Gin and Tacos asks and answers:
Even among the unpopular solutions, why would they propose something like Medicare cuts – let’s be honest, even the GOP knows this is political suicide – before tax increases, defense spending cuts, and so on?
The answer is pretty obvious: because when the chips are down, they will stab you in the back at the drop of the hat. They don’t care about you, regardless of party. You are not important. They would rather try to ram Medicare reform down your throat than to bite the Pentagon and Wall Street hands that feed them or raise taxes on their own income bracket. The choice between cutting Social Security and lifting the payroll tax cap (without which Social Security would be solvent in perpetuity) is no choice at all. The default solution is always, always to throw you under the bus.
Here’s the thing though: in most cases, Very Serious People don’t benefit much from fucking over the poor and middle-class. Some of them get wingnut welfare gigs for serving as mouth-pieces for David Koch, but most don’t. Increasing the highest marginal rate by 4 percent isn’t going to put David Von Drehle in the poor house. Fiscal austerity is bad for the economy and that doesn’t help Fred Hiatt’s 401K anymore than it helps anyone else’s. What’s really in it for billionaire Pete Peterson to end Social Security? Why is he doing it? How much better can he eat? What could he buy that he can’t already afford? (The future, Mr. Gittes?)
Part of it might be that everything is relative, that it’s not enough for the rich to prosper, they must also be allowed to watch the middle-class starve. It might be that there’s a powerful Village omerta at work, that Richard Cohen would rather live with declining pageview and investments than rat out his cohorts. Or maybe they honestly believe that destroying the middle-class is the right thing to do — they don’t want to do it, they feel they owe it to us.
We already knew that David Brooks cares more about comity among elites than safety and health among the general population. But I didn’t know until this day that he thought that World War I — which killed a particularly high proportion of English elites — was a big bipartisan success. Maybe it too was the right thing to do.
I’ve said before that fiscal austerity is the new Iraq War, unsupported by facts and data, but unquestionably a worthy, morally serious undertaking that only a hippie could oppose. Maybe that’s wrong, maybe fiscal austerity is the new World War I.
Speaking the truth about austerity isn’t “class warfare”, it’s a battle against the kind of insanity that destroys civilization and benefits no one.