Republicans can’t decide: Is inequality actually a problem — or is it all Obama’s fault?
Late last year, the Census Bureau reported that Americans who live below the poverty level own stuff! Cool stuff! With USB jacks and stuff!
“In fact, 80.9 percent of households below the poverty level have cell phones, and a healthy majority—58.2 percent—have computers,” reported right-wing outlet CNS “News.”
“The overwhelming majority of the poor have air conditioning, cable TV, and a host of other modern amenities,” The Heritage Foundation’s Robert Rector and Rachel Sheffield reported more somberly.
They have cell phones, the argument essentially goes, so let’s set them free and let the free market cure them!
This chart from the New York Times reveals the lie in the vapid assumption that material possessions indicate a decent quality of living.
Stuff like TVs and computers and toys and cell phones have gotten way cheaper. Meanwhile the costs of education and heath care have risen as wages have flat-lined.
Stuff that makes it look as if you’re in the middle class is in the abundance as the stuff that can get and keep you in the middle class get more and more expensive. And because more and more of the stuff we have was made abroad for unconscionably low wages, poor Americans are feeding a cycle that devalues labor as corporations take in record profits and the richest get richest-er.
Being poor dooms you to a shorter more unpredictable life where you’re far more likely to be arrested — especially if you’re a minority.
Republicans love to blame the increase on poverty in the aftermath of the Great Bush Recession on President Obama even as they try to cut everything we know keeps Americans out of poverty.
Refusing to expand Medicaid to 5 million Americans encourages them to earn less and end up on basic Medicaid. Repealing Obamacare would keep people trapped in jobs and constrained from starting new businesses. Burdening millions of working class people with lifetimes of student loan debt with trying to cut taxes for the rich is a recipe for a permanent underclass.
Republicans have proposed programs in the past that have actually alleviated poverty — foremost the earned income tax credit. But that was the pre-’47-percent’ party.
Today’s GOP has cut the earned income tax for working people in Michigan and other states. And while some Republicans have ideas to expand it, the House GOP has been too busy trying to take heath insurance from tens of millions of Americans.
They don’t need consistent access to health care, the right is saying. They have color TVs. It’s the epitome of knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing.