The Fight Against Oligarchy: “Don’t Give Up Hope On This”

Recently a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in South Dakota (unfortunately Democrat Tim Johnson is retiring), a doctor of medicine for God’s sake, posted on her Facebook page the following viral image with a typical Tea Party message:

How hilarious. A real knee-slapper.

That a doctor, who says that “God is calling her to serve a higher purpose and to fight back against an intrusive federal government,” would subscribe to such stupidity—military families are increasingly using food stamps and 83% of the money spent on the food stamp program goes to households with “a child, an elderly person or a disabled person”—says either a lot about the God she worships or about the God she wants to worship or about how evangelical Christianity mixed with Republican politics can stain the mind with a glorious Technicolor of ungodliness.

Sadly, the idea behind that viral message is shared not only by a lot of Republican candidates and politicians holding office, but a lot of average folks, some of whom benefit from government programs, like the food stamp program, and some of whom will not walk but run to a polling place in November and gladly vote for people like this doctor-candidate in South Dakota.

Why is that?

Let’s start with Thomas Piketty, whose 700-page book, “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” is all the rage. Piketty’s book, which essentially is a look at the changes in the concentration of wealth over time, has surprised a lot of people, including the venerable liberal economist Paul Krugman. Here’s what he said to Bill Moyers (I highly recommend watching or reading the entire interview):

BILL MOYERS: Inequality’s been on the table for a long time. You’ve written extensively, others have, too. I mean, it’s a familiar issue, but what explains that this book has now become a phenomenon?

PAUL KRUGMAN: Actually, a lot of what we know about inequality actually comes from him, because he’s been an invisible presence behind a lot. So when you talk about the 1 percent, you’re actually to a larger extent reflecting his prior work. But what he’s really done now is he said, “Even those of you who talk about the 1 percent, you don’t really get what’s going on. You’re living in the past. You’re living in the ’80s. You think that Gordon Gekko is the future.”

And Gordon Gekko is a bad guy, he’s a predator. But he’s a self-made predator. And right now, what we’re really talking about is we’re talking about Gordon Gekko’s son or daughter. We’re talking about inherited wealth playing an ever-growing role. So he’s telling us that we are on the road not just to a highly unequal society, but to a society of an oligarchy. A society of inherited wealth, “patrimonial capitalism.” And he does it with an enormous amount of documentation and it’s a revelation. I mean, even for someone like me, it’s a revelation.

BILL MOYERS: I was going to ask, what could– what has Paul Krugman had to learn from this book?

PAUL KRUGMAN: Even the title, the first word in the title, “capital.” We stopped talking about capital. Even people like me stopped talking about capital because we thought it was all about human capital. We thought it was all about earnings. We thought that the wealthy were people who one way or another found a way to make a lot of money.

And we knew that that wasn’t always true. We knew that in the Gilded Age or in the Belle Époque in Europe, which he prefers to talk about. That high incomes were mostly a result of having lots and lots of assets. But we sort of said, “Well, that’s not the way things work anymore.” And he says, “Oh yeah? It turns out that you’re wrong.” That’s true, that right now, a lot of high incomes in America are people who didn’t start out all that rich. But we’re rapidly moving towards a state where inherited wealth dominates. I didn’t know that. I really was– I should’ve known it. I should’ve thought about it, but I didn’t. And so then here comes this book with– I mean, it’s beautiful– absolutely analytically beautiful, if that makes any sense at all.

BILL MOYERS: As you know, I’m no economist, but I found this book, as I said in the opening, just very readable and suddenly there would be this moment of epiphany.

PAUL KRUGMAN: Yeah, it’s a real “eureka” book. You suddenly say, “Oh,
this is not– the world is not the way I saw it.” The world in fact has moved on a long way in the last 25 years and not in a direction you’re going to like because we are seeing not only great disparities in income and weakrugman on moyerslth, but we’re seeing them get entrenched. We’re seeing them become inequalities that will be transferred across generations. We are becoming very much the kind of society we imagine we’re nothing like.

BILL MOYERS: Here’s Piketty’s main point: capital tends to produce real returns of 4 to 5 percent, and economic growth is much slower. What’s the practical result of that?

PAUL KRUGMAN: What that means is that if you have a large fortune, or a family has a large fortune, they can — the inheritors of that large fortune — can live very, very well. They can live an extraordinary standard of living and still put a large fraction of the income from that fortune aside and the fortune will grow faster than the economy.

So the big dynastic fortunes tend to take an ever-growing share of total, national wealth. So once you– when you have a situation where the returns on capital are pretty high and the growth rate of the economy is not that high, you have a situation in which not only can people live well off inherited wealth, but they can actually pass on to the next generation even more, an even a higher share.

And so it’s all, in his terms, “r” the rate of return on capital, and “g” the rate of growth of the economy. And when you have a high r, low g economy [r > g], which is what we now have, then you’re talking not– you’re talking about a situation in which dynasties come increasingly to increasingly to dominate the top of the economic spectrum and a tiny fraction of the population ends up very dominant.

Not only does that “tiny fraction of the population” dominate the economic spectrum, but those same folks are dominating the media, with messages like the one spread by our Christian Republican candidate in South Dakota. Krugman says that,

…there’s a very effective apparatus of TV and print media and think tanks and so on who hammer against any suggestion of redistribution. It’s just, they’ve managed to convince a lot of people that it is somehow un-American.

Which actually, if you look at American history, that’s not all true. But they– it’s just been pushed very hard. I think also the United States, look, we have to admit, race is always lurking under almost everything in American life. And redistribution in the minds of a lot of people means taking money from people like me and giving it to people who don’t look like me…

That media “apparatus” is how a lot of people, who are either benefiting from government programs or who would benefit from an expansion of government programs, become sympathetic to that “don’t feed the humans because they’ll grow dependent on government” meme represented by that ridiculous viral image spread by a doctor who wants a seat in the U.S. Senate. Average folks are being manipulated by the moneyed class, a class of people who somehow feel oppressed:

BILL MOYERS: You wrote something the other day that’s hard to forget. You said, “We live in such an ugliness in America right now.”

PAUL KRUGMAN: Yeah. This is one of the things that puzzles me actually about my own country, which is it’s one thing to have disparities of income and wealth and to have differing views about what we should be doing about it. But there’s a level of harshness in our debates mostly coming from the people who are actually doing very well.

So, you know, we’ve had a parade of billionaires whining about being– you know, the incredible injustice that people are actually criticizing them. And then comparing anyone who criticizes them to the Nazis. You know, it’s almost a tic that they have. This is– this is very strange. And it’s kind of scary because, you know, it’s one thing if someone without a lot of power seems to be going off and into a rage for no good reason. But these are people who have a lot of influence because of the amount of money they control.

Influence. Money buys influence. It always has and, thanks to the Supreme Court, it can buy more influence than ever. Here is one definition of influence:

the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something…

That is why we find so many average people supporting candidates who perpetuate such hateful nonsense about food stamps and government dependency—and who perpetuate the myth that we all can have the American Dream, if we’ll just keep working our asses off at two or three jobs and keep our heads down and our mouths shut. These average folks are actually doing the bidding of billionaires.

Obviously, if the rich have the means and the permission to buy tons of influence and thus effect the “character, development, or behavior” of people, the very idea of democracy is undermined. If what we see going on right before our eyes continues, we are just kidding ourselves that “we the people” actually rule.

But regular readers know that I try to find hope in and for the future and refuse to say that all of this depressing stuff dooms us forever. Refreshingly, Paul Krugman does the same:

BILL MOYERS: Given what you just said and given the fact that there’s this ugliness, what do you think it’s going to take? A mass uprising? Consistent demonstrations? Insurgent politics? How are we going to stem the tide that he says is taking us into oligarchy?

PAUL KRUGMAN: There’s a negative and there’s a positive take. Piketty argues — seems to argue through much of the book that we only escaped the old oligarchy for a while thanks to really disastrous events. Thanks to wars and depressions, which disrupted the system. That’s an argument you can make.

On the other hand, if you read histories of the New Deal, you know that it didn’t come– it didn’t spring out of nowhere. That we had a progressive movement and a lot of proto New Deal programs building for quite a long time.

There was, in fact, a move in America. There was an increasing political, philosophical readiness to take on inequality of wealth and power long before FDR moved into the White House. And so, I think there are better angels of our nature. That there is this ugliness which can be frightening. But there is also a redemptive streak in — here and in other places.

And that– don’t give up hope on this. That given consistent argumentation, given events, and perhaps you know, as people become more aware of what is actually going on, then there is a chance of changing things. Do we know that? No. But there’s nothing in what we know now that says you should give up hope of being able to change this even without a catastrophe.

If it is any consolation, and I admit it isn’t much, the doctor in South Dakota who posted that ignorance-inspired message on Facebook is losing in the polls. The problem is she is losing to a Republican man who will likely be the next U.S. Senator from South Dakota, former governor Mike Rounds, who right-wingers are accusing of being a RINO on repealing the Affordable Care Act, and who said in response,

Obamacare is bad for the country and I have always opposed it.

I didn’t say it would be easy to keep hoping.

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A True Story About The War On Poverty

In the middle of a needless controversy over whether Republicans will agree to extend long-term unemployment benefits, The New York Times and USA Today and other outlets have published numerous pieces about what Lyndon Johnson, fifty years ago, called the “War on Poverty.”

Naturally, conservatives, who tend to prefer real wars over metaphorical ones, believe Johnson’s war has been a failure. I saw an outrageous segment just this morning on Fox during which the host—the fair and balanced host—essentially attacked nearly every anti-poverty program in existence while the guest, Fox-infected Democrat Bob Beckel, agreed with her way too often.

All of my adult life, including when I was a Rush Limbaugh Republican, I have heard how liberals’ attempts to make life a little better for the impoverished, to help lift them out of their poverty, have been a colossal failure. That narrative, that “the war on poverty is a failure” narrative, has been a constant thorn in my side, for reasons that will become clear. Lyndon Johnson and Tom Fletcher in Martin County, KentuckyBut there was something in the demagogic and irritatingly opportunistic video released this past weekend by Republican presidential hopeful Marco Rubio (“After 50 years isn’t it time to declare big government’s war on poverty a failure?”) that compelled me to speak out, in my own little way, against what can only be called a cynical and mean-spirited attempt to gain political points with a Tea Party constituency that apparently knows no shame.

Thus, I will tell you a story about at least one victory in the long war on poverty. It’s a true story. I know it’s a true story because I was there.

Sometime in February of 1975, I found out my girlfriend was pregnant. I was 16 at the time; she was barely 16. When I say 16, yes, I mean 16 years old. We were juniors in high school in a small town in southeast Kansas. If you remember what you were like as a junior in high school, then you know how ridiculous it is to imagine that two high school juniors should bring a child into the world, much less take care of it. My brother-in-law at the time suggested the possibility of an abortion. But abortion was the furthest thing from our young minds. We saw the whole thing as simply the natural result of our admittedly adolescent love for each other, even if that love was destined to deteriorate, before ending in divorce some fifteen years later.

Needless to say, our respective families weren’t exactly thrilled about the prospect of two teenagers from two lower-working-class homes trying to raise a child on their own. And neither of the families were in a position to help all that much, although they did what they could. Along with her two sisters, my girlfriend lived with her divorced mom, who worked as a secretary at a factory that made bib overalls. My dad, born in 1909, was on Social Security. My mom had undergone extensive back surgery by then and was unable to work full time, and she was much too young to receive Social Security benefits herself. My youngest sister was still living at home, since she was all of 10 years old.

Such was the stage on which a very adult drama played out for this new teenager-dominated family.

On that stage, part of that drama, was the federal government. I remind you that this was 1975, just before the age of Republican “government is the problem” demagoguery and stinginess. It was before Democrat Bill Clinton validated much of that demagoguery and stinginess by signing in 1996 a welfare reform bill that was dreamed up by radical “Contract with America” With ‘unbelievably bad’ food stamps proposal, U.S. Senate further criminalizes poorRepublicans led by Newt Gingrich.  For a time our new family—we were married in March of that year—received a small monthly check, as well as food stamps, the kind that came in the form of currency-looking coupons. The kind that everyone in line behind you at the grocery store knew to be government-issue. The kind that made you more than a little embarrassed to pull out and hand to the cashier, which is why my then-wife was the one who had to use them, since I didn’t have the social courage to do so.

In October of 1975 a little girl was born. And, partly thanks to the generosity of the American people, as expressed through legislation that both political parties at one time supported, she grew up healthy. And loved. She grew up to be an educator, an educator with a Master’s degree, and she teaches literature to high school kids, kids about the same age as her parents were when she was conceived. She’s a remarkable person. And she has a remarkable kid of her own. My granddaughter.

Less than a year after my daughter was born, her teenage mom went to work at a nursing home, making somewhere around $2.30 an hour, where her small frame was required to lift in and out of bed heavy senior citizens who couldn’t get in and out of bed by themselves. She hurt herself doing so, and although I can’t be sure, I believe the toll that work took on her afflicts her in some way to this day.

I continued school and worked during the summer for the local municipality, then later the county, courtesy of the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act, a 1973 anti-poverty program that was signed into law, believe it or not, by a Republican president, after being co-sponsored by both a Democratic and a Republican senator. That bill passed the Senate 88-5. It passed the House 369-31. Imagine that kind of overwhelming bipartisan agreement today on an anti-poverty bill. And imagine a Republican president saying, as President Nixon said, that “it is one of the finest pieces of legislation to come to my desk this year.”

In any case, the teenage mother in this story, who had the relative courage to stand in line with those stigmatizing food coupons in hand in order to buy food for her daughter and cowardly teenage husband, eventually earned a Master’s degree herself. The cowardly husband eventually spent 30 years in the Postal Service and, now retired, blogs as a labor of love.

And somewhere, somewhere in this great and generous country, there are politicians like Marco Rubio who are cynically conspiring to make the realization of a decent life a lot harder, perhaps impossible, for not just careless teenagers who find themselves in the situation I described above, but for others who find themselves in situations that require the community, as expressed through our we-the-people government, to extend a collective hand to those who need it.

People will continue arguing, of course, about the larger success or failure of the War on Poverty. Economist Jared Bernstein made what seems to me to be an unassailable case for its success, but that won’t stop the debate. Yet apart from economists defending its merits, or apart from right-wing pundits pronouncing the whole thing a failure, I can testify that for one small family in one small town in Kansas, that metaphorical war helped a couple of teenage parents and their daughter through some difficult times and helped make them productive and tax-paying citizens. Leaving aside the mere humanity of it, that government investment made in a couple of high school juniors in 1975 actually paid off financially.

And I suspect similar and even more dramatic testimony could be given by many more Americans, many more than Tea Party Republicans and conservatives would care to contemplate.

______________________________________

[Johnson Photo: Walter Bennett, Time]
[Food coupons: NCReedplayer/flickr]

Limbaugh-Size Hypocrisy

What can you say about such breathtaking, Rush Limbaugh-size hypocrisy?

A Tea Party-supported congressman representing some of the most conservative folks in Florida, born Henry Jude Radel III but known as “Trey,” was, in the words of USA Today,

caught buying drugs as part of a federal investigation into a Washington, D.C., drug ring last month and is being charged with cocaine possession, according to a senior Drug Enforcement Administration official.

Now, presumably because Radel is a white guy holding a once-respected office in our national government, he was not arrested at the time he was caught buying drugs. He was “detained” later at his apartment by FBI agents, who, the USA Today report made clear, “never handcuffed Radel or took him to jail.” Of course not. Why would law enforcement want to treat him like a regular dope-buyer on the streets of D.C.?

In any case, Radel’s biggest sin, one this Catholic congressman may have to explain to the Lord someday, is not the cocaine purchase. No, that’s not his main crime. Just a few months ago this phony bastard voted to force food stamp recipients to piss in cups to prove they’re not lawbreakers like him. Where do you find words to describe such blatant dishonesty?

Not that making hungry people who receive government help prove they’re not drug abusers isn’t a colossally sinful Republican policy in itself, but for that policy to receive the support of some pharisaical Tea Party congressman, who has an affection for nose candy, is a sin that Satan himself would envy.

Last summer, when Republicans were debating their welfare drug-testing policy, Democratic congressman Jim McGovern of Massachusetts proposed testing phonies like Representative Henry Jude Radel III:

Why don’t we drug test all the members of Congress here? Force everybody to go urinate in a cup or see whether or not anybody is on drugs? Maybe that will explain why some of these amendments are coming up or why some of the votes are turning out the way they are.

Yes, that might explain it. But what explains the hypocrisy?

Radel, a former talk show host like Limbaugh, has admitted he has a problem. Good for him. That’s the first step towards recovery. He said,

I struggle with the disease of alcoholism, and this led to an extremely irresponsible choice.

I hope he sees his “irresponsible choice” as not just buying blow from a dealer working with the feds, but also cruelly voting to drug-test people on food stamps. That would be his second step towards recovery.

Food And Republican Logic

While watching “Up with Chris Hayes” Sunday morning on MSNBC, a Republican guest’s comment inspired me to present the following premises and conclusion, which taken together represent the twisted logic of the right-wing and its ongoing and ridiculous, if not partly racist, claim that Mr. Obama is the Food Stamp President:

♦ The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) was formerly known as and still is popularly called the Food Stamp Program. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:

Nearly 75 percent of SNAP participants are in families with children; more than one-quarter of participants are in households with seniors or people with disabilities.

♦ A significant change in SNAP occurred in 2002, including expanding it to “make more legal immigrants eligible for benefits,” according to the Agriculture Department. And according to a right-wing opponent of the increase in food stamp benefits, the 2002 bill, “increased benefits for families with more children, adjusted benefits for inflation and made it easier to enroll.”

♦ George Bush was president in 2002 and signed the expansion into law (as part of the big 2002 farm bill), saying at the time:

This bill is also a compassionate bill. This law means that legal immigrants can now receive help and food stamps after being here for five years. It means that you can have an elderly farm worker, somebody here legally in America who’s worked hard to make a living and who falls on hard times, that person can receive help from a compassionate government.

And as for Bush’s entire tenure as president, CNN reported earlier this year:

Food stamp enrollment has been rising for more than a decade. President Bush launched a recruitment campaign, which pushed average participation up by 63% during his eight years in office.

♦ Teapartiers Paul Ryan (whose famous budget cuts SNAP by $134 billion) and Jim DeMint (who now abhors increased spending on food stamps!), along with my former congressman and now senator from Missouri, Roy Blunt, voted for the 2002 food stamp expansion. So did then-senator and Missouri Republican Kit Bond.

♦ The 2008 version of the farm bill also expanded the food stamp program, and although Mr. Bush vetoed the bill (but not because of the food stamp expansion), Republicans provided the necessary margin to override his veto. That bill, again according to that same right-wing opponent of food stamp increases,

contained more than 30 provisions relating to food stamps, including higher minimum benefits. 

Again, Roy Blunt voted for the 2008 bill that expanded the program and voted in the House to override Bush’s veto.  In the Senate, the override vote saw 35 Republican senators—including Mitch McConnell—vote to override the veto. Missouri’s Kit Bond, along with both Kansas Republican senators, voted to override, thus expanding the food stamp program.

♦ The Great Recession, which cost millions of Americans their jobs and caused many people to seek help from the food stamp program, began while George Bush was president.

♦ Just before Mr. Obama came into office in January of 2009, the GDP shrank at an annualized rate of almost 9%. Yes, you read that right: “More than any other recession since the Great Depression.”

♦ The Democrats’ 2009 stimulus bill, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), did increase eligibility and funds for SNAP because:

In light of the increased demand for services and strained State budgets, the increased ARRA funding to State agencies that administer the SNAP program enables State governments to avoid reductions in services and to meet the increasing demand from low-income families and individuals resulting from the recession.

REPUBLICAN CONCLUSION: The fact that more folks needed and continue to need food stamps because of the Great Recession is all Barack Obama’s fault and he is, therefore, the Food Stamp President.

Besides admiring the audacity of the faulty logic of Republicans, it may interest you to know that for all the talk about food stamps and the number of Americans who need them, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the average monthly benefit—I kid you not—is a whopping $133.84 (in Missouri it is $127.05).

Again, I kid you not. That tiny amount, most of it going to families with kids, is what generates all the divisive demagoguery—including Romney’s 47% nonsense—and what causes Republicans to bend the principles of logic in service to their Obama-hating agenda.

“An Unlimited White Checking Account For Underclass Blacks”

I heard Charles Krauthammer say Tuesday night that Newt Gingrich’s “performance” on Monday’s GOP-FOX (I repeat myself) debate was “sparkling.”  Yes, he actually said sparkling, as he and Bill O’Reilly got all tingly about what Newt had to say to Juan Williams, who dared to ask if Mr. Gingrich could see that his comments about blacks and food stamps and janitors might be “insulting to all Americans, but particularly to black Americans.”

What Gingrich had to say has been broadcast widely by liberal-minded folks to highlight what many of them see as at least quasi-racist appeals to the mostly pale-faced GOP crowd at the debate in a state with a history of blatant racism.

You know the drill: the poor, especially poor blacks, lack the necessary work ethic to succeed in America and it is up to hard-working white people like Newt Gingrich to devise ways to reprogram that work ethic into their otherwise lazy-loving brains.

But I want to focus on something Gingrich said on Monday night that has essentially been repeated in one form or another by other Republican presidential candidates. About extending unemployment benefits, he remarked,

It tells you everything you need to know about the difference between Barack Obama and the five of us, that we actually think work is good.

Now, forgetting for a moment all the racially-charged rhetoric about blacks and food stamps, we have in this statement a clue as to why there is so much palpable hate out there for our first black president. Mr. Obama is not just a black man living in the Whites’ House. He represents something far more than that. He symbolizes all welfare-loving blacks living in the whites’ America.

Attacking Mr. Obama in the way Gingrich did is a way of expressing the feeling a lot of whites have about black people, but are not normally free to express openly.  Under the cover of politics, though, they can, through criticism of Obama like Gingrich’s, essentially call them lazy n***ers and get away with it.  What else can Gingrich mean by suggesting that the President doesn’t “actually think work is good“?  Huh? Just what does that mean?

And why associate Mr. Obama with food stamps, as Gingrich has done (he is the “best food stamp president in history“)? What point is Gingrich really trying to make? Certainly not a policy point, since everyone knows that W. Bush’s Great Recession is the cause of an increased need for food stamps.

Additionally, eligibility rules for obtaining food stamps were relaxed twice under Bush, and in terms of proportionality, CBS News pointed out:

The percent increase in beneficiaries during Mr. Bush’s presidency was higher than it has been under Mr. Obama: The number of beneficiaries went from 17.3 million in 2001 to 28.2 million in 2008 – an increase of 63 percent in years that are mostly considered non-recessionary.

So, Mr. Gingrich’s point of connecting Mr. Obama with food stamps clearly was made for reasons other than noting policy differences. He appears to be using the President as a surrogate for all those lazy blacks who sit back and live off someone else’s work.

Newt is not alone in using this technique. Mitt Romney said the following about President Obama during the Ames, Iowa, debate in August:

He just doesn’t understand how the economy works, because he hasn’t lived in the real economy.

I think in order to create jobs, it’s helpful to have had a job. And I fundamentally believe that what we need in this country is someone who’s willing to go to work, who believes in America, who believes in free enterprise, who believes in capitalism, who believes in opportunity and freedom.  I am that person.  I love this country.

The not-so-subtle suggestion: Obama hasn’t had a job. He’s not willing to go to work. He doesn’t believe in America or free enterprise or capitalism or opportunity or freedom.

Rick Santorum has said in Iowa:

I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them other people’s money. I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn their money and provide for themselves and their families.

The “other people’s money” is “other white people’s money,” don’t you know.

The New Republic noted that a section in a Ron Paul newsletter about a then-upcoming “race war” complained the problem was,

created by welfare programs, quota systems, and government interference in just about everything we do…

The “we” in that sentence is obviously a white we.

James Kirchick wrote four years ago that in a 1992 Ron Paul Political Report “special issue” on “the Los Angeles race riots of that year,” a “typical passage” about the Los Angeles riots read:

 “Order was only restored in L.A. when it came time for the blacks to pick up their welfare checks three days after rioting began,” …It also denounced “the media” for believing that “America’s number one need is an unlimited white checking account for underclass blacks.”

You see the theme clearly: Blacks are parasites living off the government-confiscated wealth of white people, mostly white Republican people. And the rise of Mr. Obama has made it easy for uneasy whites to project their frustrations on him, a high-profile uppity figure who needs to be brought down to size.

And a mannerly Mitt Romney, who will end up with his party’s nomination, is especially good at using the “entitlement” meme, expressed much more urbanely than Gingrich could ever dream of, which can be summed up with what Romney said in New Hampshire in December:

President Obama sees America differently. He believes in an entitlement society.

That coming from a man born into wealth and privilege, who has earned millions partly by using government subsidies, and who, we will one day find out, pays an effective tax rate well below what many Americans pay because his income is of a kind not considered “ordinary” and thus deserving a special, lower rate.

Entitlement society, indeed.

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