Thursday, December 22, 2016

December 22, 2016--Liberals Need to Fess Up

If we progressives are to rescue our political souls we need to begin by doing some fessing up.

I'll begin and then maybe you will consider doing the same.

Since 1981, Ronald Reagan's first year as president, most liberals have been big beneficiaries of conservative fiscal policy. Especially tax policy.

Though publicly rueing the dramatic cuts he and Congress pushed through, privately and unconfessedly we have done very well.

The Reagan tax cuts followed years later by the Bush tax cuts (re-upped by Barack Obama) were of benefit primality to upper-middle-income people. Not just the top 1-percent but most who were just upper-middle-class. Millions and millions of Americans with advanced education comfortably slotted into the professional, knowledge-working sectors of the economy.

People like me.

These are approximate numbers that reveal how I have fared thanks to Reagan, Bush, and even Obama--

Since 2001 when the Bush cuts took effect, Rona and I have paid at least $5,000 less a year in taxes. Over the course of these 15 years this totals $75,000.

Not bad, not bad at all.

This savings funds a lot of our lifestyle since it is discretionary income.

And the good times for us in this regard, with Donald Trump about to become president, look as if they will continue to roll. Maybe even accelerate. The stock market is so happy that the Dow is about to top 20,000 and our portfolio of stocks in only six weeks, thanks to the Trump Rally, has gone up more than 6-percent.

No bad, not bad at all.

All the time this has been happening, I have moaned and ranted here and among equally-privledged friends about the unfairness of the economic system, focusing my outrage primarily on how, as the result of right-wing fiscal policy, inequality has grown worse.

While all the time I and we have been thriving, millions are being left behind.

This looks and feels like hypocrisy to me.

And among the hypocrites you will find me.

Then, what else has been going on?

Again, since Reagan's time, white working-class and lower-middle-class Democrats have been drifting rightward. When the media noticed this phenomenon, they called these voters "Reagan Democrats," and a few weeks ago these same Democrats became "Trump Democrats," and their votes are propelling him to the White House.

All the while, what have many of us liberals been up to? Trying to enjoy ourselves, leaving the social policy agenda to Republican conservatives who have delivered more to us than the people whom they claim they represent.

I don't know about you, but I haven't noticed myself sending an additional $5,000 "equity" check to the IRS every April 15th with my tax returns.

Instead, at that time, I'm typically planning my next vacation in Maine and trip to Italy.

If we don't begin by taking an honest look at our own lives we will have no chance of overtaking the political forces at work. We used to be the party of "the working man." Now we are the party of self-indulgence and condescension.

More about that tomorrow.

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