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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press Charles Lane Is Confused About the Republican Agenda

Charles Lane Is Confused About the Republican Agenda

Tuesday, 10 December 2013 05:06

Washington Post columnist Charles Lane argues that President Obama's newly proclaimed focus on inequality is misplaced, saying that it is not likely to be a popular agenda. He concludes by noting some polling results and then commenting:

"Create jobs, slash debt, then worry about equality. Isn’t that the Republican pitch?"

Actually this is not at all the Republican pitch. The Republican pitch is to reduce taxes for rich people and corporations. It also calls for reducing regulations that prevent corporations from taking property from or harming individuals. For example, they are opposed to requiring oil and gas companies to disclose the chemicals they use in fracking so that nearby residents would be able to hold companies accountable if these chemicals contaminated their land and water.

As a vast body of research shows, the best way to create jobs in the current economy is to have the government spend money in areas that create jobs, like teaching, health care, or improving infrastructure. While job creation would strengthen the labor market and reduce inequality by increasing wages for those at the middle and bottom of the distribution, the Republicans are completely opposed to this agenda. They have demanded cuts in spending that slow growth and reduce employment. Also, the Republicans never worry about equality.


Comments (6)Add Comment
FDR Obama Has a Fireside Chat About Inequality Among the Folks
written by Last Mover, December 10, 2013 6:09
Obama acknowledged that his crusade against inequality must account for the fact that Americans “admire folks who start new businesses, create jobs and invent the products that enrich our lives. And we expect them to be rewarded handsomely for it.” This is less true in Europe.

Europeans consider health insurance and income support obvious roles for government, whereas the U.S. welfare state emphasizes “earned” benefits, such as Social Security and Medicare in retirement, health insurance linked to a job, or aid to veterans.

The very aspect of Obamacare that made it such a no-brainer for liberal Democrats — health care for all, whether or not you “earn” it — turns out to be one of its political weaknesses.


Americans admire folks who start businesses, create jobs and invent the latest technology that enrich American lives, under the political sham of "making" them as postive-sum added value to the economy, rather than exploiting them by "folks" who take them from other Americans who could have made much more of all of them under legitimate free market competition with a level playing field.

Where European countries have proven time and again that government provides health care and income support far more efficiently than the private sector ever has, America rejects this as outright communism and replaces it with flat out "earned" benefits provided by those stalwart entities so famous in the free market private sector like Social Security, Medicare and the Veterans Administration.

The tipping point that uncovered and revealed the hidden stench of socialism in America was of course, Obamacare,
slouching towards Europe in all its shame. For the first time in ages insurance companies were required to provide actual insurance and compete to do it as well.

It's time for a New Deal America, and I, FDR Obama am here to bring it to you ... six years too late.
Wrong ....
written by Squeezed Turnip, December 10, 2013 7:57
Also, the Republicans never worry about equality.

Wrong. They worry about it and fight against it constantly.
written by Alex Bollinger, December 10, 2013 8:57
I don't know how anyone who has observed American politics for the last few years could say that Republicans want to create jobs, slash spending, or increase equality.

But apparently there's 1 person in a country of 300+ million deluded enough to believe that and say it publicly, and the WaPo found him and gave him a column. Yeah, I'm so worried about the end of print journalism.
written by Kat, December 10, 2013 11:19
I think he is confused about the Democratic agenda too. It could be that he believes campaigning is the same as governing in much the same way that he (and other beltway reporters) believe endless coverage of elections is the same as coverage of what government actually does.
Actually, the Republicans do worry about equality in a way
written by Mark Brucker, December 10, 2013 2:43
They want to make sure to minimize it! They do worry about proposals like raising the minimum wage, taxing the rich and corporations, having more robust regulation of the financial industry, strengthening Social Security. They even oppose making health care more effective and efficient.
written by urban legend, December 10, 2013 3:21
Maybe we can get the stupid Charles Lanes and other brain-dead DC journalists to shut up by re-framing the issue: stop talking about "reducing inequality," or even complaining about "inequality," and focus simply on putting Americans back to work -- full employment, full employment, full employment -- and following policies that will help them raise their wages.

Since we acknowledge some level of it is inevitable and perhaps necessary, as Obama did, complaining about inequality has a whiny quality to it. It's not inequality per se that is the problem, it's the 1% taking all the benefits of higher productivity that results in stagnant incomes for most Americans. Let's follow policies that make it possible for all Americans to help themselves, including a higher minimum wage and allowing Americans to participate in setting their own share of the revenue they generate with their work. If ordinary Americans are empowered, a more appropriate level of inequality will be found automatically.

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About Beat the Press

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, his latest being The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. Read more about Dean.