Quoted in the Washington Post, President Bush addressed income inequality in a speech on January 31st, 2007.
“The fact is that income inequality is real — it’s been rising for more than 25 years,” Bush said in an address on Wall Street.
I can’t even begin to frame a coherent response to that. All I want to do is sputter and spit. The cornerstone of Republican economic theory and policy at least since the days of Ronald Reagan has been so-called “trickle down economics”, the idea that upper income tax cuts will stimulate investment and create job growth. That income inequality is an inevitable first order result of this policy should have been obvious twenty-five years ago to anyone with a smidgen of intellectual honesty and an IQ higher than that of concrete. (Neither of which applies to this president, unfortunately.)
If you’ve voted Republican any time since 1980, this widening economic gap is precisely the outcome you were actively supporting. There’s a conservative obsession with punishing the poor in the name of “helping them help themselves” that stretches back to at least the days of Cotton Mather. Hence the $10 billion in healthcare budget cuts in the President’s new budget, to go along with permanent upper income tax cuts. It didn’t make a lot of sense 400 years ago in Puritan Massachusetts, and it doesn’t make any more sense now. I’m sure America’s poor are gratified to know that the sales of executive jets are up. Always a great economic indicator for the minimum wage set.
One of the great deceptions the Republican party has wrought on American voters is that this is somehow in their interests. The whole “death tax” thing a few years back, about reducing or eliminating the estate tax, was a brilliant example. This income gap separates the top 3% or less of Americans from the rest of us. The rest of us have at best held steady, many have lost ground, while incomes at the top have more than doubled in recent years.
I don’t think Bush won on that 3% of the vote.
I’ve also been thinking about how the current Adminstration has been a real triple witching hour for separate strains of conservatism. I’ve said before I find it quite possible we’ll see the end of American cultural, economic and military dominance as a direct result of Bush’s tenure in government — which may or may not be a good thing from the perspective of the rest of the world, but certainly wasn’t the intention of virtually any of his political supporters.
But here you have the voodoo economics of the Reaganauts, the post-Straussian Imperial wet dreams of the Neocons, and the centuries-old Calvinist social paranoia of the Churched Right all being supported and driven forward by a leader who has made a virtue out of a deliberately incurious and anti-intellectual lack of inquiry in the name of consistency and principle. (Bush is so vapid and devoid of introspection that one must wonder how he arrived at his so-called principles in the first place.) Each of those strains of thought is profoundly wrong-headed, anti-democratic and anti-American, and each cloaks itself in flag-waving patriotism and absolutist rhetoric perfectly suited to demagoguery.
In name of America first, Bush and his partisans have put America last. That we fail to care for our poor, our ill, our elderly, and the president proudly puts that in his budget as a sign of his fiscal responsibility, is only another straw of shame falling on a dead camel whose back broke long ago.