by Max Brantley
Don't know about you, but my scan of morning headlines was disheartening this morning.
* LOATHING THE POOR: There's New York Times commentary on the Republican war on the poor. It is now safe — and presumably popular among voters — to talk of extracting higher taxes from the poor and disabled to protect low tax rates for the wealthy. Says the Times: "At a time when high-income households are paying their lowest share of federal taxes in decades, when corporations frequently avoid paying any tax, it is clear who should bear a larger burden and who should not." Yep, stick the poor.
* HOLDING THE DAMAGED HOSTAGE: Republican messaging is nothing if not poll-tested. So are we to conclude that Americans truly want to hold storm aid hostage to cuts in other worthy government programs? Is Bernie Sanders in ravaged Vermont the only person able to work up towering outrage about this?
* IS THIS CHINA? It is now safe for Republicans to oppose any form of clean air regulation, even that mandated by courts, as bad for business. Visit Beijing sometime and decide if an opaque atmosphere clogged with carbon emissions is good for humans and other living things.
* WORKERS RIGHTS? WHAT'S THAT?: It is strictly good politics for Republicans to flout the national labor relations law. You need only repeat the words "union bosses" enough times to insure election, even in Arkansas, where unions have no power at all and scant membership. Workers are lucky to have jobs at all and we should leave it to business to look after their interests.
In short, Republicans are intent in turning all of the U.S. into something resembling Arkansas circa 1955. Impoverished. Low-wage industries with Dickensian conditions. Dirty air. Scarce public amenities. No social safety net. But a happy group of well-fed tycoons will look down from their comfortable country club perches on medieval-style peonage. (Oh, and women's rights? Those are to be dispensed with, too.)
* ONE LAST OUTRAGE: 25 companies pay more to their chief executives than they pay in federal income taxes. I kid you not.