GOP Plans to Destroy Our Safety Net Will Also Kill Democracy
Newt Gingrich openly bragged recently at the Heritage Foundation that the Trump administration and Republicans in Congress were going to "break out of the Franklin Delano Roosevelt model." That "model," of course, created what we today refer to as "the middle class."
Ever since the election of Ronald Reagan, Republicans have been working overtime to kneecap institutions that support the American middle class. And, as any working-class family can tell you, the GOP has had some substantial successes, particularly in shifting both income and political power away from voters and towards billionaires and transnational corporations.
In July of last year, discussing SCOTUS's 5/4 conservative vote on Citizens United, President Jimmy Carter told me: "It violates the essence of what made America a great country in its political system. Now it's just an oligarchy with unlimited political bribery..." He added: "[W]e've just seen a complete subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors..."
As Princeton researchers Gilens and Page demonstrated in an exhaustive analysis of the difference between what most Americans want their politicians to do legislatively, versus what American politicians actually do, it's pretty clear that President Carter was right.
They found that while the legislative priorities of the top 10% of Americans are consistently made into law, things the bottom 90% want are ignored. In other words, today in America, democracy only "works" for the top 10% of Americans.
For thousands of years, economists and economic observers from Aristotle to Adam Smith to Thomas Picketty have told us that a "middle class" is not a normal by-product of raw, unregulated capitalism - what right-wing ideologues call "the free market."
Instead, unregulated markets - particularly markets not regulated by significant taxation on predatory incomes - invariably lead to the opposite of a healthy middle class: they produce extremes of inequality, which are as dangerous to democracy as cancer is to a living being.
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