2016 presidential candidates address inequality (sort of)

Thursday, May 28, 2015   |   Posted by Jim Hightower
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At last, America's political leaders indicate that they now feel the pain of the poor and of the millions of working families slipping out of the middle class.

Congress had previously paid no attention to the ever-widening chasm between the rich and the rest of us, but it has recently emerged as a central issue for such Republican presidential contenders as Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Marco Rubio. They are publicly lamenting the wealth gap and – by gollies – proposing solutions. Alas, though, the "solution" proposed by each of them is not to provide help for those who've been knocked down, but to offer aid to the same corporate elites who've been knocking down the middle class and holding down the poor.

Specifically, their solution is to cut taxes on corporations and the rich, do away with environmental and labor protections, and cut or privatize government programs – from Head Start to Social Security – that ordinary people count on. For example, Sen. Rubio proposes to kill the food stamp program (even though the need for it is greater than ever) and redirect that money into what he calls a subsidy for low-wage workers. Does he think we have sucker-wrappers around our heads? That's not a subsidy for workers, but for low-wage employers. Why should taxpayers subsidize the poverty pay of profitable giants like McDonald's, rather than making them pay living wages and cover their own labor costs?

I guess we should count it as progress that candidates are at least having to admit that inequality is a problem, but come on – offering the same old failed, anti-government snake oil is an insult to the American people. Jeb Bush shows how vacuous their flim-flammery is by saying that, to address the ever-widening wealth and income gap, he'll "celebrate success and… cherish free enterprise." Gosh, what a comfort that'll be to America's hard-hit majority.

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