Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Koch Overthrow of America - Tea party plan: Enrich the rich
By Jason T. Eastman - Tuesday, Mar. 15, 2011
The protests in Wisconsin illustrate just how quickly tea party politicians and "activists" readily abandon their ideals to undermine their political opponents and regressive agenda through any means necessary. We now see that despite popular perception, this conservative movement was never about populist interests; rather it is simply a clever public relations campaign coordinated by corporate ideologues like the Koch brothers who wanted nothing more than to further consolidate their wealth and power under the guise of a grassroots movement.
Initially, real populist groups like unions were willing to stay quiet as tea party politicians pushed through their anti-tax, deregulatory agenda. We assumed that another stimulus package would not happen, and thought anything to stimulate the economy was better than nothing. Many workers also held some remote hope that the tax breaks and regulatory relief given to corporations would be used to invest and create jobs, rather than outsource more labor overseas so CEOs could give themselves bonuses that are tucked away in offshore accounts to avoid paying even the reduced Bush tax rates they fought so hard to sustain.
However, working Americans fed up with suffering the brunt of the recession only to watch the wealthy further prosper are now waking up to the tea party master plan. We know now cutting taxes, especially those for the corporate class, was just the first phase of a larger plan. While Republicans ran on a balanced budget the last election cycle, their tax cuts for the rich actually put the federal government deeper into the red. At the same time many conservative governors, including Scott Walker in Wisconsin, squandered small budget surpluses with tax policies that overwhelmingly benefit the corporate rich.
While some politicians seem sincere in their efforts to reduce costs while protecting workers, governors like Scott Walker or New Jersey's Chris Christie are using the budget shortfall that is mostly of their party's making as a rationale for class warfare. In fact, Walker has rejected compromises with unions who offered to make economic concessions so long as workers keep their collective bargaining rights. This, along with the strategy session Governor Walker had with a prank caller pretending to be the billionaire tea party founder David Koch, shows conservatives are more intent to union bust than either balance their budgets, or put people back to work.
Since the Reagan era, public employees have accepted wages that are not competitive with the private sector in exchange for the generous benefit packages states were able to cheaply negotiate with providers because of the large size of government work forces. But now that the private sector has chipped away at the benefits of their workers, the corporate elite are trying to use their fabricated, tea party populist outrage to undo public employee's affordable access to health care and a comfortable retirement instead of using their power to secure access to doctors and dignity in later life for their employees.
After 30 years of assaults, Wisconsin workers are fighting back, and we can see the double standards of the tea party in the face of a real populist effort to protect the middle class. While the tea party spent years protesting democratic legislation like the health care bill, they now call the Wisconsin protestors trouble-makers and slobs. While they endlessly fought the democratic majorities of the last two congresses with every and any means available, tea partyers now claim elections have consequences and everyone should submit to the will of ultra-conservative governors like Scott Walker.
Wisconsin is showing America what a true populist movement looks like; and union members across the country stand poised to protect the basic rights and social contract we have spent over a century fighting, and even dying for.
The writer is with the Department of Psychology & Sociology at Coastal Carolina University.