Once again, the L.A. Times’ Michael Hiltzik has come to the defense of the middle and lower classes as the wealthy and corporate empowered special interests still call the tunes in Washington.
Under the headline “The middle class languishes as the super-rich thrive: Washington’s proposed budget solutions are ever more irrelevant to the problems at hand while being more protective of the 1%,” in the December 30 edition of the paper, Hiltzik postulates that the agreements that will prevent the country from falling off the “fiscal cliff” presages cuts in government at a time when we’re still grappling with a struggling economy: “There will be lower federal spending at a time when the government participation in the economy is still crucial; there will be less take-home pay for the middle class and the working class, who pump almost everything they have into the marketplace,” he says.
“The course of negotiations in Washington suggests that in 2013, the Americans taking it on the chin will be people defined by Mitt Romney as the 47% who refuse to ‘take personal responsibility … for their lives,’ but who are defined by more thoughtful observers of the American masses as seniors, veterans, disabled persons and the unemployed or underemployed. The progressive principles defended by President Obama on the stump, such as the sanctity of benefits promised the elderly and infirm, will be put on the table as bargaining chips to purchase modestly higher tax rates for the wealthy.”
Meanwhile, corporate CEOs — who contribute lavishly to the campaigns of most elected officials and whose lobby organizations wield enviable clout — want the deficit cut by any means possible, except raising taxes on themselves.
And, as Hiltzik puts it, there’s “no sign of a remedy for the middle-class malady. The sickness is made up in equal parts of snail’s-pace job growth in the private sector; wholesale cutbacks of teaching jobs and other middle-class positions in the public sector; growing income inequality that narrows the economic base for all; a continuing overhang of excessive mortgage debt for homeowners; and a sharp deterioration in retirement security.”
Happy New Year.