Politically, having a large middle class is a pain in the ass. They're too well-off to ignore, like the poor, and they're not rich enough to pay attention to, like the obscenely wealthy. There are too many of them to just give them everything they want, like you can with the wealthy.
A lords-and-serfs economy of a few pampered parasites and hundreds of millions of workers too beaten and struggling to fight back - much less vote - is much easier to control.
So maybe the apparent stupidity of congressional democrats in conniving at such an economy is not so dumb after all.
The Rude Pundit:
Poverty Isn't Just for Poor People Anymore:
The Brookings Institute released a new study on the concentration of extreme poverty neighborhoods around the nation. Such neighborhoods have poverty rates of more than 40% of the people "living" there. Existing in extreme poverty" is analogous to getting locked in a cage with horny hippos who batter you around for a while, drag you down under the shit-filled water until you nearly drown, and then rape your ass while you catch your breath, before doing it again. And again.
Surprise, surprise: Brookings found that, after a steep decline in rates of people living in extreme poverty areas in the 1990s, it rose starkly from 2000-2009. How much? After a 27.8% decline in the 90s, the number in the USA rose by 32.9% in the 00s. Huh. Wonder what was so different about those decades? Had to be something drastically different, but the Rude Pundit can't imagine. It must all be illegal Mexicans.
The number of extreme poverty neighborhoods (or "tracts," as the study says) rose by 36%. Most starkly, this affected "small-metro" areas, where the number of tracts rose by 75%, with an 81% rise in the number of people living in extreme poverty areas. The Midwest was the worst off, with the numbers doubling. And where are you fucked beyond fucked if you're dirt poor in America? Ohio, man. (By the way, don't look so smug, California. You're pretty damn fucked, too.)
Yeah, Ohio pretty much sucks hobo balls right now. Youngstown, Dayton, Toledo, Cleveland, Columbus, Akron, all have had a growth spurt in sections of towns or suburbs where people live in a blighted hellscape with shitty schools, shitty services, shitty homes, shitty crime rates, and, more than likely, tons of actual shit.
Ohio needs massive spending in order to bring its citizens back from the pit of despair. Of course, Ohio's got a Republican governor, John Kasich, who instead has advocated budget cuts and gutting collective bargaining (which will probably be overturned by ballot initiative by people in Ohio who are smarter than their former Fox "news" host governor). Read Mac McClelland's essential Mother Jones article on Ohio if you want a wrist-cuttingly stark picture of the degradation of the American dream.
Truly, truly, truly, the question everyone in this country should be asking is not why things happen like last (week's) port blockade and subsequent riot in Oakland. What they should be asking is why aren't riots occurring nonstop.
Meanwhile, dems in Congress are getting ready to eliminate Social Security and Medicare in return for a couple of meaningless tax-non-hikes on the rich.
What do you suppose would happen if the Republicans decided that forcing the Democrats to cut social security, Medicare and Medicaid (not to mention dozens of other programs)in the lead up to an important election was worth "confronting" Grover Norquist and demanding that he allow some token, temporary tax hikes or cuts in subsidies? Would he do it?
Let's see how this might work out. Weeks of haggling and back and forth about the huge, onerous tax hikes demanded by the Democrats. Slowly, they lower their requests until it's more of a symbolic thing, designed to "force the Republicans" to give in on Norquist's pledge, rather than actually raise much money. The Republicans give in, Norquist "loses" and the Democrats win, right?
Keep in mind that Grover Norquist actually has a bigger agenda than his tax pledge:"Every time you cut programs, you take away a person who has a vested interest in high taxes and you put him on the tax rolls and make him a taxpayer. A farmer on subsidies is part welfare bum, whereas a free-market farmer is a small businessman with a gun."
"My goal is to cut government in half in twenty-five years, to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub."
"We want to reduce the size of government in half as a percentage of GNP over the next 25 years. We want to reduce the number of people depending on government so there is more autonomy and more free citizens."
Would he give up his role as tax enforcer in order to make the Democrats enact the biggest and most unpopular cuts to the safety net in history? I don't know. But if you don't think it's at least possible then you don't really understand Norquist's goals.
Find your local Occupation here.