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ProSense Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-27-11 09:39 AM
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The Ideological Fantasies of Inequality Deniers
Jonathan Chait

The Ideological Fantasies of Inequality Deniers

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The underlying facts, like the facts of climate change, are stark. Over the last few decades, income growth for most Americans has slowed to a crawl, while income for the very rich has exploded. Thats a reversal of the three decades following World War II, when all income groups got richer, with the poor and middle class rising at a faster rate than the rich. Crucially, the Congressional Budget Offices new analysis shows that changes in government policy over this period have made inequality worse. (In CBO-speak: The equalizing effect of transfers and taxes on household income was smaller in 2007 than it had been in 1979.)

Were not having a debate about how to reverse or even stop the growth of inequality. Nobody has a real plan to do that. The Democratic plan is to slightly arrest the growth of inequality by hiking taxes on the rich a few percentage points, so as to minimize the need to cut the social safety net. The Republican plan is to slash taxes for the rich and programs for the poor, thereby massively increasing inequality.

That is a hard position to defend in the context of exploding inequality, and conservatives would rather not defend it. Instead the rights response has been to persistently deny or ignore the facts. Rick Perry, pressed by a reporter to explain why he was proposing a tax plan that would widen income inequality further, replied, "I dont care about that." The Wall Street Journal editorial page today dismissed the Tax Policy Center, whose calculations persistently show the ways in which various Republican tax proposals would widen inequality, as liberal. It didnt even pretend to dispute the substance of the calculations. Eric Cantor gave a speech about income inequality centering on stories about how his grandmother worked hard and pulled herself up by the bootstraps in the old days. It was a nice speech if you like stories about plucky grandmothers. It failed to grasp the central dilemma, which is that it was a lot easier for poor people to move up sixty years ago, when tax rates on the rich happened to be far higher, than it is today.

Ah, but here comes Paul Ryan, fawned over in the media as the GOP's strongest policy wonk, to take the issue head on in a speech before the Heritage Foundation, hyped in advance by conservatives as a definitive statement of right-wing thought. Ryans speech is the portrait of a mind in the grips of an ideological fantasy, refusing to confront inconvenient facts.

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patrice Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-27-11 10:32 AM
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1. Transitions = Ideological phantisies abound throughout the political spectrum.
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