How the Republican party is like bundled cable

Okay, the Democratic Party is, too, to be fair.  You are getting the Food Network whether you want it or not and only watch sports and science channels.  Likely you may live for all the movie channels, but you are also getting all the news networks you ignore.  If you want the low taxes on rich people of the Republican Party that also comes with a major helping of racial resentment.  If you want racial resentment, you also get low taxes on rich people.  Much like many cable channels nobody ever seems to watch continue to survive, really unpopular political positions do so because they are bundled with more popular positions– like racial resentment.

Loved this column from Krugman:

These are, it turns out, related stories, all of them tied to the two great absences in American political life.

One is the absence of socially liberal, economically conservative voters. These were the people Schultz thought he could appeal to; but basically they don’t exist, accounting for only around, yes, 4 percent of the electorate.

The other is the absence of economically liberal, socially conservative politicians — let’s be blunt and just say “racist populists.” There are plenty of voters who would like that mix, and Trump pretended to be their man; but he wasn’t, and neither is anyone else.

Understanding these empty quarters is, I’d argue, the key to understanding U.S. politics…

Meanwhile, the modern Republican Party is all about cutting taxes on the rich and benefits for the poor and the middle class. And Trump, despite his campaign posturing, has turned out to be no different.

Hence the failure of our political system to serve socially conservative/racist voters who also want to tax the rich and preserve Social Security. Democrats won’t ratify their racism; Republicans, who have no such compunctions, will — remember, the party establishment solidly backed Roy Moore’s Senate bid — but won’t protect the programs they depend on…

But why are there so few voters holding the reverse position, combining social/racial liberalism and economic conservatism? The answer, I’d argue, lies in just how far to the right the G.O.P. has gone.

Polling is unambiguous here. If you define the “center” as a position somewhere between those of the two parties, when it comes to economic issues the public is overwhelmingly left of center; if anything, it’s to the left of the Democrats. Tax cuts for the rich are the G.O.P.’s defining policy, but two-thirds of voters believe that taxes on the rich are actually too low, while only 7 percent believe that they’re too high. Voters support Elizabeth Warren’s proposed tax on large fortunes by a three-to-one majority. Only a small minority want to see cuts in Medicaid, even though such cuts have been central to every G.O.P. health care proposal in recent years.

Why did Republicans stake out a position so far from voters’ preferences? Because they could. As Democrats became the party of civil rights, the G.O.P. could attract working-class whites by catering to their social and racial illiberalism, even while pursuing policies that hurt ordinary workers.

The result is that to be an economic conservative in America means advocating policies that, on their merits, only appeal to a small elite. Basically nobody wants these policies on their own; they only sell if they’re packaged with racial hostility. [emphasis mine]

Whatever the least popular Democratic policies are (and I’m not sure) there’s not even remotely a contest with the Republicans love of low taxes on rich people.  Asymmetry!

Where the money is

With the rich people.  This David Leonhardt column is so good. I love how he re-frames America’s growing inequality in recent decades:

Imagine for a moment that a presidential candidate made this speech:

My fellow Americans, I’m here today to tell you about my economic plan. Each year, I will require every middle-class family across this great country to write a check. We will then pool the money and distribute it to the richest Americans among us — the top 1 percent of earners, who, because of their talent, virtue and success, deserve even more money.

The exact size of the checks will depend on a family’s income, but a typical middle-class household will hand over $15,000 each year. This plan, I promise all of you, will create the greatest version of America that has ever existed.

You would consider that proposal pretty radical, wouldn’t you? Politically crazy. Destructive, even. Well, I’ve just described the actual changes in the American economy since the 1970s.

Economic output — known as G.D.P. — per person has almost doubled over this period. But the bulk of the bounty has flowed to the very rich. The middle class has received relative crumbs.

If middle-class pay had increased as fast as the economic growth, the average middle-class family would today earn about $15,000 a year more than it does, after taxes and benefits. Instead, that middle-class family effectively forfeits the money to the rich, year after year after year…

The extreme redistribution of income — upward — has multiple causes. Some of them, like technological change, stem mostly from private-sector forces. But government policy plays a crucial role. Tax rates on the wealthy have fallen sharply. Labor unions have been undermined. Big companies have been allowed to grow even bigger and more powerful. The United States has lost its lead as the most educated country in the world.

More often than not over the past 40 years, our government has helped the rich at the expense of everyone else. As a result, economic inequality has reached Gilded Age levels. [emphasis mine]

In the face of these trends, the radical response is to do nothing — or to make inequality even worse, as President Trump’s policies have. It’s radical because soaring inequality is starting to threaten the basic fabric of American life…

It’s worth keeping all of this in mind when you hear critics (or journalists) describe the economic proposals of the Democratic presidential candidates as “radical.” They’re not radical, for the most part. The proposals are instead efforts to undo some of the extreme economic changes of recent decades and to ensure that most Americans workers — not just a narrow elite — fully benefit from economic growth.

Republicans and plutocrats are going to fight like hell against it.  But for the first time in a long time (forever?), I’m cautiously optimistic that we may actually get some meaningful policy change to actually address the situation.

 

%d bloggers like this: