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Most policies favored by Americans would be considered progressive. Tax the rich more. Background checks on all gun transactions. Infrastructure spending. Marriage equality. Roe. Immigration reform. Environmental concerns....and on and on.
Yet, the nation's federal economic policies continue moving us further to the conservative right.
Yes, it's complicated....but yesterday's vote in the Tea House on the farm bill is a perfect example that helps to explain the apparent contradiction, or disconnect.
Last June, Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) forced a vote on a bill that would have cut $20 billion from SNAP. But conservatives said the cuts were not deep enough, Democrats said they were far too deep, and the bill failed, 234-195. That September, House Republicans drafted new legislation slashing $40 billion from the food stamp program. That bill passed the House with Republican votes only. After months of negotiations with the Democrat-controlled Senate, which wanted much lower cuts of around $4 billion, the House finally passed a farm bill 251-166 Wednesday that contains a "compromise" $9 billion in reductions to the food stamp program.
If necessary, reread that paragraph to capture the robust WTF-ness contained within.
What have Democrats and the White House been talking about most recently? Economic inequality, right? In fact, President Obama, followed by many other leading Democrats, defined economic inequality as the "defining issue of our time."
If economic inequality is the "defining issue of our time", as numerous leading Democrats have been claiming....and all the statistics, charts, graphs, and studies demonstrate that economic inequality is worse now in the U.S. than it has ever been in the industrialized modern era.....then what explains this.....
One hundred three Democrats voted against the farm bill, but 89 voted in favor. If 43 more Democrats had voted no, the farm bill would have failed.
If Democrats are actually serious when they repeat the talking point, 'economic inequality is the defining issue of our time', why vote to cut food benefits to those on the bottom of the economic inequality ladder?
If the $9 billion in food stamp reductions is added to the $11 billion cut from emergency stimulus funding to the SNAP program, the result means that approximately one million households will receive $90 less a month in food assistance. This while the richest of America's rich have captured almost all of the income gains over the last five years.
If economic inequality is the "defining issue of our time", it seems that it has gotten lost in translation, no?
Therein lies the primary reason why, in spite of a progressive-leaning electorate, the nation's federal economic policies continue to move us to the right. I suggest that this has always been the case in America because, from it's formation, the federal government has seen it's role as the protectors of the investor class.
In the government's recent striving to protect and defend the investor class, Democrats, the alleged party of the people, have ever-so-methodically joined with the political party owned by the investor class, the GOP, to negate the will of the majority of Americans.
Naturally...this is all because of money in politics....now steroidally-enhanced by the egregious, bordering-on-treasonous, Citizens United ruling by the ultra-conservative Supreme Court. If you've forgotten....elected congressional members now spend an average of four hours, every day, fundraising for their re-election campaigns.
Wealthy political donors, through the activist groups they anonymously flood with cash, now write our laws, install important committee chairmanships and dictate our national policies.
So, while talking points about income and wealth inequality have been on the lips of quite a number of Democrats lately.....it's the money that is driving their votes. Yes, this may sound like a broken record, but the investor class is primarily interested in cutting government spending in order to clear the deck for lowering tax rates for themselves and trimming federal regulations on the business-kingdoms they sit atop.
Ergo, the mighty push to cut government spending during our worse modern economic catastrophe. Even to the point of cutting spending for Americans who are, and have been, struggling to pay for enough food for their families.
Sure, there are tradeoffs necessary in any compromise agreement. I get that. But if those tradeoffs under a Democratic president and Senate result in making a mockery of your own "defining issue of our time" talking point concerning inequality......then all that talking point is....is talk.
And talk is cheap.