Republicans love them some rich people

That’s a quote from Chait yesterday.  And damn is it true.  I was honestly surprised by how much Democrats got out of this deal.  Why so much?  I thought they’d get rolled a lot worse.  Best explanation, tax cuts for rich people are really important to Congressional Republicans.  (Though less reported, another big part of the deal was keeping the Estate tax low for the very wealthiest of American families).  Why else give up so much to Democrats on unemployment benefits and a payroll tax cut (which primarily benefits low and modest income Americans)?  Here’s Chait:

Why were Republicans so flexible? They are willing to deal away a lot if they’re getting tax cuts for the rich. President Clinton got Republicans to establish a Childrens’ Health Insurance Program in 1997 in return for a capital gains tax cut. Now Obama got a fair amount of stimulus in return for upper-bracket tax cuts. Unfortunately, it tends to be terrible policy. But it’s the party’s core policy goal, and if you help them attain it they can be surprisingly reasonable.

Not to mention, if this doesn’t completely put the lie to their “oh, no, the deficit” posturing, nothing does.  Quite simply, we can see that the central motivating principle of the modern Republican party is lower taxes for rich people.  Seriously.  Nothing else is even close.  If it was the deficit, they certainly would not have made this deal.   If it was government spending, or the size of government, they would not have made this deal.  They made this deal because low taxes for rich people is the lodestar of Republicans in Congress.

I think this chart from Think Progress ultimately makes the case better than anything:

Truly mind-boggling.  Also mind-boggling, how the American people can be dumb enough to fall for this.  Republican Party–opiate of the masses?  Here’s Drum:

So is $216 billion vs. $125 billion a victory for the common man? Of course not. It means most of us get a few hundred dollars while the rich get hundreds of thousands or even millions each. The rich are willing to make that deal every day. Wouldn’t you?

It’s debatable whether we are a plutocracy or not. What’s not really debatable at this point is that plutocracy seems to be the governing principle of the institutional Republican party.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

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