Saturday, February 14, 2015

Democrats and Republicans - There's A Difference

From a Reuters interview with Republican Paul Ryan, chair of the House Ways and Means committee, about prospects for reforming the tax code this year:

 Ryan said he would prefer to pass a comprehensive tax reform plan this year that simplifies and lowers rates for both companies and individuals. Democratic President Barack Obama has said he wants to push forward with a corporate-only tax reform.

I've pointed out various ways lately, like here and here, in which Democrats have become more conservative than Republicans or Republicans have moved to the left of Democrats, and here's another example. Republicans want to cut everybody's taxes while the president only wants to cut corporate taxes. He'll find a lot of Democratic backing in congress, where Democrats now often raise more corporate money than Republicans.

Since Reagan, as taxes on big business and the wealthy have plummeted, the share of the cost of funding government has fallen increasingly on workers. Republicans would as soon do away with all taxes, and government, but Democrats know someone has to fund the military, the bailout loans, the corporate subsidies.

Ryan - Reuters/Jonathan Ernst
Ryan, by the way, the 2010 Republican vice presidential nominee, has grown a beard, apparently having become weary of being mistaken for Eddie Munster.

Democrats and Labor - send in the troops

It was kind of quiet on I-40 the last couple of nights. I wondered why, but now I read about the lockout at the big west coast ports, where all those shiploads of Wal Mart products from China come in, and all our cell phones and computers and everything else we buy. The port owners have locked out the Longshoreman's Union (International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU)), who've been working without a contract since July and recently began staging slowdowns. A lockout is basically a strike by the owners, though it's never called that. This one was called by the Pacific Maritime Association, made up of port owners, which like the Chamber of Commerce and other groups where owners organize to further interests they have on common, is a union, though they are never called that.

Despite soaring corporate profits and a stock market that has doubled under Obama, corporations, with the help of government including Democrats, are trying to maintain the downward trend in wages and benefits that's been underway the past 30 years.  There's also a small scale strike going on at California refineries, where 5,200 of the 30,000 workers represented by the United Steelworkers have walked out, but even that meek job action prompted two west coast Democratic house members to call on the president to invoke the Taft-Hartley Act, which gives a US president broad powers to suppress labor activity by simply saying it's for national security.

Taft-Hartley, the most draconian anti labor law of them all, rolled back many of the New Deal era laws protecting union organizing from corporate and government suppression. But under it, the president can impose contracts and call out the national guard to violently repress workers and any broader community support they have. Democrats Janice Hahn of California and Kurt Schrader of Oregon joined Republicans at a Capitol Hill news conference this week calling for a presidential clampdown of west coast workers under Taft-Hartley.

New Mexico's conservative Democrats, as I have pointed out before, are essentially anti union. Their rhetoric is either pro business or so bland as to be meaningless, and they are so afraid of offending corporations or of encouraging union membership that they never utter the word "union" in public.

They never say anything that might encourage average citizens to organize in any way and thereby unleash the tremendous latent power they posses. They see their jobs as doing everything they can to discourage that and to keep workers powerless while creating the illusion that they are "working hard" to represent their interests, while selling them out to their wealthy patrons.

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