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September 19, 2011 10:02 PM UTC

"Class Warfare"--Don't Everybody Use It At Once

  • by: Colorado Pols

Ways to know that everybody got the same briefing Friday afternoon–New York Times:

Representative Paul D. Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee and a leading proponent of cutting spending on benefit programs like Medicare, said the proposal would weigh heavily on a stagnating economy.

On “Fox News Sunday,” Mr. Ryan said it would add “further instability to our system, more uncertainty, and it punishes job creation.”

“Class warfare,” [Pols emphasis] he said, “may make for really good politics, but it makes for rotten economics.”

Washington Post:

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee:

“The President doesn’t get it. Last week, he gave America another stimulus that his own party won’t support. Now, he’s rolling out massive tax hikes that his own party has already rejected. Crass class warfare, [Pols emphasis] a refusal to reform our broken entitlements, and tax hikes on job creators isn’t a solution to Washington’s spending problem and won’t help our ailing economy or the 14 million Americans who are out of work. Tax increases thinly veiled as tax reform isn’t reform.”


“When you pick one area of the economy and you say, ‘We’re going to tax those people because most people are not those people,’ that’s class warfare,” [Pols emphasis] Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

More Washington Post:

“I don’t think I would describe class warfare [Pols emphasis] as leadership,” Boehner told Fox Business Network, according to advance excerpts of an interview scheduled to air at 5 p.m. Eastern. “The government has a spending problem, and I don’t believe it makes any sense to tax the people we expect to invest in our economy.”

As we’ve noted, the public is solidly in favor–71% in favor in the latest NYT/CBS poll–of tax increases to offset spending cuts where possible in any long-term deficit reduction deal. The public also favors provisions in President Barack Obama’s “American Jobs Act” that would pay for the bill in part by eliminating certain exemptions taken by wealthy taxpayers. Republicans, recognizing in dismal poll numbers that something other than blanket rejection was needed, actually paid lip service to Obama’s jobs bill for a few days; presumably to buy time while a suitable countermessage was developed. And here it is. “Class warfare.”

We seriously doubt this is the magic needed to improve Congress’ 12% approval rating, folks. With the gap between rich and poor in America at levels not seen since before the Great Depression, there just aren’t very many left to scare with tired 1950s sloganeering. Certainly not when what you call “class warfare” is the preference of over 70% of the electorate.

At the very least, they should be smarter with the rollout. When everybody dogpiles with the exact same talking point, the whole thing comes off either desperate or scripted. Or both.


78 thoughts on ““Class Warfare”–Don’t Everybody Use It At Once

  1. Is there a secret mailing list that goes out to Republicans that says, “Class warfare is the buzzword to use until further notice”?

    It is creepy how these phrases – job creators, class warfare, socialism, death panels… –  get into the everyday lexicon so efficiently through the Republican talking heads.

    Back in the old days soldiers intercepted the messages the spies tried to sneak through enemy lines. Then it went electronic and the secret messages became encrypted. Now it is some master list of pithy catch phrases that captures attention.

    In today’s high tech world, isn’t there a way to intercept this master document before dissemination? Wouldn’t it be nice to see Fox News anchors/commentators/elected stooges not know what to say because the Democrats intercepted, or even better, replaced, the talking points for the week?

    Maybe they don’t need to communicate electronically.

    Maybe they’re the Borg.

    1. It amazes me that more rollups like this one are not publicized. Each of these was a different story, usually with only one reference to “class warfare” from a single Republican. But if you look at multiple news stories from different outlets, you see that they are all disseminating the exact same robotic talking points.

      Rachel Maddow should do a “class warfare” montage, that’s another place where I’ve seen the TP script laid out in full disgusting effect.

      1. Luntz is pretty much God when it comes to Republican messaging.  When he says you use these words, you use these words.

        There’s no equivalent on the Democratic side.  The DNC sends out frequent messages, sure.  You can also get stuff from Talk Radio News Service and a few other places if you’re on the left, but there’s no centralized meme department.

  2. in Reagan’s gulag for over thirty years now, you’d hope that the non-billionairr classes are tired of having their asses handed to ’em and are ready for a little warfare, I sure am.  I only hope we still remember how to use our weapons (figurative weapns, TBaggers . . . voting, speech, etc.) and that our generals leave their usual pea-shooters and spitwads at home.

    As to the “class-warfare” messaging borg, see also — Koch, brothers . . . and Ailes, Roger . . .

  3. Why the fuck aren’t Democrats doing this, but better? This is the future of the country at stake here. Can we all get on the same page, please? If secret briefings are working for Republicans, send some secret briefings and do some coordinated press-releasing and quote-giving to reporters. Not with the obvious creepy scripted buzzwords, but on message, people!

    1. Resistance is futile.

      Besides – Democrats actually use their brains most of the time, which makes us harder to control.

      Republicans, not so much.

      Republicans dumb it down for people and many reporters/talking heads/people appreciate that and buy into that because that is all they think they have time to hear/process.  They’re too busy updating their Facebook page or Tweeting about the weather or reading about which Kardashian is doing what with whom.

      Democrats try to explain things in an intellectual way that makes sense of the nuances and grey areas associated with the issue. They bring in studies that they have had commissioned and they bring up the fact that other enlightened countries in northern Europe with billions of dollars of oil reserves also do something a certain way. People are usually asleep or calling them liberal eggheads within the first 10 seconds.

      Plus, you can’t fight the Borg.

      1. You CAN be both intellectual and on-message. People like to be told that they’re respected. People like it when you don’t talk down to them.

        You just have to do it WELL, consistently, and (here’s where Obama fell down) be ready to get down to the opponent’s level here and there when it’s time to EXECUTE on those intellectual statements and philosophical challenges. Obama mastered talking accessibly without dumbing down his message.  

        1. If anyone allows their opposition to frame the discussion, which is just about unavoidable when you “get down to the opponent’s level”, you lose.

          Maybe in a quieter gentler time, the meta-argument about the frame could work.  But no more. Once the frame is accepted, the terms of the debate are set and the it’s game over.

          Obama has done more in the 33 months he’s been in office than Bush did in 96.

          And most of it has been good to very good, though admittedly very little has been ideal.

          1. Sir Robin will tell you I proudly sport an “Obama in the House” tee shirt at every opportunity, I love the guy.

            BUT, he didn’t follow up on proving that intellectual campaign messaging works by proving that he can follow up and set a grand strategy based on those academic-yet-accessible philosophies. He’s played defense for the better part of his term. He needs to beat them at their level, trounce them soundly enough that they run off with their tails between their legs, and then say, “Now, why don’t we bring this debate back to intelligent, rational discussion of facts?”

            They’re declining to discuss anything intelligently now, so the only thing to do is whip them good at rhetoric and then give them another opportunity to try the politics of intellectual discussion, debate, and compromise.

            The book “Master of the Senate” would be a good primer.

            1. They stay with the GOP frame.  Thus regulations become ‘job killing’ and healthcare reform becomes limited to the option of really good for private insurance companies to really really really good for private insurance companies.  Drilling goes up–but the GOP says it has been shut down, so the administration shows that it is OK opening up more and more areas to drilling.


              I am glad he is taking this fight on though.  It i about math and not class warfare.  

              1. Imagine if every Democrat asked about the revenue proposal hit the same points — Warren Buffett, simple math, and rescuing the American middle class by FINALLY asking millionaires to pay as much as their secretaries. Imagine if they didn’t apologize. Republicans aren’t apologizing for their war on the poor when they repeat the “class warfare” jargon.

                As Democrats, we’re smarter and we like being liked. We want to acknowledge that others have a right to their opinions and that they sometimes have valid points, even when we disagree. But that’s not going to work until the Republicans get clobbered good enough times to acknowledge that they’d be better off working with Democrats than selling out the country in pursuit of their #1 goal, making Obama a one-term President.

                  1. I’m glad to see Obama starting to come back with a few snappy messaging points, but he has a long way to go on party discipline. Creepy borg-ism IS hard to beat. You WILL be assimilated, if you don’t bother actually fighting it. Offering “the politics of compromise” to “the party of no” is like trying to cure cancer with homeopathic tinctures.

                1. as the default party in power ever since Reagan and why have they succeeded in controlling the terms of the debate? They even convinced most Democrats that liberal is a dirty word which is why, let’s be honest, “progressive” was invented. Just so Dems wouldn’t have to admit to the sin of being liberals. They haven’t had to abandon “conservative”, have they?

                  And why do “center” and “moderate” now mean a teensy smidge less far right than the John Birch Society, while true moderates are now called lefties?  Oh yeah…Dems have been positively brilliant and Rs have been really stupid. That’s why, after Dems pushed that rock all the way up that hill  by 2008, it was like it never happened by 2010.

                  The only reason we see  polls showing some degree of public turning against the same old R message that has worked so well for so long is because they’ve gone so over the top and forgotten not to be completely nakedly obvious, not because Dems have been any smarter.

                  In fact, it’s like the public has finally twisted the Dems arms enough to get them to at least try to look like they’re standing up for us.  They clearly had to be dragged kicking and screaming to the tougher stances we’re just now starting to see.  

                  1. How many IQ points do you think it took to come up with “class warfare” as the vocabulary word of the day?

                    Just look at advertising — is any memorable TV commercial or billboard campaign of the last 10 years “intelligent,” per se?

                    Democrats: Smarter, more empathetic, and more willing to set up a circular firing squad while the other side cheerfully holds press conferences.

                    1. Linguistic intelligence (“word smart”)

                      Logical-mathematical intelligence (“number/reasoning smart”)

                      Spatial intelligence (“picture smart”)

                      Bodily-Kinesthetic intelligence (“body smart”)

                      Musical intelligence (“music smart”)

                      Interpersonal intelligence (“people smart”)

                      Intrapersonal intelligence (“self smart”)

                      Naturalist intelligence (“nature smart”)

                      I’d say Democrats surpass Republicans in five or six of the eight, but the Republicans are thumping us so thoroughly in the other areas that we aren’t as effective as we could be.

                    2. If you can’t figure out how to win the rest doesn’t matter.  Not as effective as we could be?  That’s putting it mildly. But glad you feel great about Dems being superior in music and all:)

                  2. stupid people don’t really bother me.  

                    Somehow when you’re smarter than others you get caught in the trap of learning to accept that there are a whole bunch of stupid fuckers in this world.  Hell, if I wasn’t so smart I probably wouldn’t notice how unbelievably stupid all those stupid people think and act.  

                    Our challenge is to remain smarter than the asshats and not be so accepting of “stupid is as stupid does.”  (That’s why god invented the dope-slap.)

                    (all of the above written very much tongue-in-cheek.)

  4. by the elite with their conservative  Republican troops against the rest of us very successfully for decades.  Yet it’s the Democrats who, during all that time, have been successfully bullied by Rs, accusing them of class warfare. This takes a lot of chutzpah.  I’ll give Rs an A in that department. I’ll give Dems an F in courage of their convictions.

    Even so, it appears that the nakedness of the greed of the elite and the undeniable fact that while promising jobs, they have instead devoted themselves to cutting and outsourcing them has finally become so obvious that the public is starting to awaken from a decades long, Reagan induced stupor.

    Polls show people do want the rich to pay more in taxes before they take it put of the hides of the rest of us.  The public disapproves of congress as body we can expect to serve our interests but approve of Republicans in congress less than they do of pretty much any other sentient beings on the planet.

    Time for Dems to admit it.  Yes, it’s class warfare and the top tenth of a percent has been beating the crap out of the rest of us for long enough. They’ve been transferring as much of our wealth as they possibly can get away with to their pockets through tax codes, breaks, subsidies and a labyrinth of loopholes for long enough.   It’s time for the rest of us to wake up, fight back and become the most prosperous middle class dominated nation on earth again. It will be the most patriotic war we’ve ever fought.

    Obama and the Dems have to stick to their guns on this or we’ll have to reach rock bottom under full GO(T)P government starting in 2013 and try to come back to fight another day with better leaders.

    1. It is class genocide–war implies that the other side is fighting back.

      The war is on the middle class.  Eliminate the things that brought stability and security to the middle class and see what you get.  

      Look at things that have been destroyed or diminished in the last 30 years:

      Low cost higher education (now it is a debt trap)

      Defined benefit pension plans

      Employer provided health care

      Collective bargaining rights

      Public infrastructure

      Now the elite are openly calling to destroy:

      Social security


      Universal public k-12

      Some of the more radical elements also call for the end of:

      Food safety laws

      child labor laws

      what’s next

      a return to slavery and indentured servitude (this one will come from the banks because everyone should have to pay back their credit cards)

      We are in the midst of a destruction of the public good that has no rival, we stand as witness to the unmaking of America.

          1. And, BTW, who are the ones who started screaming class warfare in the first place?  And putting cross hair targets on opponents while screaming lock and load? And calling Obama more dangerous than the terrorists? And warning that letting gays marry would lead to people marrying dogs? Or suggested that states ought to secede?  Who, in short, invented today’s level of political hyperbole and hysteria?

        1. Closing a few loopholes on corporate jets and raising taxes on billionaires by 3% does not qualify as “warfare” in anyone’s book–unless of course you are a weak ass elitist with the constitution of a 12 year old girl.  I don’t know if that describes you, but whatever.

          You guys are a joke.  You can say class warfare, but the other side can’t turn your words against you?

          Maybe I should have gone with “Nobody who hasn’t lived through a war should ever be allowed to compare tax policy to war.  War is a special horror that only those that have lived it can understand.  Shame on those opportunists who imply that a 3% tax increase is anywhere close to what we have asked our warfighters to give u in defense of this country.”

  5. Income levels

    A) $10,001

    B) $20,001

    C) $60,001

    D) $100,001

    E) $250,001

    ____A   B   C   D   E

    1946 38% 56% 78% 89% 91%

    1948 38% 56% 78% 89% 91%

    1950 38% 56% 78% 89% 91%

    1952 42% 62% 80% 90% 92%

    1954 38% 56% 78% 89% 91%

    1956 26% 38% 62% 75% 89%

    1958 26% 38% 62% 75% 89%

    1960 26% 38% 62% 75% 89%

    1962 26% 38% 62% 75% 89%

    1964 23% 34% 56% 66% 76%

    1966 – 1976 22% 32% 53% 62% 70%

    1980 18% 24% 54% 59% 70%

    1982 16% 22% 49% 50% 50%

    1984 14% 18% 42% 45% 50%

    1986 14% 18% 38% 45% 50%

    1988 15% 15% 28% 28% 28%

    1990 15% 15% 28% 28% 28%

    1992 15% 15% 28% 28% 31%

    1994 15% 15% 28% 31% 39.6%

    1996 15% 15% 28% 31% 36%

    1998 15% 15% 28% 28% 36%

    2000 15% 15% 28% 28% 36%

    2002 10% 15% 27% 27% 35%

    2004 10% 15% 25% 25% 33%

    2006 10% 15% 15% 25% 33%

    2008 10% 15% 15% 25% 33%

    2010 10% 15% 15% 25% 33%

    Seems to me that the national debate, and especialy the GOTP talking points, are backwards.

    Rather than start with the rates and ask whether they should stay the same, go up or go down, we should:

    a)  start with the budget,

    b) decide whether surplus, break even or deficit

    c) then set the rates that will get b) based on a).

    That said- 91% top rate seems goofy. Ernie Kovacs probably got that one right.

    But a flat tax is just plain mean.  Just about everyone in the civilized world gets that right.

    That leaves somewhere in the middle – or replace the income tax with something else.

    Massive consumption taxes (as a percentage of the tax receipt) has worked elsewhere, but intuitively I’d argue that in the USA, with a consumer driven economy, and an economy that is 25% of the global economy, VAT or 9/9/9 would effectively kill economic growth for a generation or more.  (That would be painful – and to me,a bad thing.)

    That said – consumption taxes that yield other benefits (conservation of liquid fuels and less dependence on foreign oil, for example) would be great.  Phased in, with certainy and a gradual time table that allows consumption patterns to adjust.

    Otherwise, the Buffet rule seems like a perfect place to start.  If only the Buffet rule didn’t include death panels, UN seizure of all privately owned guns, and free abortion on demand for undocumented workers.



    Rep. John Fleming (R-LA) appeared on MSNBC with Chris Jansing this morning to attack President Obama’s new deficit reduction plan, which includes some tax increases on the wealthy…

    Fleming is himself a businesses owner, so Jansing asked, “If you have to pay more in taxes, you would get rid of some of those employees?” Fleming responded by saying that while his businesses made $6.3 million last year, after you “pay 500 employees, you pay rent, you pay equipment, and food,” his profits “a mere fraction of that” – “by the time I feed my family, I have maybe $400,000 left over.” Jansing pointed out that whining about tax increases while making $400,000 annually is “not exactly a sympathetic position.” Fleming could only respond by saying that “class warfare has never created a job.”

    Watch it here:

      1. String the greedy profiteering bastard up!

        Exactly how much money is too much to keep for someone running a business and employing people Daft?  Where exactly is the line?  $400k is too much?  Then tell us how much he should be making from his business. This “HATE THE RICH!” crap isn’t selling.

        1. As he notes “After I feed my family…” which could reasonably be considered shorthand for take care of familial obligations…or not.  But if so, let’s imagine he means, ‘after I feed my family, pay my mortgage, and cover my basic bills.’

          But the meat of the matter is this: what % of Rep. Fleming’s take home were wages and what percentage was distribution on profits, and what effective rate on total earnings (wages + distributions) did Rep. Fleming pay?  How does that compare to his employees that get all their earning as wages on which they pay payroll taxes on the entire amount?  

          Of course the Rep. also draws a six-figure salary courtesy of the taxpayers…so his yearly take home is nearly $600,000.  And we pay for his Cadillac health coverage, cushy retirement benefits, gym privileges, staff and office too. Yeah, not exactly a sympathetic position.  More like pathetic.  

        2. If he’s keeping 6.3% of his business profits (and his wording is weaselly enough to make me think he keeps more and is trying to downplay it…), then of that 6.3% in take-home pay he should pay his fair share in taxes as though he were any other working stiff making a lot of money, i.e. about 29% overall, 35% top marginal rate.

          Any questions?

            1. Nobody here said anything about stringing him up or hating him. We think his taxes should maybe be slightly higher. That’s all.

              Do me a favor, complete the following analogy:

              Cat : Dog :: a __% tax increase on millionaires : the Holocaust

              1. And Republicans don’t want to poison the air and water, force grandma to steal cat food to survive, or take away Social Security.  And yet all those claims are made on this site without a single word from you.  So why should I take your comment seriously?  Not to mention the gratuitous insult in the subject line.  You really don’t have anything of substance to contribute, at all.

                This whole posting is about how Republicans have turned the class warfare meme that was being used so much earlier this year, most noticeably in Wisconsin, around on the left. The amount of response to to this tactic speaks to its effectiveness.  

          1. The ‘about $400,000’ is after he ‘feeds his family’ (and I presume takes care of other basic bills, which could account for quite a bit).  Then there is the $174,000 base pay for being a congress critter…

            And, of course, he likely has investments.  

            So he could very well be a millionaire.  Poor soul.  My heart bleeds for his sad condition.  

            1. It’s likely that he’s a couple of bucks over 1 million at most. And it’s only the amount over 1 million that has the higher rate. Bottom line is this does not impact him yet he seems to think he is facing higher tax payments.

              It’s scary how even people in Congress don’t understand how taxes work.

        3. I don’t hate him because he’s rich – and neither do most Ds.

          I just believe that the AMerican economy has been very very good to him and he should pay his fair share.

          Exactly how did you conclude he does that?

    1. to put food on their family if they’re only going to have a mere 400K a year left over after all the bills are paid?  At that rate it would take him ten whole years to sock away 4 million to grow towards college and retirement. Definitely need to make that man’s pie higher. No wonder he and his fellow job creators can’t create any new jobs. We should take up a friggin’ collection and find a country willing to take in these poor refugees of the cruel war on their class.  Wonder how many killed, wounded, starved, sick and displaced they’ve suffered so far? The horror.

      1. I’m not saying this to argue against the higher taxes as I support them. But keep in mind that profit in many cases goes to increasing the number of jobs. At my company our policy is we have enough money in the bank to cover 6 months of operations with no income (which means if we hit a depression we’re good for a year because sales won’t drop to 0).

        So to increase hiring, we need profit to put in the bank. And that’s money we don’t spend – it sits in the bank as a cushion. But without that profit to add to the bank account we can’t increase hiring.

        Keep that in mind when you denigrate profits. Because an additional 600K in profit at my company means an additional 400K after taxes. And that’s an additional 6 people we can hire.

        1. $400k plus family living expenses of $200k plus his Congressional salary.

          I kind of doubt he’s the proud owner of a DBA or LLC doing $6.3m per year – at that stage it’s time to look at being an S-corp so that your corporate profits really can stay in the corporation for future development.

          His personal tax rate could go up a bit and the worst that might happen is that he puts more back into the company savings to hire more people, while he makes due with a slightly less exorbitant vacation.

            1. he is talking about what he has left over after all of his expenses are covered and  any reduction due to new tax proposals would be pretty damn minimal.  He does not mention that changes would interfere with plans to hire new workers. He seems to be saying  it’s tough enough with the 500 he already has.  And obviously, as a group, these “job creators” are not using their profits to create jobs. If they were, we’d be seeing job growth. Duh.

              You really do seem to see everything entirely through the lens of your little corner of the economic world. . Because you are hiring more doesn’t mean “job creators” in general are. The proof that the “job creators” are full of it, regardless of your personal experience in Daveland, is the…ummm…. lack of jobs during all the years they’ve been getting every break in the book.  

              With our little Mom and pop, all of our income comes from profits, which in our sector of the economy have been decreasing since 2007. Trust me, I’d love more profit.  For us that means the profit level we enjoyed under Clinton when we paid higher taxes,  both via percentage  and being in a higher tax bracket because we made so damn much more money and also provided so much more work for so many more subs.

              Everything isn’t all about you, Dave,

                1. I sometimes speed read through something and jump to conclusions.  Especially when it’s someone I kind of expect to have an issue with and we’ve kind of been having some issues. On the core issues, we’re on the same team, though 🙂

            2. I own a business.  The way mine works is I pay taxes on all my profits, after expenses (which include my salary but not the company’s savings account).  In other words, I pay taxes on the total income over expenses the company makes (as a percent of my ownership), even though I stash some away in the company’s savings account.  The profits represented by the company savings account are already taxed, via a K-1.  If I hired another employee, expenses would go up, profits would go down (and so would my taxes, as I would have less profit).  

              If I had more profits–left in the company’s account–I might hire more people.  Or I might pay off some debt.  Or it might go in my pocket.  Profit is good.  So I am unsure what your comment means–certainly increases in corporate profits have not translated to more jobs.  The former is up the latter remains depressed.  So to simply suggest that more profit is what allows companies to hire more employees, while perhaps seemingly intuitively correct, does not appear borne out in the current circumstances.  Instead, CEO : worker compensation continues to grow more disparate, while people are sold a line of BS that this is good because they are the job creators.  Guess what?  They aren’t, your own efforts aside, as we can clearly see from reality.  So as a ‘job creator’ class, I would have to say overall they suck.    

    1. We are ready for class warfare — and we’re ready to march.  There is a struggling middle class ready to fight for the preservation of the middle class, and for no extra charge we’ll help lift up the poor, too.

      All we need is leadership . . . .

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