Do Republicans really care about ‘people like you’?

REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
House Speaker John Boehner said in an interview on last weekend's "60 Minutes" that "frankly the president's policies have made income inequality worse.

If poll questions tell us such things, one of the keys to President Obama’s reelection in 2012 was that he always, always, always outscored Mitt Romney on the “which candidate cares about people like you?” question. And among those who said (in exit polls on Election Day) that “cares about people like me” was the most important attribute, Obama got the votes of 81 percent.

Yeah, yeah, Romney was very rich, and he said the 47 percent thing, and he had an elevator for his cars and all that. But cares-about-people-like-you is central to the Democratic Party’s image. And it’s a huge advantage. And Republicans know this.

Sometimes they respond by accusing Dems of waging “class warfare,” which is not too far from invoking the Communist menace. Recently they have adopted the phrase “free stuff,” as in Democrats are always offering “free stuff” to get your votes, which I suppose is meant to combine an accusation of bribery and an invocation of a more complicated argument that, since nothing is really free, Democrats’ ideas will inevitably lead to higher taxes or higher deficits and economic collapse.

We are at an interesting moment on this cares-about-people thing. The U.S. economy is growing. It actually has been pretty much throughout the Obama years, and growing faster and more steadily than most economies in the world. But apparently some Republicans are no longer denying that it is growing. The unemployment rate is approaching a number that is usually considered healthy, or at least in the normal range. But, by every accounting, the recovery has mostly benefited the affluent more than the middle and lower classes.

Republicans have now started complaining that the recovery is not helping the average American enough. They have begun invoking the phrase “income inequality,” which we usually hear more about from Democrats.

House Speaker John Boehner said in an interview on last weekend’s “60 Minutes” that “frankly the president’s policies have made income inequality worse.” Sen. (and undeclared presidential candidate) Ted Cruz said at the “Freedom Partners” meeting last weekend that “The people who have been hammered for the last six years are working men and women.”

When Democrats talk about about income inequality, Republicans often portray it as the first step down the road to class warfare. But when Republicans fret about income inequality, it strikes me as the first step toward arguing that they care about people like you.

The next question is what do they propose to do about it?

The daily “First Read” memo from NBC News this morning puts the question squarely. Under the subhead “The GOP’s problem with their new income-inequality message,” the NBCers ask: “So, how do you fix it?”

Obama favors raising the minimum wage. He favors closing tax loopholes that benefit rich individuals and corporations. He wants to make two years of community college available for free. The single biggest thing that Obamacare did to provide health insurance to those who couldn’t afford it was to expand the Medicaid program for the working poor. He has lots of ideas that — without getting sucked in here to the argument over how effective they would be — clearly and straightforwardly take money from the rich and provide benefits to the non-rich. Republicans oppose all those things. But now, fairly suddenly, they are asking to be taken seriously as the party that is concerned about income inequality.

So, what policies do they propose to reduce income inequality?  Stay tuned.

Comments (52)

  1. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 01/27/2015 - 11:47 am.

    Stay tuned

    …but don’t hold your breath. At present there may be individual Republicans who do actually care about “people like you” (I’ve not met any personally, but I think they deserve the benefit of the doubt), but the party as a whole – based on its own policy proposals and actions – cares much more about the affluent and corporations.

    Most Republican policy proposals begin with the phrase “reduce taxes,” and in recent years, at least, one of the most hated concepts in the GOP lexicon has been “income redistribution.” This is a political party whose members and policy proposals over the past couple of generations have promoted precisely the sort of income inequality that they now say is a problem requiring a solution. I look forward to the pretzel-like policy and logical gymnastics that will be necessary for those same Republicans to now seriously propose something meaningful in the way of a remedy for income inequality. It should be entertaining.

    • Submitted by Todd Hintz on 01/28/2015 - 07:56 am.

      So True

      Whenever the subject of jobs comes up, the Republican’s first and only response is “we need to reduce taxes on corporations and the ‘job creators’ and reduce regulations.” Never mind that it’s demand that creates jobs, not some rich person getting another $10,000 back on their taxes while middle and lower class wages are stagnant.

  2. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 01/27/2015 - 11:47 am.

    People like me

    For the most part, republican politicians do care about people like me … people who want to be left alone. The problems for the republican party is that people like me are in the minority and so a certain amount of pandering will occur.

    The political scientists like to call this type of pandering “populism” but whether it’s Romney telling it like it is to his wealthy donors (47% of the people wouldn’t be voting for him regardless of his promises of tax reform because they don’t pay taxes), a large majority of the people want to be told that they’re victims in all this and the government is going to fix it for them.

    They tend to vote for the other party so Cruz is barking up the wrong tree.

    • Submitted by Jonathan Ecklund on 01/27/2015 - 12:10 pm.

      People like you are also incorrect about that 47% percent number. Those people DO pay taxes… state income, sales, gas, payroll, FICA, etc. They don’t meet the income threshold to pay _federal_ income taxes.

      • Submitted by Tim Walker on 01/27/2015 - 01:47 pm.

        Thanks for the correction, Jonathan

        Yes, conservatives like to spout off about the 47% who in their minds don’t pay taxes.

        But that figure is only accurate if it is limited to federal income taxes.

        Conservatives nearly always find a way to omit that very important caveat … and that makes one think that they are doing it on purpose … because heaven knows we liberals are always pointing out their “mistake” of omission!

        • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 01/27/2015 - 04:04 pm.

          When a person is running for president

          of the United States, it seems to me that federal incomes taxes are the only taxes that they would have any control over. The president has no control over your property taxes or your state sales taxes so what difference does it make? When Romney said “These are people who pay no income tax” he wasn’t referring to state taxes, he meant federal income taxes and everyone there knew it.

          • Submitted by Scott Walters on 01/27/2015 - 04:37 pm.

            Federal Payroll Taxes

            One of the biggest taxes most working people pay. Social Security Retirement, Social Security Disability, and Medicare.

            • Submitted by Joseph Skar on 01/27/2015 - 07:32 pm.

              Funny

              I was told those were benefits.

              • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 01/28/2015 - 09:28 pm.

                The taxes

                fund the benefits.

                • Submitted by Joseph Skar on 01/29/2015 - 09:22 am.

                  Correct, but…

                  Is the aggregate benefit greater than aggregate cost? I would hope so as I believe that was the intent of those safety net programs. So to call it a tax in the same breath as income tax seems disingenuous at best.

                  • Submitted by Todd Hintz on 01/30/2015 - 12:40 pm.

                    Tax Benefits

                    I’m not sure what point you’re trying to make there. Maybe I just haven’t had enough coffee yet today. Given that I don’t drink coffee, that would be true on any particular day.

                    Whether or not a tax is good or bad depends on whether or not someone thinks they’re getting a good value for the dollar. Most people think Social Security is good because it gives them a little something to live on in retirement. This came about in the 1930s during the Great Depression when the people who had retirement funds saw them wiped out and those without funds were simply screwed. Many had to move in with extended family and many more were out on the street, living homeless. Rather than let our elderly starve to death, Social Security was implemented. You won’t live in the Hamptons off of SS benefits, but it will keep you out of the soup line.

                    Income tax is more of a mixed bag. You put your money in and it goes into a large pool that is used to pay the government’s debts. There will always be something in the budget that any given person doesn’t like. One guy won’t like to pay for bombs and another doesn’t want to pay for a bridge in Alaska that will only serve a couple of thousand people. But there are literally countless benefits we all get from that tax payment, from good roads to a police force, gas pumps that don’t cheat you, and so on. Of course there are opposing forces; people and companies that don’t like some of those services the government provides, such as the guy who wants to dump dry cleaning chemicals in the ravine out back of his plant. Those people don’t like the oversight that government provides.

                    But by and large, income tax, like Social Security, is a good thing. We all chip in and we all benefit–that’s what builds a society.

                    • Submitted by Joseph Skar on 01/30/2015 - 04:33 pm.

                      Clarification

                      My point would be if you’re paying for a defined benefit that will generate a cash flow greater than the tax paid, should payments for the benefit really be included your tax exposure? (I would say no).

                      To your comment, I don’t have an opinion on if a specific tax is good or bad, but from my perspective there is a clear difference between paying for a benefit and paying a tax that goes to the general fund. If you are going to conclude paying for a benefit is a tax I would think you would need to gross up income in some manner.

                      I always found the E&Y tax incidence study odd because they fail to make this distinction. On one hand you increase the tax liability for SS and Medicare but you never account for the future income offset. It just seems like you are intentionally overstating an individuals short-term effective tax rate for political expediency. If you do want to include the benefit payments as tax at least do some kind of income gross up. Apples to Apples?

  3. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 01/27/2015 - 12:00 pm.

    Leftist “caring” vs. conservative pragmatism

    There is a cable show, called “Shark tank”, which I’m confident no leftist could sit through 5 minutes of. It involves would-be entrepreneurs pitching their business ideas to a panel of self-made billionaires, in hopes they’ll invest.

    The investors are ruthlessly self-interested. They invest in people that have proved they have something going on that provides a good chance profits will be made, and turn pipe dreamers that have put out no effort on their own into mush.

    My favorite part is where they follow-up on people who have succeeded in attracting an investment. Scenes of the entrepreneurs toasting single moms that have just earned their first million. Groups of lifelong friends pooling their resources and pulling together to make a dream a brick and mortar reality hand over their first 6 figure royalty check, beaming with pride in what they have done. Young couples that have quit their 9 to 5 jobs and are building something of real value to pass down to their kids.

    I’ve looked these businesses up, I’ve seen their products in stores; they are real, and so are the people that own them.

    I honestly don’t think the leftist version; “Third Party Philanthropists”, would hold as much appeal. A panel of wealthy liberals handing over the audience’s money dependent only on how wonderful and special it makes the panel feel, and wholly irrespective of the results, doesn’t sound like a winner on TV or in real life.

    • Submitted by Rick Prescott on 01/27/2015 - 05:40 pm.

      Reality

      I love “Shark Tank!” There’s something exhilarating in all of the bluntness of the shark talk, and the blind optimism of the shark food — er, would-be entrepreneurs. (It’s on ABC, not cable, by the way.)

      But, Mr. Swift, you really should Google the program before you believe that what you see on the screen represents anything close to what actually happens in the making of the program. Pitch sessions go on for hours, deals are struck and then fall apart, dramatic interludes are manufactured by the producers despite having nothing to do with the actual process. Contestants are relentlessly squeezed. Portions are shot without the sharks even present. People who have been contestants tell stories about the finished programs that might really make you wonder whether anything you see about the show is real.

      Better yet, don’t Google the show. Google the products by name. Often you will find a dead link, or a web site that insists that the company will find a way to recover from their “Shark Tank” appearance (or worse, make no mention of the appearance on the show at all).

      But the show works because it all gets brilliantly edited together to make you believe just what the producers want you to believe. It’s a provocative fiction, just like a lot of “reality” TV. Is it any surprise that they only ever revisit the (relatively few) successes?

      In short, it’s just a TV show. And, basically, you’ve been suckered. (Me, too, of course. Though I never believed any of it to begin with. It’s just something fun to watch.)

      More than just a TV show, you are correct in that it’s the perfect metaphor for how the Republicans view the populace. They spin these fictional tales of rich people reaching down to fund the little guy, and only making money themselves because they’ve (selflessly or not) made it possible for some poor schlub to make money — to achieve the so-called American dream. They could only get richer if everyone else does, right?

      Yet, just like the lottery, the odds are stacked for the house. And for some reason, Americans continue to fall for this stuff. I really don’t know why. The statistics make it clear that nobody is getting richer except the already-rich. Well, maybe I do know why: It’s the same reason the casinos are regularly full to capacity, and lottery jackpots continue to grow.

      The Republican story is just like that TV show. It’s all done with manipulative storytelling and really good editing — and gold old repetition. We all know that if you repeatedly show only the few actual success stories, the rabble can’t help but dream a little bit and believe things which are extremely unlikely, even with a lot of work. Then they get on the bus to the casino — or open a small business — and we go around again.

      Luckily, not everybody in this country is a sucker for this story — yet.

      Let the last word come from someone who knows that he’s a lottery winner:

      “If poor people knew how rich rich people are, there would be riots in the streets.” — Chris Rock

      • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 01/28/2015 - 11:46 am.

        http://www.businessinsider.com/shark-tank-success-stories-2014-11#wicked-good-cupcakes-1

        I’ve checked all 12, and they are all in business.

        Here’s dozens more; all authentic.

        http://asseenonsharktank.net/shark-tank-product-reviews/

        The fact is Rick, although I’m aware a couple of these investments have failed to pan out (they admit as much on the show) I haven’t found one single “dead link” for any company the show is tied to; not one….perhaps you can point me in the right direction?

        I have no doubt the show is edited. Often these deals involve millions of dollars; no one believes those successful businessmen and women make spur-of-the-minute decisions like that on the back of envelopes.

        And it’s clear that the investors are convinced there is profit in there for them, and the more risk they see, the more equity they want for their investment…you can call that stacking the deck, I guess.

        Edited or not, it is a wonderful example of how capitalism works and that hard work does still mean something, and can pay off big. I like to believe there are thousands of kids out there watching, and planning their own business ventures.

        You’re experience may differ.

        • Submitted by Rick Prescott on 01/29/2015 - 10:33 am.

          Winners and Losers

          Oh, yes. Sites for the winners are robust and well-kept. The winners have nothing but accolades for the program and their experiences. That is just what you would expect.

          I’m interested in the variety of experiences, which you really must consider to get a full picture of the show (and the world beyond it). So I often look up every product that gets pitched. Those who do not get deals tell a very different story. That is also what you might expect, of course. (Sorry, but I don’t keep track of them so I can’t give you any specific links. But I encourage you to try it sometime.)

          It serves to illustrate my point that there are both winners and losers, and the losers FAR OUTNUMBER the winners. I have read that the show gets thousands of applications from people who never make it past the initial screening.

          And the sharks definitely are looking out for their own interests, which regularly causes them to bypass interesting ideas simply because investing would not be profitable for them. In fact, the potential personal profit is (understandably) the only criteria they use. The already-insanely-wealthy sharks literally pick and choose who the winners and losers will be based solely on how it might benefit them, which often (but not always) becomes a fait accompli.

          I don’t object to this specifically, but it is an important observation about how our system works, and it SHOULD inform everyone who dreams of being a “self-made” anything. The very strong lesson about capitalism embedded in the show is: Your idea is only as good as it can make an already-rich person richer. And your chances for success on your own, while not zero, are genuinely infinitesimal.

          The best strategy for getting rich? Being born into a wealthy family.

          And lest you think this is sour grapes, I’m a successful small business owner of some 20+ years. But I do also have experience with angel investors related to a second business, and it supports the notion that the best thing you can do for yourself in our system is help someone who already has a lot of money make even more. In other words, to get an investment, you will need to give up a large share of any profit you stand to make. These deals are often only for suckers.

          Where this matters, and where it applies to the Republican approach to the populace in general, is that people are tricked into voting against their own best interests by (among other things) trumped up claims about the benefits of ensuring that the rich always get richer. To the extent that those benefits to society exist at all, they accrue to a very tiny and lucky sliver of the populace. Most people will never see any benefit whatsoever from ensuring that the rich get richer. Even job creation doesn’t rely on or benefit from it.

          In reality, current tax policies support the wealthy to the detriment of everyone else — except that tiny sliver of entrepreneurial lottery winners. The deception comes in when you try to convince everyone that they might win that lottery if they just stick with tax policies the way they are, and “work hard.”

          The strong implication is that, if you leave things the way they are, the sharks just might pick you.

          People believe stuff like that, and it’s just so incredibly unlikely that it is essentially a lie. And selling that crap to the populace, which the Republican party does in order to keep the current system of wealth transfer in place, will be the ultimate end to capitalism as we know it, because it’s not sustainable.

          Eventually, all the wealth will be transferred, and Chris Rock’s words quoted above will turn out to have been prophetic.

      • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 01/28/2015 - 12:59 pm.

        I have looked into the businesses created. They exist. Minnpost censors forbid listing links, so you’re on your own.

        Haven’t found a single “dead link”.

        Of course the show is edited. No one believes those investors make million dollar decisions on the back of envelopes, well, almost no one I guess.

    • Submitted by Sean Huntley on 01/27/2015 - 11:58 pm.

      Speaking of Shark Tank

      “Billionaire investor Mark Cuban isn’t a fan of tax inversions.

      In a series of tweets and interviews, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks said companies that buy a company to take advantage of another country’s lower tax rate are “gaming the system.” If the trend continues, he expects taxes in the U.S. will increase across the board.

      He suggested investors should consider selling shares of companies that utilize the tactic.

      “If I own stock in your company and you move offshore for tax reasons I’m selling your stock,” Mr. Cuban said Friday morning on Twitter TWTR -2.94%. “There are enough investment choices here.”

      In a subsequent tweet, he added: “When companies move off shore to save on taxes, you and I make up the tax shortfall elsewhere sell those stocks and they won’t move.””

      • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 01/28/2015 - 09:52 am.

        Good for Mark. I’ve always believed it’s better to stand your ground and fight for what you believe is right than cut and run. Cuban’s threat is large enough to make some companies think twice, I’d guess.

  4. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 01/27/2015 - 12:11 pm.

    The structural changes in the economy (at the heart, there is far too much capacity to produce that is in excess of people’s ability to consume) have made it very difficult for anyone or party to raise the income of significant numbers of people.

    As industry relocated, rebuilt and automated, the entire goal was to minimize the use of high-priced labor and return more money to the ownership. Increased production with reduced employment (especially in the US) resulted. More of the profits flow into the same hands.

    Until that paradigm changes, there is no answer.

    And income inequality will remain a political football that stays in play near the 50 yard line without anyone really being able to score or win for the workers.

    • Submitted by Scott Walters on 01/27/2015 - 04:52 pm.

      Tax Policy Still Matters

      The phenomenon you describe is absolutely true and a fundamental cause. It will continue for a while…mate Google’s self-driving car with car2go. Taxi driver just disappeared as a job (and Uber is finished, too.) That’s between five and ten years from now. Over the road trucker is probably not too far behind. Car sales will likely plummet. Auto body shops, car dealers, car washes – far less need for any of them. Auto loan originator – useless. Millions of displaced workers, and many of these are the exact jobs that high school diplomas still properly prepare one to succeed at.

      But the total amount of GDP keeps going up. Income and wealth keep being generated. It isn’t that there’s a shortage of income or wealth, it ‘s just been concentrated, and more and more of it is “earned” by capital than by labor.

      Raise the capital gains tax, increase the estate tax, increase the income tax on high earners, and provide a safety net better calibrated to maintain incentives to work. Earned income tax credit, increased minimum wage, increase the Pell Grant, simplify the structure to minimize the perverse disincentives to work that some programs create.

      I’ve got no problem with hard working smart people making a lot of money. My issue is with exceptionally wealthy people creating perpetual trusts and dynasties that control vast wealth for generations and manipulate the rules to protect the privileges that they in no way earned or merit.

  5. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 01/27/2015 - 01:44 pm.

    Just a few tweaks

    First, and perhaps foremost, there are no “self-made billionaires.” Billionaires who inherited a fortune have, of course, done nothing to earn it. Every billionaire who did not inherit their fortune has relied upon either the money or the expertise of others in their field, or they’ve relied upon both. If their business deals at all with a thing called a “customer,” then they’ve further relied upon other people to produce and/or deliver that product or service. That they profit from the labor of others may be true, but that doesn’t make it admirable.

    I certainly agree that few humans on the planet are more “ruthlessly self-interested” than a nouveau-riche billionaire, especially when s/he is a true believer in the same mythology that has seduced Mr. Swift. Having watched the show a few times myself – I was able to last quite a bit longer than 5 minutes, but not long enough to make watching a regular habit – what it appears to appeal to is a combination of ego-stroking in the case of those “self-made” billionaires, and greed on the part of the people making a pitch for venture capital.

    There ARE people among the entrepreneurial class that I actually respect, but they risked their own money, not that of a venture capitalist sugar daddy whose only interest in them or their product is financial. It takes a lot more character to mortgage your house to finance an invention or a franchise or some other small business than it does to convince a “ruthlessly self-interested” billionaire that s/he will make a truckload of money more than they invest by financing the pitcher’s new venture. Occasionally, someone IS building something of real value to pass on to their kids – if the kids want their lives to have the same focus as the lives of their parents. More often, what I saw in those newly-minted single moms is simple greed. More deserving of respect are those groups of lifelong friends and their 6-figure royalty check (keeping in mind that “group of friends” and “individual” are mutually exclusive), though that, too, speaks more to greed than anything else. They like the idea and reality of making lots of money. Understandable, but hardly worthy of the worshipful attitude adopted by Mr. Swift.

    While I admire Mr. Swift’s attempt at humor via “Third Party Philanthropists,” it’s a failure. Only in his own mind do people to his left politically strive to hand over “the audience’s money” to a panel of incompetents. Liberal businessmen can be just as hard-headed and self-interested as conservative ones. They often, however, have different ideas about how that money should be earned, or what should be done with it after it’s been acquired.

  6. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 01/27/2015 - 01:46 pm.

    Caring vs. not caring.
    The

    Caring vs. not caring.

    The first difference is whether the person actually wants to learn the circumstances of your life and how it is different than their own.

    And then comes their acknowledgement that you are generally trying to do the best you can with the hand that life has dealt you.

    And then comes a mutually agreed upon path to doing better.

    Let’s all try to remember the outcome of the last Republican “middle class economics”–the “ownership economy” of GWB where the final profiteers were the banks and financial institutions who supped mightily at the public trough (and are now working hard to make sure that the next round of stripping assets from America is on the books again with the defeat of financial regulation)

    • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 01/27/2015 - 04:35 pm.

      Actually

      George Bush was promoting an “ownership society” because he knows that people take care of their own property better than would property they only rent. This phenomenon helps to build neighborhoods into safe places to raise children. The conservative approach is to encourage behavior that results in positive change. The liberal approach is to take a good idea and mandate it. They mandate and use the power of government to try to force positive change and we’ve seen over the past 60 years how well that’s worked.

      And so it was once again the democrat-controlled congress who forced banks to make loans to people who had no chance in hell of paying it back that started the ball rolling to fiscal collapse in this country.

      I’m surprised you got it so wrong. It was in all the papers.

      • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 01/27/2015 - 05:24 pm.

        Actually

        And so it was once again Mr. Tester repeating an oft-debunked talking point, this time about subprime lending to poor people being the cause of the 2008 crash.

        http://www.nber.org/papers/w20848

        “When we break out the volume of mortgage origination from 2002 to 2006 by income deciles across the US population, we see that the distribution of mortgage debt is concentrated in middle and high income borrowers, not the poor. Middle and high income borrowers also contributed most significantly to the increase in defaults after 2007. ”

        I’m surprised he got it so wrong. It was in all the papers, and continues to be in all the papers.

  7. Submitted by charles thompson on 01/27/2015 - 01:55 pm.

    Caring?

    Have you seen the speechifying from last weekends Iowa shindig? They need velcro trainers, shoe laces are way too dangerous and complex. Could be an entrepreneurial opportunity which I look forward to seeing on shark tank with that nice Cuban fellow. Is the Donald on there too?

  8. Submitted by charles thompson on 01/27/2015 - 02:45 pm.

    And the star of the show was Sarah Palin, who, I’m sorry to report is looking and sounding like a character on Breaking Bad.I really don’t think caring comes into it. Autonomic functions are using all the available brain power. Try and figure out Huckabees extended pig and sausage speech for extra credit.

  9. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 01/27/2015 - 03:05 pm.

    Describing a single mom that succeeds in created her own businesses as inherently “greedy”, while finding nobility in the same result, differing only in that it includes a group of unrelated people, provides an fascinating insight into the deep hate for the individual leftist worldview holds.

    It’s stuff like this that keeps me reading the Minnpost.

  10. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 01/27/2015 - 03:24 pm.

    To Care About Other People, Especially Those Not Like Yourself

    requires the the ability to experience and express empathy and compassion be intact.

    For far too man wealthy folks and those who sycophantically admire them, those aspects of their personalities have long since been beaten out of them (literally or figuratively) by families with the same dysfunction,…

    or by unfortunate events in their own lives.

    For such folk, the pursuit of money and power becomes a substitute by which they attempt to make up for the fact that they are singularly incapable of relating to others in healthy, warm, loving, ways.

    Of course money and power make a very poor substitute for interpersonal warmth and love, and lacking the ability to pursue any other approach, such people always believe MORE money and power will put them in the position to get what they most need from other people.

    That doesn’t work, either. It’s NEVER enough.

    Do our Republican friends care about us. No. They’re not capable of doing so nor of even comprehending the need to do so nor how to go about doing so,…

    unless, of course, there’s a financially positive answer to the question, “What’s in it for me?”

  11. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 01/27/2015 - 04:29 pm.

    Bases

    It may be a case of projection, but I sort of believe that Republicans care about the people in our base in roughly the same way I care about the people in their base. And that’s not zero. Like Republicans at least claim, I think what’s good for my people is ultimately good for their people and ultimately all of us.

    • Submitted by Scott Walters on 01/27/2015 - 05:08 pm.

      I wish I could be so charitable

      But I really doubt it.

      Case in point:

      http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/end-obamacare-and-people-could-die-thats-okay/2015/01/23/f436df30-a1c4-11e4-903f-9f2faf7cd9fe_story.html

      Down toward the bottom of his editorial, Michael Strain of the American Enterprise Institute advocates for a health insurance scheme that would “be designed to financially protect people from low-probability events, rather than provide comprehensive coverage for all health events, as Obamacare envisions.”

      This interpretation is disingenuous, at best. Most of the Bronze Plans are high deductible plans that do exactly what Mr. Strain recommends. So are many of the Silver Plans. I guess that mandate to free access to vaccines and one wellness visit per year is an grievous imposition.

      No, wait, herd immunity saves all of us money, as does catching that weird infection early before it eats your intestines and you end up on the transplant list.

      • Submitted by Hiram Foster on 01/28/2015 - 08:09 am.

        Strain

        I did see that, and I thought that was a pretty remarkable piece. I hope it’s one that no legislator, Democrat or Republican, would subscribe to.

        My insight into what is in people’s hearts is limited. I don’t think a lot of people in politics see the world Strain does, and all of us have reason to be grateful for that. I have talked with people about political issues who quite literally see me as the devil incarnate. I make a pretty deliberate effort and choice not to believe that of people who disagree with me.

        Something I have been thinking about lately is that Republicans with their veneration for logic seemed to have reasoned themselves into a corner. Without going into a lot of outside the scope of this thread detail, with respect to health care, they have seemed to have argued themselves into the position in effect, that while providing health care is a worthy goal, we can’t achieve it because actually paying for health care hurts the economy,

  12. Submitted by Tom Lynch on 01/27/2015 - 05:16 pm.

    The GOP’s problem is that rank-and-file Republican voters lack the empathy gene. The have little or no ability to empathize with anyone that doesn’t think or act (or sometimes , look) like they do. The party has devolved into a cult more than a political party.

  13. Submitted by Joe Musich on 01/27/2015 - 09:10 pm.

    No to the question …

    There is no evidence that the GOP cares about the masses.

    • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 01/28/2015 - 09:38 am.

      Charitable giving

      A study by Google found annual contributions reported by conservatives were almost double those of liberals.

      http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/21/opinion/21kristof.html?_r=0

      • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 01/28/2015 - 12:09 pm.

        Read the tax code

        again.
        You and I (I assume that you pay taxes) pay most of it.

      • Submitted by jason myron on 01/28/2015 - 01:22 pm.

        One study done seven years ago?

        Oh, well…it’s settled then. A new standard of empirical evidence has just been set. No wonder you people dismiss climate change.

      • Submitted by Jonathan Ecklund on 01/28/2015 - 01:27 pm.

        No, it didn’t. Arthur C. Brooks said it.

        You’ve given us a 7 year-old opinion piece, which cites a book that was written two years prior to that (06), by a member of the American Enterprise Institute, which then cites a Google study (and ‘other’ data) but provides no links to said study or it’s methodology.

        This proves nothing. That’s MY charitable assessment.

      • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 01/28/2015 - 07:15 pm.

        I’ll bite!

        Would social distribution programs be considered “Charitable” in nature, if not why not? Specifically the ones our taxes cover.
        Do progressives tend to willfully pay more taxes and expect more social programs form our governments?

        Bonus: The Koch brothers are planning on spending ~ $889 Million in the 2016 election, those funds are “Tax Exempt” also called “Charitable contributions” perhaps your source should insure they separate the wheat form the chafe, or do we consider millionaire politicians, charity cases?

    • Submitted by Todd Hintz on 01/28/2015 - 12:33 pm.

      GOP Positions

      You’re right on the money with that perception. The GOP were the ones who voted against extending unemployment benefits during the Great Recession.

      They also
      -Want to insert the government between women and their doctors via abortion restrictions, vaginal ultrasound, and birth control restrictions.
      -Want to reduce taxes to businesses and the wealthy, even though they’re already rich. What do they need yet more tax cuts for?
      -Are vehemently opposed to universal health care, even though it will help the little guy and businesses alike.
      -Oppose minimum wage standards and would like to see it completely repealed.
      -Deny global warming because it might inconvenience business owners.

      The GOP are for a few things, however.
      -Reducing regulations, because we all like to eat more pollution.
      -Tax cuts for the wealthy, because they’re…not rich enough yet.
      -More drilling so everyone can drive an SUV. Go ,’Murica!
      -More wars because chest thumping is good! And contractors can sell more bombs to the government. Think of it as munitions welfare.

      Basically if it favors big business, then the GOP is for it. If something is proposed that helps the little guy, then not so much.

  14. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 01/28/2015 - 12:04 pm.

    Compare

    Republicans say that “Democrats are always offering “free stuff” …[and], since nothing is really free, Democrats’ ideas will inevitably lead to higher taxes or higher deficits and economic collapse” – that is an accusation Mr. Black throws at Republicans. But then he says that “Obama favors raising the minimum wage. He favors closing tax loopholes that benefit rich individuals and corporations. He wants to make two years of community college available for free. The single biggest thing that Obamacare did to provide health insurance to those who couldn’t afford it was to expand the Medicaid program for the working poor. He has lots of ideas that — without getting sucked in here to the argument over how effective they would be — clearly and straightforwardly take money from the rich and provide benefits to the non-rich” proving that Democrats do offer “free things.”

    What about “economic collapse?” Well, that is how it started in the Soviet Union – “we will take form exploiters and give to exploited.” Pretty soon there was nothing to take and so it went – for 75 years until economy did collapse. No one had anything in the Soviet Union – no inequality at all, the way people think of here, that is on money ownership. But Communist bosses lived in a different world meaning that they were getting things in special stores where no one else was allowed to come… Apparently, some were more equal than others… Envy and desire to take from a neighbor is not a creative force.

    Now many would say that it is a wrong example, it can’t happen here, etc. But people are people and they are the same everywhere and if they are given “free stuff” they will not work.. And Western European countries are not a good example either – if they had to pay for their defense in full (a tab now picked up by America), their economies would have faltered long ago. So the only way to really care about inequality is to let people work.

    Mr. Schoch, why do you judge those self-made millionaires? At least they do something for society (new product, new idea, new service) while earning their millions. And they do work hard. And liberal businessmen earn their money exactly the same way conservative ones do. And for some reason, when talking about millionaires, liberals always think about business people. What about all liberal actors, writers, athletes, etc? Do they work hard? And what do they give to people? And, by the way, they all despise little people http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2014-11-23/why-do-democrats-look-down-on-voters?cmpid=yhoo.

    • Submitted by chuck holtman on 01/28/2015 - 05:39 pm.

      Let’s be a bit more analytical.

      1. All actions of government impose costs differently from the way they distribute benefits. Therefore every single thing government does (investing in infrastructure, adopting laws or regulations that structure private activity, administering societal insurance or social programs, doing research) is “giving free stuff.” The relevant question in critiquing government isn’t whether it’s “giving free stuff.” The relevant question is whether the way that it is redistributing wealth and advantages comports with our societal goals and principles.

      2. The laws that create a structure in which wealth is generated and distributed thru private economic activity are no different conceptually from the laws that effect a redistribution of that wealth (it isn’t even coherent to speak of them as two separate things). A free market economy isn’t justified by the equity of its wealth distribution, it’s justified by the productivity and creativity it engenders. Causing the wealth distribution that results from that activity to conform more closely with societal goals and principles is an essential element of our self-governance as a society.

      3. Accordingly, taxation doesn’t “take” money that you “own.” What you “own” is determined within the framework of laws that prescribe both the structure for you to acquire wealth and how much of that wealth you put back into the pot. What you “own” is what’s left.

      4. Without a further demonstration, the fact that someone has accrued wealth doesn’t say anything about whether that person has “done something for society.” Welfare economists assume autonomous preferences among “buyers” because without that assumption their discipline would cease to exist. But preferences are not autonomous. In addition, all economic activity of any importance (i.e., above the level of purchasing toothpaste) is subject to endemic and profound levels of the canonical market failures. Moving from the conceptual to the observational, we all know of folks who are extremely wealthy because they invented something that greatly enhanced social welfare, but we also all know that most folks who are extremely wealthy got that way by exploiting market failures (e.g., those in the military/industrial/national security complex), by capitalizing on phenomena that are deeply destructive, or by taking advantage of herd preferences.

      5. You commit the error of arguing from extremes in suggesting that the only choices are to have a government that never commits an act with a redistributive effect, or to have a government that arrives to tell you that 12 other families will now live with you in your house and your business is now owned by the state. Self-governance involves balancing the incentives to produce of a private economy against the mal-distribution of wealth and opportunity that can result from it, along with myriad other considerations. It has nothing to do with “envy,” it has to do with working in good faith to combine incentives toward self-reliance and creative enterprise with shared notions of basic goods and insurance to maximize the level of self-determination that each person can experience in a very complex and crowded society. That is why every economy in the world is a mixed economy.

      6. As to the title, “Do Republicans really care about people like you?”, my only comment is “What?”

      • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 01/28/2015 - 10:15 pm.

        Analytical is good

        Free stuff by definition is the stuff one does not pay. So paying taxes is paying for government services and, therefore, taxpayers do not get free stuff (they may get something at discounted prices because others overpay but not free). People who do not pay taxes do, indeed, get all government services for free, or, at least, most of them since it is hard not to pay gasoline taxes, for example. And that is in addition to getting literally free money as welfare payments.

        Free market is indeed justified by its efficiency not equity of wealth distribution and that is why government’s interference is problematic. I mean it is not problematic because it redistributes wealth (in this case only the way it redistributes it may be problematic, not the concept) but because it hinders economic efficiency by certain actions. The same with taxation – not the fact but the way is (or may be) problematic if, for example, it rewards laziness and punishes initiative.

        There is no correlation between wealth and moral behavior and most people who are very wealthy may not “deserve” it. But that should be irrelevant as long as what they did was legal (by the way, making money on building F-15 is no less moral than on Dreamliner since the former is necessary to have the freedom to build the latter).

        I never argued that the only choice is between laissez-faire and communism/socialism. But who decides what mal-distribution is – government? And why are you so sure that its decision is the right one? Sure, redistribution itself is not a form of envy but endless promotion of “1 percenters” approach is feeding the envy that many people may have naturally instead of calming it down. And if every (normal working) economy in the world is a mixed one, the mix proportions may be very different and that I what determine the outcome in the long run.

        • Submitted by chuck holtman on 02/01/2015 - 08:47 am.

          The main point

          Mr Gutman – Brief responses (par 1) With due respect, your response is silly – your entire objection, then, would disappear if all who pay no taxes (which probably is nobody) each paid $1 to the gov’t (par 2) The efficient free market is an heuristic and doesn’t exist, and society’s goals are not limited to efficiency. Collective interference in the free market is inefficient, as is not interfering. The question is how to find the optimal position in a non-ideal world (par 3) The poor rob gas stations; the rich write the laws. (par 4) We – i.e., “the government,” make the decisions. I’m not at all confident we’re making the right ones – I’m certain we’re making the profoundly wrong ones – because as a civic society we’ve become grossly incompetent. But self-government is the only game in town. The solution is an education system that teaches critical thinking from the ground up – and once we get that in place, then in 25 years we’ll start on the path to being a competent society again. But there are a lot of forces that don’t particularly want a critical-thinking polis.

          But my main point is my comment #2: There’s a direct connection between laws that structure the private economy and the social welfare laws that raise such ire on the Right for their “redistribution.” The more the former are aligned with ideals of equal opportunity, the less the need for the latter. That is why the liberal viewpoint is misguided: it fails to look at the underlying structure that creates gross inequality of opportunity and instead focuses on more and more corrective redistribution, which is a losing game with respect to incentives, economic inefficiency and the politics. The Right, on the other hand, is perfectly happy with economic life as a non-meritocratic lottery where a very few get everything and everyone else gets a bunch of stories and false villains to make them feel better.

    • Submitted by Hiram Foster on 01/29/2015 - 06:57 am.

      Republicans say that “Democrats are always offering “free stuff” …[and], since nothing is really free, Democrats’ ideas will inevitably lead to higher taxes or higher deficits and economic collapse”

      Democrats say that we have to find a way to pay for stuff that isn’t free. While a Republican will tell you we can find ways to have things like health care and roads and bridges without paying for them, Democrats know all to well that these things must be paid for through taxes.

      I don’t know if the Mitt Romney’s of the world care about the rest of us. What does seem to be the case is they don’t have much of an understanding of what it’s like to be the rest of us. Take the “they want free stuff” idea. In Mitt Romney’s case, health care in his perception does seem to be free. His health care is paid for by the shareholders who own the company he works for. He doesn’t see a bill. “Freeness” is an element of his world, one that he projects on others. Poor people have no such illusions about health care, either with respect to the status quo ante, or now under Obamacare. Poor people know that health care is expensive, unaffordable, with always the potential to be financially ruinous. There are no shareholders to cover their bills. And they also have learned that while it reduces costs, there is nothing free about Obamacare either.

  15. Submitted by Steve Vigoren on 01/28/2015 - 03:05 pm.

    Does the GOP care

    The GOP bows down to the mega rich,
    so they can then be sort of rich,
    most everything they do and say,
    convinces me more, each and every day,

  16. Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 01/28/2015 - 06:59 pm.

    The big argument,

    is, who has their foot on the gas pedal and their hand on the steering wheel! Problem is we can’t agree on where we are going, how fast we are going or what the speed limit is, what kind of vehicle we should be driving, or the condition of the road way beneath us! And by the way we change our mind more often than the weather, and run our neighbors off the road when the opportunity presents itself because they are wearing what we consider (at least at this moment in time) the wrong color hat, bumper sticker, license plate, or a myriad of other senseless reasons. We are doomed to suffer our own self inflicted chaos.
    Is this the world they were thinking of when they wrote for all posterity: “We the people in order to forma more perfect union” ?

  17. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 01/28/2015 - 07:03 pm.

    Democrats and Republicans

    According to Mr. Lynch, Mr. Musich, Mr. Brandon, Mr. Myron, Mr. Ecklund, Mr. Hintz, and Mr. Vigoren, Republicans are selfish, not-caring bunch or racists and bigots… So basically, half the US is those terrible people… That is a strong position for accepting and open to other views liberals… On the other hand, I wonder what the proof is that Democrats care about people who don’t think like them (if they think of them as selfish, not caring bigots). Because they talk about that? Well, talk is cheap and history gave us many examples of that. What else? Want to give “free stuff” to all people? I do not think there is a single parental guidance book advocating giving as much to kids as possible and not asking for anything in return… Please also see my reference about Democrats’ thinking in my previous post…

  18. Submitted by Rich Crose on 01/28/2015 - 08:58 pm.

    How to Tax the Rich

    Anyone making more than 100 times the lowest paid employee in their company should pay a surtax. The tax should be progressive. It goes up at 150% and 200% and yes, like Wal-mart and Target, at 1000%. The highest rate for top execs exceeding 1000% should be a 90% tax rate –make a dollar, keep 10 cents.

    This will generate revenue from the 1% but it will also raise the lowest paid employee’s wages. When the CEO finds out he can’t give himself a raise without raising his taxes, he’s going to raise the lowest paid employee just to reduce his own taxes.

    Win-Win. Government gets more money from the 1%, lower end workers will eventually get a raise.

    The median American wage is $50,900. The median CEO income of the Fortune 500 is $10.8 million.

  19. Submitted by Maria Jette on 02/03/2015 - 11:19 am.

    Of COURSE they care about me…

    …as they do about all liberal, feminist, secular humanist, vegetarian, public radio listener, self-employed classical musicians. Granted, I’ve never actually felt the love, but I’m their fellow American citizen, so it MUST be there!

  20. Submitted by jason myron on 02/03/2015 - 01:00 pm.

    It’s there, Maria….

    Liberals, feminists, secular humanists, vegetarians, public radio listeners and self-employed classical musicians are their specialty

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