The answer to this question had eluded me especially in light of the increasing income disparity between the wealthy and the rest of us. I don’t think there is much controversy that ever since the Regan years (see previous post) more income shares have been going to the wealthy. This has created a structural economic problem because shifting income to fewer individuals means that there will be less of that income being spent on goods and services produced by the rest of us. Remember the quote from Hello Dolly? “Money, pardon the expression, is like manure. It’s not worth a thing unless it’s spread around encouraging young things to grow.” Same thing is true today and this is a big deal because there can not be a lasting economic recovery until this issue is addressed.
This situation seems to be completely irrelevant to Republicans in congress who are hell bent on ensuring that the wealthiest Americans receive even more tax breaks. This may be in the best short term interest of those receiving the financial windfall but it is a disastrous idea for those making less that $250,000. Why then does an April 18, 2011 Rasmussen poll show that Republicans lead Democrats in a generic Congressional ballot, 42% to 39%? This tells me that the majority of the respondents are either unaware of the fiscal implications of their choice, they make more than $250,000 or they are basing their support on secondary issues unrelated to the current economic crisis.
I suspect it is the secondary issues that are operative. These secondary issues also tend to be emotional hot buttons such as abortion, planned parenthood, public broadcasting, gay marriage and so on. To be sure, if all abortions were made illegal, planned parenthood and public radio were defunded and gay marriage was constitutionally banned, the economic impact would be negligible. From an economic perspective these issues are simply irrelevant. But because they are hot buttons and tend to be polarizing they motivate supporters to take action and to vote.
Clearly this has not been lost on the Republicans and has allowed them to advance an economic agenda that is bad for America by garnering support from those who care only about the secondary issues. Could there be any other reason that Mike Pence introduced an abortion related rider into the recent FY2011 bill?
In a way it’s elegant. The Republicans can be elected by pandering to a constituency that has sufficient numbers to get them elected (the hot buttoners) and concurrently receives financing from a second constituency (the wealthy) that allows them market themselves to the first constituency. Maybe that’s just politics but at some point everyone has to realize that the economic security of America is the primary issue at hand.
This much is obvious. Without a strong, economically stable America there will be no foundation on which to debate the secondary issues.
The expanding economic crisis is a lion charging at us through the grass and the Republicans are selling mosquito repellent. We should forget about the mosquitoes at least until we evade the lion.
So why do the Republicans enjoy support from those earning less than $250,000? Everyone hates mosquitoes, they are visible and dealing with them is simple.