Balz and Rucker over at The Washington Post argued that, Both Parties Agree: Economic Mobility Will Be a Defining Theme of 2016 Campaign. Their evidence? Basically just that some Republicans are talking about wage stagnation. And here’s the killer quote, “And Mitt Romney, the 2012 GOP nominee who was portrayed by Democrats as insensitive to and out of touch with the lives of middle- and working-class Americans, has told friends he considers poverty a topic du jour as he weighs another run in 2016.” That’s right: for insights, they turn to Mitt Romney, friend of the working man.
Ed Kilgore was not impressed, Are We All “Populists” Now? He argued primarily that there are all kinds of “populism” on the right that are totally consistent with “worship of corporate job-creators.” (He should have put “job-creators” in scare quotes.) But he also mentioned what I think is the main issue here: Republicans “tend to adapt the same old agenda to the newly defined problem.” I would only disagree with this in that he says “tend.” This is all Republicans ever do about any issue whatsoever.
Look at Obamacare. I have written about this a lot, but most specifically in, Republicans New Healthcare Distraction. The Republicans never have any new healthcare ideas. It’s the same old thing. They want, for example, tort “reform.” But countless studies have shown that this will not bring healthcare costs down. Republicans want it because they have always wanted it for different reasons: it is a way of giving more power to the rich at the expense of the poor. It’s as simple as that. As I wrote a year and a half ago, “Basically, the Republican Study Committee’s answer to the healthcare crisis in this country is the same as it always is: the magic of the marketplace will fix everything.”
The same thing is true when it comes to economy. And this too is an issue that I’ve harped on for a long time. Every time Democrats and Republicans talk about income inequality, the nitwit “centrist” pundits start talking about how finally the two parties are going to work together. But the two parties mean entirely different things. The Democrats talk about increasing the minimum wage and Republicans not only don’t want to do that, many of them want to get rid of the minimum wage all together. But the Republicans even disagree with the Democrats’ lame neoliberal ideas like “job training.” When Republicans talk about “income inequality,” what they mean is that the “job creators” are being oppressed. Their argument is that if the rich are made more rich and we remove any business regulation that allows them to get even more rich, then they will bless us all by hiring some people. Business doesn’t work this way. Regardless, the Republican answer to the income inequality they claim to care about is to increase income inequality.
This is why it is insane to think that there is going to be any real discussion of income inequality in the 2016 election. The Democrats will doubtless be talking about it to some extent — I’m not expecting a lot, but there will be discussion of it — especially the minimum wage. But the Republicans will be talking about what they always talk about: cutting taxes on the “job creators” and ending regulation on the “job creators.” They may say that it is the all about cutting income inequality, but their policies will be the same as ever. And those policies will lead to things getting worse, not better.