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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

GOP Strawman Falls

Political Animal Steve Benen has a worthy take-down of Roger Simon’s Politico screed, “Class warfare is not the ticket.” Benen’s post will resonate with those who have rolled their eyes at the much-parroted conservative meme that progressives actually hate the rich, not just the tax policies that reward them.
Benen’s post, well-titled “Roger Simon Gives a Straw Man Quite a Lashing,” targets Simon’s silly allegation that “Some Democrats hate the rich. Most Americans, on the other hand, would like to become the rich…. Congressional Democrats want us to hate the rich for being rich.” Benen adds:

Simon supports these observations by pointing to… nothing in particular. There are “many” congressional Democrats who consider the wealthy “swine,” but Simon doesn’t quote or mention any of them. “Some” Dems, we’re told, “hate the rich.” Which Democrats? Simon doesn’t say. I guess we’re just supposed to take his word for it.
I don’t. This kind of analysis is lazy and wrong, and Simon really ought to know better than to peddle such cliches.
There’s a meaningful debate underway over taxes, economic inequalities, and how best to generate growth, sparked in part by the disagreement over the tax policy agreement reached by the White House and congressional Republicans. I happen to think the deal, despite glaring and offensive flaws, is probably worth passing. But I also know better than to think those on the left who disagree with me are motivated by some anti-wealth spite. There’s a reasonable, persuasive progressive case against this deal; to chalk it up a Democratic desire to convince Americans to “hate the rich for being rich” is ridiculous.

Simon’s Dems-hate-the-rich cliche is a staple of Fox News, Limbaugh and other wingnut outlets and serves as a handy cheap shot, usually made by those who lack the chops to mount an articulate defense of unfair tax policies. In all my years of hanging out with Democrats, however, I’ve yet to hear even one Democratic official express a hatred for someone because they have dough, which is why Simon provides no examples, much less any opinion data. Sure there’s lots of anger about policies that promote gross income inequality, but I’ve never heard any Democrat, elected or otherwise, make it as personal as Simon suggests. It’s every bit as ridiculous as the NRA’s “Dems-want-to-take-away-our-guns” meme.
Simon’s post is undoubtedly a reflection of GOP nervousness about possible changes in the estate tax. Let them twitch and mutter, but the Senate vote on The Deal suggests conservatives don’t have much to worry about as far as ‘class warfare’ is concerned.

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