Sunday, March 08, 2009

Party Wars IV: A New Hope

I remember last year smug conservative local blog commenters, who, right after smugly asking liberal blog posters whether they have a degree in business or economics or own a company, would then extol the virtues of Michael Steele and Bobby Jindal. They are supposed to be smarter and more disciplined than their Democratic counterparts (read: Obama).

Except that now we have seen Michael Steele and Bobby Jindal up close. We have seen Michael Steele attempt to wrest control of the Republican party away from Rush Limbaugh by pointing out (quite rightly) that Limbaugh is primarily an entertainer, and his primary concern is ratings. If the conservative audience dwindles, Limbaugh would turn liberal like that. Not to say that most politicians don’t blow in the wind as well (e.g Arlen Specter, moderate Republican and Zell Miller, conservative southern Democrat), but entertainers almost by definition need to be able to change their philosophy or they will relegated to having a cult following (e.g. Ed Begley Jr).

And Bobby Jindal’s Republican reaction to the non-State of the Union address by President Obama was painful. His delivery reminded Jon Stewart of Fred Rodgers, and his rhetoric was simply to call once again for tax cuts. Why should we believe that the Republicans don’t want to follow Grover Nordquist’s philosophy of shrinking government to a size where it could be drown in a bath tub?

National talking heads have started to observe more and more that a sizable fraction of the population on the low end of the income scale not only does not pay tax but gets money back from the government. I see this as I prepare taxes for the poor at a VITA site, that they get three, four, five or even six thousand back in a tax return, including as much as forty eight hundred in earned income credit, and a refundable part of child tax credit up to a thousand dollars a child. So in addition to retuning federal taxes with-held, the feds give people thousands of dollars in additional income, to help them out for the year. Now, this is a matter of giving a single mom with two or three kid an extra five thousand dollars a year so, to stretch her income from $20,000 to $25,000, hardly giving her an opulent lifestyle.

My point in mentioning this is that these are the people who will see their assistance cut. Tax cuts are not going to hit rural red districts and rural red states. Conservatives who talk about cutting taxes one minute start talking about how defense is being cut too much the next, that our troops can do anything if we give them enough money (and out of work poor people to chew up). It’s head start and the earned income tax credit that conservatives are still gunning for. And if Mitch McConnell can turn around Arlen Specter and Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, even for one vote, then the Republicans (in the Senate) can demonstrate that the minority still controls the fate of this country. They may not be able to enact their own plans, but they would be able to keep the country from recovering from the recession that they caused. If they did that. Any bets that they would like to try (hint: did Rush Limbaugh say he would like Obama to succeed)?

No comments: