News that Stays News: Perry, Coupal Shill for Rich


It didn’t take long for Rick Perry to affirm the wisdom of Pat Robertson’s warning that the non-stop pandering to Tea Party extremists by the Republican presidential wannabes is not only shameless, but clueless too.

Hours after Rev. Pat issued his Nixon-to-China declaration that the GOP contenders should “lay off this stuff” if they are to have any hope of actually winning a general election, Perry offered the latest dimwit comment of his determined campaign to become President of the Republican Party.

“I don’t care about that,” Ranger Rick declared when it was noted that his new flat tax plan would result in a massive transfer of wealth to the, um, wealthy.

“I don’t care?” Really?

Never mind the policy stuff, and the fact that making the rich richer is surely and precisely what Perry wakes up every morning hoping to accomplish.

Purely as a matter of Political Self-Interest 101 — at a time when the 99% protests have moved the economics of wealth inequality onto the 2012 agenda; when even the minions of Karl Rove recognize the dangers of giving short shrift to “class warfare” arguments; on the very day when the Congressional Budget Office releases a report that shows the disproportionate windfall America’s richest 1% have reaped over the last three decades is even greater than we thought – why in the name of God Ronald Reagan would you not say something like, “the main effect of my tax plan will be to generate wealth for the middle class,” or “my plan is our best chance of helping those who’ve hurt by the Obama economy” or even “a rising tide lifts all boats”?

No, our manly man from Texas decides to man up without the slightest of nods to the 99% of registered voters who aren’t Steve Forbes. Next up: Rick announces he “doesn’t care” about curing cancer.

 P.S. If you’re disinclined to plow through reams of CBO-speak for the latest on the nation’s expanding wealth gap,  Talking Points Memo has performed a great public service by posting a couple of charts from the report that tell you all you need to know.

Ayn Ryan’s magical kingdom: Speaking of horse’s asses, the repulsive Paul Ryan, architect of the GOP’s effort to privatize Medicare and the MSM’s go-to “ideas” guy, did some preaching to the choir this week with a much-ballyhooed speech at the Heritage Foundation aimed at erecting an alternative reality to the world we live in, which is to say the real world, where the U.S. has morphed into a plutocracy.

Ryan, who has derived most of his oh-so-serious thoughts on economics from reading and re-reading the novels of Ayn Rand, not surprisingly was 100% wrong on one of the central points of his talk, claiming that efforts to address wealth inequality through tax policy would obstruct economic mobility in America, and turn us into one of those infernal European socialist hellholes.

 Turns out that is — not true.

There are a lot of data available on this issue, but the clearest chart comes courtesy of the Economic Mobility Project, which looked at the correlation between parent and child income in various countries. Turns out in America, you’re more likely to stay rich if born rich, and stay poor if born poor, than you are in most European countries.

For a more thoroughgoing Ryan dismantling, see the estimable Jonathan Chait’s takedown over at New York magazine’s Daily Intel, splendidly headlined “The Ideological Fantasies of Inequality Deniers.”

Ryan cannot process the realities of this world because they are so at odds with the imagined world of his ideology. After his speech, he was asked about the CBO’s report on inequality, and he brushed it off, falling back on Rand-esque lingo the virtuous rich (“takers”) and parasitic poor (“makers”):

“Let’s not focus on redistribution, let’s focus on upward mobility,” he said. “If these studies are used as justification for erecting new and more barriers for making it harder for people to rise, all that will do is reduce our prosperity in this country.”

 “We’re coming close to a tipping point in America where we might have a net majority of takers versus makers in society and that could become very dangerous if it sets in as a permanent condition”…

Don’t confuse Paul Ryan with the facts. If studies run up against Ryan’s ideology, then the studies must give way.

 Tales of the Flat Earth Society: We recently noted Theo Anderson’s memorable epigram about the impossible challenge of governing with a political party that doesn’t believe in facts — You don’t believe an idea because it’s true. It’s true because you believe it- – and, really, there’s not much to say beyond that. Still, Katrina vanden Heuvel’s latest erudite outburst on the subject is well worth reading, if only for the icy stylishness of her understated outrage. 

The contempt with which the party views reason is staggering. Republicans have become proudly and unquestionably anti-science. (It is their litmus test, though they would probably reject the science behind litmus paper.) With the exception of Jon Huntsman, who polls about as well as Darwin would in a Republican primary, the Republican presidential candidates have either denied the existence of climate change, denied that it has been caused — and can be reversed — by man, or apologized for once holding a different view. They have come to this conclusion not because the science is inconclusive, but because they believe, as a matter of principle, that scientific evidence is no evidence at all.

 Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised. After all, this kind of behavior is constantly rewarded by the media. As Al Gore noted in “An Inconvenient Truth,” while fewer than 1 percent of peer-reviewed scientific journals questioned the reality of man-made global warming, about half of all journalistic accounts did. In an age where media is obsessed with balance, facts are sidelined in favor of dueling opinions and false equivalence. That one is based on reason and science, the other on neither, is treated as entirely irrelevant. It’s a system ripe for exploitation, and conservatives are happy to oblige.

And now, for a dissenting view in the interest of journalistic balance, Rick Perry explains why states should have the right to adopt their own versions of the godless liberal Periodic Table of the Elements .

 Speaking of magical thinkers: The Prop. 13 Amen Corner suffered a sudden and severe outbreak of exploding heads this week, after Bloomberg News had the audacity and gall to point out some of the real world effects Howard’s Holy Grail has had on California.

 California voters approved Proposition 13 to rein in property taxes that had doubled in 10 years. More than three decades later, that rebellion has mortgaged the state’s future, saddling it with the nation’s highest debt and lowest credit rating.

 The measure led to reductions that dropped per-student school spending from seventh to 29th nationally, prompted cities to pursue sprawling retail development to compensate for lost revenue, and pushed the state into budget gridlock, including a $705 million revenue shortfall announced Oct. 10, by requiring two-thirds approval for any tax increase.

 “Proposition 13 set up an unfair and dysfunctional two- tiered system of property taxes,” said Kevin Starr, a history professor at the University of Southern California and the author of a series of books on the state. “It choked off a source of revenue, and the lack of that revenue has brought California to the edge.”

Which swiftly led maniacally raving Jarvis acolyte Jon Coupal to uncork a frenzied, incoherent rant against the heretic Palmeri:

Halloween is almost here and like a hoard of ravenous zombies, the politicians, the bureaucrats and government employee union bosses shamble along groaning “more, more” — more taxpayer dollars that is. They are accompanied by ghoulish cadre of minions including the occasional academic from a taxpayer supported institution and a handful of left-wing think tanks, followed by a gaggle of columnists and reporters who long ago abandoned objectivity when writing about Proposition 13.

Coupal didn’t pause for breath long enough to cite any actual facts to counter the Bloomberg argument on behalf of amending Prop. 13 with a split roll assessment plan, the better to make his corporate pals pay their share, but relied instead on such weasel wording as: “when taken as a class, business properties have been assessed at closer to market value than residential properties.” Huh?

Here’s the bottom line: The most comprehensive study of the differential effect of Prop. 13 on commercial and residential property, and of the corporate scams that have enabled this massive shift of tax burden, is a county-by-county analysis of data from the Board of Equalization and assessors around the state, researched and published by the California Tax Reform Association:

 And those numbers show that in 55 of 58 California’s counties, there has been a significant shift in the proportion of local property taxes paid over the past 30+ years, to the substantial detriment of those single family homeowners whom Prop. 13 absolutists just love to demagogue are the biggest beneficiaries of their iconic tax cut.

Their study is clear, nailed down and unrefuted. End of story.

 Golden State ATM: We leave you with Tom Meyer’s latest meditation on California’s singular role in presidential politics, coupled with a Little Pulitzer honorable mention for public service award to Chase Davis of California Watch, who reported out the fundraising hauls from the state by the GOP presidentials, so we didn’t have to.

subscribe to comments RSS

There is one comment for this post

  1. avatar chrisfinnie says:

    Points to Perry for honesty, even if unintentional. He doesn’t care. None of them do. Most are just wise enough not to say so.

    I don’t even think most believe the Ayn Rand crap. Ryan might. But, for the rest, it’s just a convenient talking point.

    Republicans do believe one fact: if all the Republican elected officials/candidates and all the talking heads on Faux Noise repeat often enough that lower taxes and less regulation will create prosperity and jobs, there are enough dumb voters who will believe it to get them elected. Frank Luntz taught them that. And they all believe Uncle Frank because it works.

Please, feel free to post your own comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.