Who says that Republican congress-critters don't care about minorities in our society? Why, at this very moment, they are pushing hard to pass a $372 billion federal program to lift the economic fortunes of just one minority group — a far more generous proposal than Barack Obama has even dared to contemplate.
The focus of the GOP's generosity is a true American minority: the richest one-tenth of one percent of our people. Living in penthouse ghettos like Manhattan's Upper East Side, this tiny minority of about 120,000 people (who have an average annual income of $8 million) would get some $3 million each over the next decade from the Republican proposal. Doesn't that just make your heart bleed with empathy?
This windfall will go to the most un-needy among us if the GOP gets Congress to renew the Bush tax cuts for the superrich. Yes, the same Republican lawmakers who have opposed even modest funding to keep schoolteachers and firefighters on the job are wailing that we should take hundreds of billions of dollars from our public treasury and hand them to some of the richest people on the planet.
What's at work here is the narcissistic psychosis of the privileged — the delusional belief that they are entitled to special treatment because they're ... well, they're rich and therefore consider themselves to be both superior and especially deserving.
This attitude was expressed in a recent letter to The New York Times by a guy with the rather foppish name of Mr. Standish Fleming. He deplored any effort to deny these special tax giveaways to the elite, declaring that such efforts "discriminate" against the minority of wealthy and "productive" members of our society, thus rending America's "social fabric of trust and respect."
Of all the crying needs in our country today, these Republicans are wringing their hands over the discrimination against the wealthy minority. Sometimes, I don't know whether to laugh or cry or go bowling!
This is one of those times.
Is it possible that these pampered ones and their congressional pamperers haven't noticed that "America's social fabric of trust and respect" has already been rended by three decades of policies knocking down the workaday majority? America is now in a Great Jobs Depression that already has lasted 10 years and continues to rage unabated across the land. This Depression has devastated our country's middle class.
Yet, it took two months and endless compromises this summer for Senate Democrats to woo a few Republican votes needed to pass even a weak and meek jobs bill to help deter mass firings of schoolteachers and firefighters by local governments. Pious, purse-lipped Republicans — who have eagerly backed Wall Street bailouts, needless wars and other budget-busting expenditures — demanded that other programs be cut as the price of saving these essential public-service jobs.
So, what program did our stalwart senators choose to loot? Food stamps!
Yes, even as millions of Americans are stuck in long-term, relentless unemployment, thus increasing the urgent need for family assistance, our well-fed, big-butted solons grabbed nearly $12 billion from the supplemental nutrition assistance program. This puts the "dumb" in dumbfounding!
Because of the economic collapse caused by the reckless greed of Wall Street bankers, there has been a 50 percent increase in the past two years in the number of Americans relying on food stamps. In the coming months, more and more people — including schoolteachers and firefighters — are going to lose their jobs, and many of them will need the helping hand that Congress has now so stupidly and callously withdrawn.
Instead of stealing funds from our country's essential food stamp program, Congress should get the money for its jobs bill by taxing the multibillion-dollar bonuses that Wall Street bankers are paying out to themselves. And if that's not enough money, cut the pay, pensions and health care freebies that congress-critters give to themselves — most of them need to go on a diet anyway.
To find out more about Jim Hightower, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at www.creators.com.
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