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Archive for February 7th, 2012

Women Do Evil Just As Well As Men

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The Evil Brilliance of Komen’s Karen Handel

Ilyse Hogue


Karen Handel in a Tuesday, August 10, 2010 file photo. (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)

This morning, Karen Handel resigned as the vice president of public policy of the Susan G. Komen foundation. Handel had spent the last week at the epicenter of the controversy around Komen’s decision to withdraw support for Planned Parenthood and several progressive groups were circulating petitions to call for her dismissal. Handel’s very public resignation letter shows a political acumen and sophisticated grasp of cultural narrative that seems to have eluded Komen generally and their CEO, Nancy Brinker, through this entire debacle.

Here’s an excerpt from the beautifully crafted letter:

What was a thoughtful and thoroughly reviewed decision—one that would have indeed enabled Komen to deliver even greater community impact—has unfortunately been turned into something about politics.This is entirely untrue. This development should sadden us all greatly.

Handel, with an expert turn of word, moves to recast the characters in this ongoing saga that is helping to set the stage for a showdown over women’s choice in the 2012 election.

Handel is well-documented as a leader in pushing for Komen defunding of Planned Parenthood. According to internal e-mails obtained by the Huffington Post, Handel was constantly hyping the threat of a right-wing backlash against the breast cancer foundation for their grant to Planned Parenthood, even though—at best—those threats were sporadic and low level. The Komen funding to Planned Parenthood was restricted and could be used only for breast cancer screening in the clinics. Since most women who can afford to do that screening at their private doctor’s office, this policy by definition disproportionately affects low-income and young women.

Handel won her crusade to score political points and impose her radical ideology on the organization, and certainly Nancy Brinker deserves blame both for allowing this to happen and for lying about it later on Andrea Mitchell’s show on MSNBC, when she claimed that Handel had no part in the decision. What Handel failed to do, despite her obvious PR prowess, was prepare her sponsoring organization to withstand the ensuing maelstrom. Her letter today—both in the content and her choice to release it—shows that helping Komen through this tough time might not have been her first priority.

Handel has a long-established political trajectory. She was the deputy chief of staff for Marilyn Quayle when her husband, Dan, served as vice president under George H.W. Bush, and she became the deputy chief of staff for Georgia Governor Sonny Purdue, after she opportunistically switched parties to run as a Republican in 1998. Karen Handel went on to hold political office herself as George’s secretary of state, where she enacted regressive voter ID laws that inspired lawsuits from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and from the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF). She resigned from this post to run for governor of Georgia in 2010 in a bitterly fought contest that earned her endorsements from choice flip-flopper Mitt Romney and the staunchly anti-choice Sarah Palin. She lost to Congressman Nathan Deal, who used her earlier affiliation with the Log Cabin Republicans against her. When he did, she denied ever being a member, a claim that caused PolitiFact to give her a “pants on fire” rating. She then went to Komen, presumably to regroup and plan next steps.

The last paragraph of her letter includes the following line:

While I appreciate your raising a possible severance package, I respectfully decline.

Severance packages routinely come with gag orders—stipulations on what the person leaving the organization can and cannot say about the conditions under which they left. While no one outside of Komen, Handel and their lawyers are privy to the conditions under which this offer was made, if the norm prevails, accepting it would prevent Handel from leveraging her new role as the darling of the culture war crowd. This entire subtext of the letter screams that Handel feels sacrificed at the altar of political correctness, but that she refused to sacrifice her own integrity in the process. In an election year already about bishops and birth control, being a spokesperson for the radical anti-woman, anti-choice, anti-equality movement probably plays more to her political nature than going quietly into the night.

The way that this entire saga unfolded points to the work of a political master. While I have no love lost for the Susan G. Komen foundation, if I were their board, I would be angry and sheepish about having my organization used as a political stepping stone and then left as collateral damage for an ambitious self-serving culture crusader. Make no mistake: we’ve not heard the last of Karen Handel. And when she surfaces to tell her story, people should remember: she’s not the victim, she’s a sophisticated political operator who may have gotten exactly what she wants.

© 2012, agentleman.

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Capitalism Doesn’t Work Here Anymore!

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By Les Leopold

6 Shocking Ways Capitalism Is Failing Working America

Without a dramatic rethink, our “free-enterprise” system may never again provide enough decent jobs for those who need them.

Capitalism is coming apart at the seams and the middle-class is paying the price. This week’s news alone bombards us with examples of how, absent a dramatic rethink, our “free-enterprise” system may never again provide enough decent jobs for those who need and want them.

1. iSlavery

Apple is arguably the world’s most successful company. Yet most of the 700,000 jobs needed to produce its cherished products are located abroad, especially in China. Why doesn’t Apple manufacture in the United States? Charles Duhigg and Keith Bradsher writing for the New York Times reveal that Apple is looking for a cheap, “flexible” workforce that can be put to work whenever and wherever it is needed on the company’s terms.

One chilling example concerns the manufacture of glass screens for the iPhone to replace plastic screens which are easily scratched. With only weeks to go before the phone’s release in 2007, the late Steve Jobs demanded a switch to glass. But to get that done on time required deploying the pliable workforce of the giant Chinese manufacturing firm, Foxconn:

“They could hire 3,000 people overnight,” said Jennifer Rigoni, who was Apple’s worldwide supply demand manager until 2010, but declined to discuss specifics of her work. “What U.S. plant can find 3,000 people overnight and convince them to live in dorms?”

In mid-2007, after a month of experimentation, Apple’s engineers finally perfected a method for cutting strengthened glass so it could be used in the iPhone’s screen. The first truckloads of cut glass arrived at Foxconn City in the dead of night, according to the former Apple executive. That’s when managers woke thousands of workers, who crawled into their uniforms — white and black shirts for men, red for women — and quickly lined up to assemble, by hand, the phones. Within three months, Apple had sold one million iPhones. Since then, Foxconn has assembled over 200 million more.

Little wonder that Apple just announced that it doubled its already enormous profits over the Christmas holidays. Like the Pharaohs of old, it’s always paid to build great things on the backs of slave labor.

2. The Bain of Our Middle-Class Existence

A day doesn’t go by without suffering through another Mitt Romney defense of his career at Bain Capital, his highly profitable leveraged buy-out firm. Mitt repeatedly tells us that Bain created tens of thousands of jobs at Staples, Domino’s Pizza, Sealy, Brookstone, Sports Authority, Burger King, Burlington Coat Factory, Dunkin’ Donuts, and Toys ‘R’ Us.

For a moment let’s put aside the fact that Bain also drove a large number of companies into bankruptcy while loading them up with debt and extracting enormous profits along the way. Instead, let’s focus on the type of jobs that Staples, Domino’s et al. produce for the American middle-class. While these jobs are not as slavish as those sought after by Apple in China, most Bain companies pay so little and have so few benefits that it is impossible to support a middle-class existence from the jobs they create.

Since Romney likes to brag about Staples, we took a closer look at its average hourly pay (as reported on Glassdoor.com). Out of 61 job classifications listed, only three provide starting salaries of $20 or more per hour. The vast majority of those 61 jobs categories have pay scales that begin at $7 and $8 per hour and scale up over time to $13 or $14 an hour. I’d like to see Mitt raise his dog on that.

But wait! There really is some fairness in our economy when it comes to taxes. If you work at Staples and somehow climb your way up to a middle-class salary, you might be paying the same tax rate as Mitt who earns $20 million a year. Then again, since Mitt paid only 13.9% on his 2010 taxes, you might even pay a little more counting all your state and local taxes. (More on how he does it below.)

3. Surprise! Federal Auditors Find Big Pay for Bailed-Out Bankers

While the middle-class suffers, top executives are raking it in yet again, even at the companies bailed out by our tax dollars. You may recall that the Obama administration demanded that executives at the top seven bailed-out firms receive no more than $500,000 a year. Congress complied by passing a law to set up a “special master” to administer the salary cap. Well, this week we discovered that the special master got mastered, according to federal auditors.

Apparently, the bailed-out companies teamed up with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and company to pressure the special master to allow salaries 10 times as high for these failed executives. “Forty-nine people received packages worth $5 million or more from 2009-2011,” according to the auditor’s report. (What the auditor failed to mention is that the law only applies to direct bailout money. It does not cover the big Wall Street firms that took trillions in hidden loans from the Federal Reserve to avoid collapse. Those top bankers earn much more than those at the seven bailed-out firms.)

So what was the excuse for busting the pay cap? Without fatter paychecks, these poor executives would…quit.

Here’s the argument one bailed-out company used to claim a “hardship” exemption so the employee could receive at least $1 million in cash: “This individual is in their early 40s, with two kids in private school, who is now considered cash-poor.” Such people “would not meet their monthly expenses” if the $500,000 a year cap were applied to him. Ouch!

Why not let this executive walk? After all, his or her firm was a failure. It was only saved from destruction because of the generosity of the taxpayer. Where’s that executive going to go anyway, and couldn’t a suitable replacement be found at $500,000 a year?

Just count all the alleged “laws of capitalism” that are broken in this example: 1) the original bailout instead of bankruptcy; 2) the irreplaceable executive in an economy with massive layoffs even in the financial sector; and 3) a financial wage scale having no connection to real value produced (especially since the firm produced negative value and needed to be bailed out).

So while the Apple workers in China get up in the middle of the night from their company dorms to assemble phones, and while Staples workers try to live on $8 an hour, we the taxpayers are supporting financial executives who can’t make ends meet on $500,000 a year?

4. Economically Addicted to War

The news is hot this week with military strife. Iraq is drifting back to civil war. Afghanistan is already there. Iran is threatening to close the Straits of Hormuz, and the New York City police got nabbed using an anti-American Muslim training film on 1,400 of its officers. What does this all add up to? Spending trillions on the military and then asking the middle-lass to tighten its belt to make up for deficits.

Since W.W.II pulled the U.S. out of the Great Depression, massive military expenditures have been used repeatedly to keep the economy near full-employment. During the Cold War, these expenditures contributed mightily to a new form of state capitalism where public funds were used to subsidize private corporations which supplied the military. Along the way, this process also helped prop up the middle-class in defense industry jobs.

But over the last decade this military Keynesianism got a new wrinkle. The U.S. went to war without paying for it, thereby racking up nearly a trillion dollars in new debt. At the same time an enormous tax cut was handed over to the super-rich which proceeded to spend a good deal of it in the Wall Street casino which then crashed. In total, the unfunded wars, the tax cuts and the economic crash account for the entire deficit problem. Let me repeat, there would be no deficit at all were it not for the Bush tax cuts, the two unfunded wars and the Wall Street crash.

Nevertheless the middle-class must pay. We are told that the real problem is “entitlements,” including public support for healthcare, education, unemployment benefits and Social Security. Therefore we must cut, cut, cut, to pay for military adventurism and the lifestyles of our financial oligarchs.

5. Mitt Slithers Through the “Carried Interest” Loophole

Of course, one of the big news items of the week was Mitt’s tax returns, which revealed that he paid only 13.9 percent in federal taxes instead of the 30-plus percent high-income earners are supposed to pay. Like Warren Buffett, Mr. Romney probably pays a lower tax rate than his secretary at Bain Capital. How does he get away with that?

It’s not just that he has a legion of tax sharpies who know how to hide his money in secret Swiss accounts and in the Grand Cayman Islands. The real culprit is a gigantic tax loophole called “carried interest” that allows private equity moguls and hedge fund honchos to essentially lie about what they do for a living.

You will hear Mitt wax euphoric about how hard he worked at Bain to obtain his riches. What he doesn’t tell you is that he used the carried interest loophole to hide all that hard work from federal taxes. Instead of paying himself an income for the real work he performed (which would be taxed at 35 percent), he hid his income within a slice of the profits so that he could claim it as capital gains (which is taxed at 15 percent). If he worked at a big bank doing exactly the same kind of work and got big stock options as his bonus, he would have to pay 35 percent. But thanks to the largess of Congress, he and billionaires in the private equity and hedge fund rackets pay only 15 percent. And of course, every effort to remove this loophole has been stalled by both Democrats and Republicans in Congress.

This loophole is the poster child example of how the super-rich enhance their wealth at the expense of the rest of us. And the rest of us do indeed make up the difference either through increased taxes or decreased services.

6. How the Gringrich/Freddie Tryst Distorts History

This week also treated us with the release of Newt’s $600,000 a year consulting contract with Freddie Mac. Did he get paid for influence-peddling or for his prescient historical insights? Who cares? As sordid as his deal may have been, the real damage comes from the analysis of the financial crash that accompanies the story. We hear again and again by all, including the media, that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two troubled government housing agencies, caused the financial meltdown.

Not true!

Let’s start with some basic facts about these corporations. They are not government agencies. They are private corporations that have the implicit backing of the government to help provide a massive mortgage market for middle-class Americans (or they were before the crash). The big mistake was allowing these agencies to become for-profit organizations in the first place. But that’s another story.

The widely repeated erroneous analysis claims that Fannie and Freddie caused the crash by underwriting risky housing mortgages. Ron Paul, in particular, blames the Community Reinvestment Act for pushing Fannie and Freddie to buy up “risky” loans that enable underserved minorities in particular to obtain mortgages.

But Paul, who should know better, has it dead wrong. CRA mortgages were standard mortgages and not risky ones. Their default rates are just like other standard mortgages given to Anglo home buyers. CRA, in short, had absolutely nothing to do with Wall Street’s reckless gambling as big banks and hedge funds bought up risky mortgages and sold them in even riskier mortgage-related securities.

Fannie and Freddie also wanted in on that enormously profitable Wall Street derivative game. But they got there very, very late just as the crisis was starting to unfold. These flawed private/government backed agencies didn’t cause what already was fully developed. Instead they were left holding the bag. You can’t blame them for the mess that Wall Street already created.

Who suffers? The middle-class homeowner who is already underwater due to the housing crash, and those who will purchase homes in the future. The drumbeat of attacks on Freddie and Fanny will surely lead to the privatization of those functions, which in turn will drive up the costs of mortgages for the rest of us.

How do we put America back to work?

These recent examples demonstrate yet again that “free-enterprise” on its own can not create enough middle-class jobs. Neither Apple, nor Bain-Staples, nor Wall Street, nor deficit reduction will get us there. By the way, neither will small business.

We need to recognize that modern financialized capitalism is deeply flawed. Without enormous government support, it cannot function. Without enormous government support, there will be no sizable middle-class.

The solution is both simple and difficult for us to accept. We need to use public money to create jobs and decent wages doing the things that need doing!

  • We need more education? Then make higher education virtually free as we did at the end of W.W.II.
  • We need alternative energy? Then use government funds to perfect the technology as we did with the Manhattan Project to build the A-bomb, and as we did with NASA’s moon shot.
  • We need to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure? Then hire a million workers to do it as we did during the Great Depression.

How do we pay for it? By now that should be conceptually easy: Wall Street should pay for the damage it has done. (A financial transaction tax would be a good first step.) And while we’re at it, get rid of the carried interest loophole so that Romney and the rest of his gang pay the same rates as the rest of us.

© 2012, agentleman.

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February 7th, 2012 at 12:47 pm

Breaking News: Handel Quits!

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BREAKING: Anti-Choice Komen VP Karen Handel Resigns, Admits Role In Planned Parenthood DecisionBy Marie Diamond

 

Today, Karen Handel, Susan G. Komen for the Cure’s controversial Senior Vice President of Public Policy,resigned in protest of the organization’s decision to consider reinstating funding for cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood health centers.

Handel has been at the center of the firestorm surrounding the organization’s unpopular decision to sever ties with Planned Parenthood — a decision that wasreversed just a few days later following a massive backlash from supporters and its own employees.

In her resignation letter, Handel openly acknowledges her integral role in formulating the policy designed to cut off Planned Parenthood funding. Just a few days ago, Komen founder and president Nancy Brinker claimed, “Let me just tell you for the record that Karen did not have anything to do with this decision.”

Handel does not specifically defend the rules she pushed through, but decries the charity’s decision to reverse course, arguing that the proper procedure was followed:

We can all agree that this is a challenging and deeply unsettling situation for all involved in the fight against breast cancer. However, Komen’s decision to change its granting strategy and exit the controversy surrounding Planned Parenthood and its grants was fully vetted by every appropriate level within the organization.

At the November Board meeting, the Board received a detailed review of the new model and related criteria. As you will recall, the Board specifically discussed various issues, including the need to protect our mission by ensuring we were not distracted or negatively affected by any other organization’s real or perceived challenges. No objections were made to moving forward.

I am deeply disappointed by the gross mischaracterizations of the strategy, its rationale, and my involvement in it. I openly acknowledge my role in the matter and continue to believe our decision was the best one for Komen’s future and the women we serve. However, the decision to update our granting model was made before I joined Komen, and the controversy related to Planned Parenthood has long been a concern to the organization.

Neither the decision nor the changes themselves were based on anyone’s political beliefs or ideology. Rather, both were based on Komen’s mission and how to better serve women, as well as a realization of the need to distance Komen from controversy.

The idea that Komen wanted to stop funding cancer screenings for poor women to distance itself from controversy is particularly ironic, given that their decision accomplished just the opposite. The organization’s popularity has plummeted and they are already struggling to lure back donors.

Handel not only has a long anti-choice history, but pledged to eliminate grants for Planned Parenthood to provide breast and cervical cancer screenings when she ran for governor of Georgia in 2010.

In the letter, Handel declines any severance package, which will allow her to speak openly about her differences with Komen.

© 2012, agentleman.

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February 7th, 2012 at 11:42 am

LA School Elementary: Pedophiles Abound?

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LOS ANGELES — The entire staff at an elementary school where two teachers were arrested on suspicion of lewd conduct will be removed while the school district investigates, the Los Angeles school superintendent said Monday night.

Superintendent John Deasy told parents and media that 88 teachers and 40 support staff at Miramonte Elementary School are being replaced because a full investigation of allegations is disruptive and staffers will require support to get through the scandal.

An entire staff has been trained to come into Miramonte’s classrooms to take over teaching for the time being, and there will be a psychiatric social worker in every classroom to help students and staff cope with any issues.

“The last thing I’m worried about is a budget issue,” Deasy said. “The No. 1 thing I’m worried about is the students.”

All employees will be paid during the investigation, district spokesman Tom Waldman said. Officials didn’t know how long the investigation will take.

School officials canceled classes at the school on Tuesday and Wednesday as a cooling-off period, Waldman said. All current staff members will report to another location, where they will be interviewed, he said.

Deasy emphasized that all staff members being brought into the classroom went through a “very rigorous screening process.”

Deasy told reporters after the meeting that he was trying “to govern emotion, because that’s important.”

United Teachers Los Angeles said in a statement that union leaders and staff have met with instructors at Miramonte.

“We support a thorough, vigorous and fair investigation of all allegations,” the statement said. “It’s everyone’s responsibility to ensure that any and all allegations are thoughtfully and carefully investigated.”

Maria Jimenez, 51, said the parents of children enrolled at Miramonte are divided over the move.

“Some are in favor. Others are against it because they did this without advising us or consulting us,” she said.

The move follows the arrest of two Miramonte teachers: Mark Berndt was charged last week with committing lewd acts on 23 children; Martin Springer was arrested Friday on suspicion of fondling two girls in his classroom.

More than a quarter of the students at Miramonte were absent from school Monday while parents demanded more protection at the school, with attendance reaching just 72 percent, according to figures from the Los Angeles Unified School District.

About three dozen parents and supporters protested in front of the main doors of the school earlier Monday, some carrying a banner that read, “We the parents demand our children be protected from lewd teacher acts.”

The protest was an unusual event in the poor, overwhelmingly Latino neighborhood, where many parents and students struggle with the English language.

Many people finally gathered around former state senator-turned-lawyer Martha Escutia, who lectured them in Spanish about how to organize for the media and suggested a catchy name for their fledgling movement: Mothers of Miramonte.

As night fell, about 100 angry parents marched from the elementary school to the nearby meeting with administrators.

School police watched and sheriff’s deputies were on hand, but there was no violence.

Berndt, who worked at the school for 32 years, was charged with committing lewd acts on 23 children, ages 6 to 10, between 2005 and 2010.

The acts cited by authorities include blindfolding children and feeding them his own semen in his classroom in what children were allegedly told was a tasting game.

Berndt, 61, remains jailed on $23 million bail and could face life in prison if convicted.

Springer, 49, was arrested on suspicion of fondling two girls in his classroom. He was being held on $2 million bail.

Springer taught at Miramonte for his entire career, which started in 1986, the district said. He taught second grade.

The school board is scheduled to discuss firing him in a closed-door meeting Tuesday.

Investigators said they know of no connection between the Miramonte cases. Berndt and Springer know each other and took their classes on at least two joint field trips in the past decade, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The district set up a toll-free hotline on Monday to receive reports of suspected abuse at Miramonte, said school board President Monica Garcia in a statement.

Garcia added that the district would step up efforts to ensure students and staff realized the importance of reporting misconduct.

In the same school district, a janitor at a San Fernando Valley elementary school was arrested on suspicion of committing a lewd act with a child on a campus.

Paul Adame, 37, was taken into custody after a mother told police on Sunday that he had inappropriate contact with her child during school hours Friday at Germain Elementary School in the Chatsworth area north of Los Angeles, police Capt. Kris Pitcher said at a news conference.

The captain declined to provide details but urged anyone who might know of other possible victims to contact police.

Adame was booked and released on $100,000 bail Monday. It could not be immediately determined if he had an attorney.

There was no immediate connection between the arrest of the janitor and the cases at Miramonte, which is 15 miles away in an unincorporated county area of South Los Angeles.

© 2012, agentleman.

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February 7th, 2012 at 9:55 am

Romney: I Don’t Give A Flying Falafel About The Poor!

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Romney Isn’t Concerned By 

If you’re an American down on your luck, Mitt Romney has a message for you: He doesn’t feel your pain. Earlier this week, Mr. Romney told a startled CNN interviewer, “I’m not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there.”

Faced with criticism, the candidate has claimed that he didn’t mean what he seemed to mean, and that his words were taken out of context. But he quite clearly did mean what he said. And the more context you give to his statement, the worse it gets.

First of all, just a few days ago, Mr. Romney was denying that the very programs he now says take care of the poor actually provide any significant help. On Jan. 22, he asserted that safety-net programs — yes, he specifically used that term — have “massive overhead,” and that because of the cost of a huge bureaucracy “very little of the money that’s actually needed by those that really need help, those that can’t care for themselves, actually reaches them.”

This claim, like much of what Mr. Romney says, was completely false: U.S. poverty programs have nothing like as much bureaucracy and overhead as, say, private health insurance companies. As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has documented, between 90 percent and 99 percent of the dollars allocated to safety-net programs do, in fact, reach the beneficiaries. But the dishonesty of his initial claim aside, how could a candidate declare that safety-net programs do no good and declare only 10 days later that those programs take such good care of the poor that he feels no concern for their welfare?

Also, given this whopper about how safety-net programs actually work, how credible was Mr. Romney’s assertion, after expressing his lack of concern about the poor, that if the safety net needs a repair, “I’ll fix it”?

Now, the truth is that the safety net does need repair. It provides a lot of help to the poor, but not enough. Medicaid, for example, provides essential health care to millions of unlucky citizens, children especially, but many people still fall through the cracks: among Americans with annual incomes under $25,000, more than a quarter — 28.7 percent — don’t have any kind of health insurance. And, no, they can’t make up for that lack of coverage by going to emergency rooms.

Similarly, food aid programs help a lot, but one in six Americans living below the poverty line suffers from “low food security.” This is officially defined as involving situations in which “food intake was reduced at times during the year because [households] had insufficient money or other resources for food” — in other words, hunger.

So we do need to strengthen our safety net. Mr. Romney, however, wants to make the safety net weaker instead.

Specifically, the candidate has endorsed Representative Paul Ryan’s plan for drastic cuts in federal spending — with almost two-thirds of the proposed spending cuts coming at the expense of low-income Americans. To the extent that Mr. Romney has differentiated his position from the Ryan plan, it is in the direction of even harsher cuts for the poor; his Medicaid proposal appears to involve a 40 percent reduction in financing compared with current law.

So Mr. Romney’s position seems to be that we need not worry about the poor thanks to programs that he insists, falsely, don’t actually help the needy, and which he intends, in any case, to destroy.

Still, I believe Mr. Romney when he says he isn’t concerned about the poor. What I don’t believe is his assertion that he’s equally unconcerned about the rich, who are “doing fine.” After all, if that’s what he really feels, why does he propose showering them with money?

And we’re talking about a lot of money. According to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, Mr. Romney’s tax plan would actually raise taxes on many lower-income Americans, while sharply cutting taxes at the top end. More than 80 percent of the tax cuts would go to people making more than $200,000 a year, almost half to those making more than $1 million a year, with the average member of the million-plus club getting a $145,000 tax break.

And these big tax breaks would create a big budget hole, increasing the deficit by $180 billion a year — and making those draconian cuts in safety-net programs necessary.

Which brings us back to Mr. Romney’s lack of concern. You can say this for the former Massachusetts governor and Bain Capital executive: He is opening up new frontiers in American politics. Even conservative politicians used to find it necessary to pretend that they cared about the poor. Remember “compassionate conservatism”? Mr. Romney has, however, done away with that pretense.

At this rate, we may soon have politicians who admit what has been obvious all along: that they don’t care about the middle class either, that they aren’t concerned about the lives of ordinary Americans, and never were.

© 2012, agentleman.

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February 7th, 2012 at 6:32 am

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