Mitt Romney seems to be taking a leaf from the book of the last Republican administration in the White House, forging ahead in a belief system despite all evidence to the contrary.
Income inequality is emerging as one of the most shameful issues in America today- the ability of one generation to fare better than its parents is all but lost save for a small percentage of Americans, and pockets of unrest in the form of Tea Parties and Occupy protests have begun to sprout across the US in recent years as taxpayers begin to realize how truly bad things have gotten. When I was a lass of twenty and living abroad, it was a foregone conclusion if I married, my spouse would jump at the chance to live in the then-still-prosperous States. In a scant twelve years this circumstance has evaporated, and America no longer seems a wise choice for the ambitious to work hard and get ahead. (Sure, older folks could point to other periods of financial downturn, but it is also kind of unspoken that this bout of economic distress is different.)
To be sure, the last decade has been marked by massive gains for the very wealthiest Americans and massive losses for the rest of us. To say otherwise is to deny the existence of math, and America is now 10th in the world in social mobility- or as Bill Maher pointed out last night on his show, if you’re interested in the American dream, try Norway. But Mitt Romney and his ilk believe you are stupid enough to buy the line that income inequality is a result of envy, jealous peasants seething because they didn’t have springy enough bootstraps. Romney, whose Bain Capital would buy out struggling companies, lay off their workforces, hire back workers at a fraction of their former salary and call it “creating jobs.”
Indeed, who would Jesus buy out and downsize, Mittens? The likely GOP candidate refuses to budge on the issue, and Romney was shameless when speaking to Matt Lauer earlier this week on the issue of income inequality in the US. When pressed by Lauer, Romney advised the working schlubs to shut up and suck it, and to keep their inconvenient embrace of the facts to themselves:
You know, I think it’s about envy. I think it’s about class warfare. I think when you have a president encouraging the idea of dividing America based on 99 percent versus one percent, and those people who’ve been most successful will be in the one percent, you’ve opened up a wave of approach in this country which is entirely inconsistent with the concept of one nation under God…
You know I think it’s fine to talk about those things in quiet rooms and discussions about tax policy and the like. But the president has made this part of his campaign rally. Everywhere he goes we hear him talking about millionaires and billionaires and executives and Wall Street. It’s a very envy-oriented, attack-oriented approach and I think it’ll fail.
As Romney denied the existence of a problem we Americans see with our very own eyes on a daily basis, White House Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Alan Krueger was getting ready to speak at the Center for American Progress on Thursday. Krueger likened income inequality and social mobility to height- dropping knowledge about how scarily similar the family into which you are born influences not only how tall you are, but how likely you are to earn a comfortable living in America. Before you chalk success up to bootstrapping, listen to Krueger’s comments:
The chance of a person who was born to a family in the bottom 10 percent of the income distribution rising to the top 10 percent as an adult is about the same as the chance of a dad who is 5’6” tall having a son who grows up to be over 6’1” tall. It happens, but not often.
The very root causes of income inequality may be up for debate, as well as how to deal with it- but would you really like the man in the White House to just pretend it does not exist? Personally, I’m almost more apt to believe in the magical underwear.