The Nieman Watchdog site (link on right) deals in press criticism — “questions the press should ask.” And nowhere has the media (lame-stream and otherwise) fallen down more than in its coverage of the Tea Party. This post, for instance, poses the basic question about party goals — who stands to benefit if the party holds sway in congress, and whose ox is gored? Given revelations of funding from Koch brothers et al., it should be no surprise that author Martin Lobel has some bad news for Tea Party stalwarts: If they win, they lose.
Tea Party members are absolutely correct that economic policies over the last 30 years have hurt them and the rest of the shrinking middle class. The shift in income to the very wealthy has been dramatic. According to The Economic Policy Institute, 100 percent of the average income growth between 2000 and 2007 – all of it – went to the top 10 percent of the population, and 63.5 percent of the wealth is now held by just the top 5 percent.
Instead of dealing with the causes of this shift in income, Tea Party leaders have focused on cutting spending and cutting taxes. These remedies will benefit the very wealthy but not the endangered middle class. The proposals by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), considered by some to be among the more rational Tea Party ideas, would cut government spending on health care by shifting it to individuals. The point has been made repeatedly but bears restatement: Putting such a burden on ordinary citizens will cost drastically more and even be ruinous in many cases. The great majority of people have neither the economic power nor the sophistication to negotiate health care fees. Only the insurance companies will benefit by this aspect of Ryan’s budget, which was passed by the House with only four GOP members dissenting. The Ryan budget also cuts the top tax rate from 35 percent to 25 percent. That’s a decrease of almost 30 percent, a fat savings limited to the most wealthy – the extremely wealthy, that is – and one more move to end progressivity in income taxes….
It is the right-wing think tanks, funded by the very wealthy who stand to gain from cutting taxes and spending – the Kochs, the multinational corporations, Wall Street, etc. – that mold these proposals intellectually, trying to make them appear presentable, and fobbing them off to reporters. Although their proposals cannot withstand serious scrutiny, the average citizen wouldn’t know it because the news media, so lax in covering them, have become part of the problem….
The government will continue to be dysfunctional until the media explain to middle-income citizens why they are hurting so badly and what needs to be done. Real reform would simplify the tax code. It would eliminate tax expenditures that subsidize the multinational corporations’ export of jobs and profits. It would really regulate Wall Street so that the taxpayers are not on the hook for those who are “too big to fail.” It would require hedge fund operators to pay taxes on their exorbitant profits like us mere mortals. Money needs to be put into infrastructure and education so that our children will not become victims of an ideology designed by the very rich and powerful and promoted by so-called think tanks. The media need to explain that, also.