Dennis Myers: The two-party assault on the working class

There’s an email discussion of public affairs I participate in with my brother and some friends.

One of them recently called our attention to an essay by Nobel Prize economist Paul Krugman, who wrote in part about the recent Republican tax bill:

“But as a terrible, no good, very bad tax bill heads for a final vote, something has been added to the mix. As usual, Republicans seek to afflict the afflicted and comfort the comfortable, but they don’t treat all Americans with a given income the same.

Instead, their bill – on which we don’t have full details, but whose shape is clear – hugely privileges owners, whether of businesses or of financial assets, over those who simply work for a living. And this privileging of nonwage income isn’t an accident.

Modern Republicans exalt ‘job creators,’ that is, people who own businesses directly or indirectly via their stockholdings. Meanwhile, they show implicit contempt for mere employees.”

I didn’t particularly disagree with Krugman, but I responded to my friends with this observation:

The problem is, since the Democrats started raking huge sums of corporate money, they are the same way. It was a Democratic Congress and president that voided most state and federal usury laws. It was a Democratic Congress and president that deregulated the natural gas industry, giving the working poor higher heating bills. It was a Democratic Congress and president that approved NAFTA.

It was a Democratic Congress and president that repealed Glass-Steagall. It was a Democratic Congress and president that deregulated the airlines, resulting in massive consolidation, elimination of smaller lines and creation of a few huge lines. It was a Democratic Congress and president that deregulated trucking. Democratic legislatures around the country, including Nevada’s, joined in deregulating electricity markets.

It was a Democratic Congress that gave a Republican president a law cracking down on bankruptcy to sign.

It was a Democratic Congress and president that enacted a bill cracking down on credit card issuers – but gave the credit card corporations a year before the law took effect to do their worst (which they did). It was a Democratic Congress which sent a bailout of huge financial houses to a Republican president to sign.

Yes, the Republicans are disdainful of working people. But it’s just a matter of degree between Democrats and Republicans.

The Democrats no longer even talk about the working poor, but about the middle class. Don’t get your hopes up that the Democrats—when they win back majorities—will represent some kind of change in economic policy. You’ll just be setting yourself up for disappointment.

The real differences between the Republicans and Democrats these days are in policies other than economics.

Dennis Myers is an award-winning journalist who has reported on Nevada’s capital, government and politics for several decades. He has also served as Nevada’s chief deputy secretary of state.