states -- the ones who consider a week in tent at a nearby lake a vacation – who can vote them out of office.

So yesterday Republican Senators took a mini-step away from Bush’s cuts, stripping $14 billion out of Bush’s proposed Medicaid cuts. Compassionate conservatives in action? Nah, just fear.

Right after that vote Republicans went straight back to being themselves, nearly doubling proposed new tax cuts from $70 billion to $134 billion.

And who gets the extra $64 billion in tax cuts? You guessed it. The Republican-sponsored measure repeals a 1993 tax increase on Social Security benefits paid to wealthy seniors.

So, let’s review what happened:
  • First Republicans reduced Bush's Medicaid cuts from $60 billion to $46 billion.
  • Then they increased tax cuts for wealthy Social Security recipients by $64 billion.
Bottom line: Republicans voted yesterday to transfer $46 billion from the poor to cover part of the cost of a $64 billion tax cut for the rich.

Class warfare? You decide.

Politics of envy? Sure, we envy their healthcare coverage. (Okay, the villas too.)

But nevermind that the federal treasury is empty and our nation is living on borrowed money. Why should people who got rich off America’s taxpayer funded infrastructure, laws and workers pay a bit more? That would just be wrong. Right?

Speaking of Deficits

Two decades of idiotic “free trade” policies have gutted America’s balance of trade with the rest of the world. One picture says it all:

Combine our annual budget deficit and trade deficit and were are over $1 trillion a year in the hole. We are now the world’s biggest deadbeat nation. We are living off loans, largely from Japan and China.

America, once the world’s dominant economy, is not just broke, but broken.

Talk is Cheap

George Bush constantly brags how “democracy is on the march.” What he doesn’t explain is why. Democracy has to march because Uncle George won’t pony up taxi fare.

For example, in the weeks after a popular uprising toppled a corrupt government in Ukraine, President Bush jumped in front of CNN cameras to claim the Ukraine as another convert to his Democracy Crusade and promised $60 million to nurture this nascent democracy. But in the weeks that followed that promise was slashed in half.

"The president is not putting his money where his mouth is," said Tom Malinowski, Washington director of Human Rights Watch.

Of course, considering the fiscal hole Bush’s tax cuts have created, all he has left is talk.

Hey, maybe China would loan Bush a few hundred million for his Democracy Crusade, just so long as he doesn’t spend any of it trying to democratize China.

Have a nice weekend.

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