Part of the ongoing class war is the GOP’s ability to convince their voting base (the majority of whom are not wealthy, the teabaggers) that letting the Bush tax cuts expire for the wealthiest is somehow punishing those who work the hardest, that it’s tantamount to punishing Success itself. This laughable argument is fed daily to these working- and middle-class voters by millionaires / billionaires such as Rush Limbaugh, the Koch brothers, and Rupert Murdoch — just to name a few.
The facts of the matter are spelled out by Professor Miguel A. De La Torre, Iliff School of Theology in Ethics Daily:
As much as we may wish to avoid the term “class warfare,” the truth remains that a class warfare is being waged by politicians protecting the super rich – and they are winning.
This war began in 1980 when President Ronald Reagan, followed by President George H.W. Bush, occupied the White House.
Deregulation and massive tax cuts to the richest Americans were responsible for the transfer of wealth from the poorest Americans to the richest.
During the 1980s, the top 10 percent increased their family income by 16 percent and the top 5 percent increased theirs by 23 percent. The top 1 percent increased their income by 50 percent.
Meanwhile, the bottom 80 percent all lost money. The bottom 10 percent lost 15 percent of their income, from $4,113 to $3,504.
When President Bill Clinton was elected, the national deficit was at $300 billion. While he ended his term with a surplus (the first in decades), he still participated in the transfer of wealth, specifically in his “ending welfare as we know it.”
More important was his administration’s role in deregulating the banking industry, a charge led by his treasury secretary, Larry Summers, and Sen. Phil Gramm (R-Texas) in the form of the 1999 Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. The safeguards put in place to prevent another 1930s Depression were basically gutted.
Not surprisingly, nine years later, our nation begins and continues to experience the Great Recession. Aggravating the situation was a greater transfer of wealth known as the Bush tax cuts of 2001.
In spite of the budget surplus inherited, President George W. Bush’s $1.3 trillion tax cut to the richest Americans grew the deficit by $400 billion a year. Also aggravating the situation are the two seemingly never-ending wars Bush started.
By the end of Bush’s term, more than half of the tax cuts solely benefited the richest 5 percent of Americans while the middle-class received about 7 percent of the benefits.
I would guess it’s a little of both. The adage ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’ is the foundation of teaparty mentality. There’s no other way to explain how non-wealthy voters would support austerity measures on benefits and public services they use themselves, in order to pay for extending and / or increasing tax cuts for the super-rich.