Under President Obama, the rich have gotten richer, income inequality has gotten worse and there are more people in poverty than ever before. Under this president, his policies have not worked. Their liberal policies are good every four years for a campaign, but they don’t get the job done.
– Mitt Romney speaking at the USS Midway, San Diego
Coming from a man who dedicated his much of his life to getting rich, then rigging the economic system to help people like him get even richer, you would think Mitt Romney might have a modicum of shame when it comes to issues like wealth inequality. But alas, we are closing in on the Presidential election season and politicians are testing out new memes to see how they play with potential voters.
Wealth inequality is now so ludicrous in America that it is no longer possible to write off as liberal fear mongering. As a recent study showed, 1% of the population own roughly 50% of the world’s wealth, and in America, the top 0.1% of the population own as much as the bottom 90% – statistics so gobsmacking that it should cause every multi millionaire on the planet to lock themselves behind gated fences and hire armed security.
So Republicans have to say something about it given voters instinctively know that the system is essentially, for lack of a better word, fucked. The statistics Romney cites about wealth inequality are not wrong, but his claims to wanting to address the problem and knowing how to fix it are, quite frankly, laughable. For Mitt Romney, wealth inequality is about as important to him as Latino voting rights in SanFrancisco. To believe that the man who gave a private speech calling half of the US population parasitic leeches and derided concerns over wealth inequality as “envy”, and “class warfare” back in 2012, now wants to make society more equal is, to put it mildly, a bit of a stretch.
In Romney’s speech last week, he called conservatives to action and “finally end the scourge of poverty in this great land.” Which is great – but not achievable if Romney wants to keep all his money and make sure Republicans like him (or him) are elected to office. Because without gigantic wealth inequality, the Mitt Romneys of this world and 99.9% of the Republican Party don’t exist.
It is important to remember that the GOP is not an actual political party in any conventional understanding of the term – it is largely a PR organization with some administrative function that represents the financial interests of big business and the ultra wealthy.
Mitt Romney is a staunch advocate of the free market and has consistently run for office on a platform of cutting taxes for the rich. In 2012, he proposed cutting taxes for the wealthiest 5% of Americans while inadvertently dumping the burden on everyone else. For this, he was rewarded with over a billion dollars in donations, largely from corporations and the ultra wealthy who clearly believed Romney would provide a good return on investment.
Romney was also shameless enough to say pretty much anything to get elected, and given the almost impossible task of appealing to racist gun toting Tea Party fanatics while wooing the political center could only be done by someone with no moral conscience, he was a clear first ballot candidate.
Bearing all that in mind, it was entirely predictable that Romney would soft launch his next presidential campaign by saying something he doesn’t care about and has absolutely zero intention of following up on.
The PR agencies, image consultants, and speech writers tasked with getting a Republicans elected know that they have to adopt the language of day. If wealth inequality is in, then goddammit their guy is gonna talk about it! Just as George Bush used his ‘Clear Skies‘ initiative to help weaken existing environmental protections, you can be sure that should Mitt Romney will use the issue to ram through policies that exacerbate it should he ever become President.
Mitt Romney isn’t stupid – he clearly understands that cutting taxes for the rich and deregulating business disproportionately benefits the wealthy and makes everyone else’s life a never ending misery of job insecurity and increased living costs. This has been happening for 40 years in America, and the statistics aren’t exactly difficult to find:
Given taxes for the rich have gotten lower and lower over the decades, it stands to reason that it might have something to do with wealth inequality – a fact that Romney willfully ignores given it undermines his entire existence. Because of course cutting taxes for the top 1% means all that money trickles down to the bottom, even when in reality it doesn’t. What matters though, is that you say it often enough and hope that people buy in to it. And as the recent GOP gains in the midterms showed, sadly, they do.
So here’s to the ‘wealth inequality President ‘ Mitt Romney in 2016.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.