The act of singling out any individual, or party, for unmerited negative treatment or blame is scapegoating and it is a cowardly action to avoid taking responsibility for one’s own behavior. Conservatives and their supporters regularly blame all manner of the nation’s ills on groups such as immigrants, the poor, and minorities to cover-up their own inadequacies and failed policies. For the past two years pundits from the right and left blamed Republican intransigence on raising taxes on the wealthy on the lowly teabaggers in Congress, and now on Grover Norquist. In particular, Speaker of the House John Boehner is often praised for his willingness to deal, and cooperate, with President Obama on economic issues, but he is let off the hook for failing to deliver because allegedly, the tea party members will not go along with, or compromise, on any deal that does not reflect their values that are exclusively anti-Obama.
In the fiscal cliff negotiations, teabaggers are not the only scapegoats, and there has been no dearth of blame targeting anti-government advocate Grover Norquist who many blame for Republicans’ obstinacy in raising taxes on the wealthy, and it is curious that a man with no real authority or power is being singled out, with teabaggers, as one of the obstacles preventing Republican compromise on taxes and spending cuts to avoid the over-hyped fiscal cliff. A stranger to politics might think there is an ideological gulf between reasonable Republicans and ideologically intransient Norquist and teabaggers that prevents them from working for the good of the nation, but the absurd notion that Republicans are being coerced by Norquist or the teabaggers to reject a balanced approach to deficit reduction, or tax increases on the wealthy, is a canard to conceal the real culprits; Republicans.
For the past four years, Republicans have staked out their position as anti-government, anti-spending, and anti-compromise politics, and interestingly it is exactly the same political agenda espoused by the tea party and Grover Norquist. Of special note is Norquist’s anti-tax pledge Republicans have embraced that appears to be their reason for holding middle class tax cuts hostage, and that teabaggers have embraced since their inception in 2009. When the teabaggers first came on the national scene, they carried signs and proclaimed they were “taxed enough already” as a protest to President Obama even though the tax rates at the time were from the Bush era, and despite the President cutting their taxes as part of his stimulus program. However, the Republican anti-tax sentiment originated long before Barack Obama was elected President and prior to Grover Norquist entrance as an anti-government and anti-tax activist.
The Republicans’ love affair with an anti-tax agenda goes back before the Reagan era, and has persisted as the GOP embraced the lunacy of supply-side economics that claims economic growth is created by removing barriers for people to produce (supply) goods and services, such as lowering income tax and capital gains tax rates, and by eliminating regulations that explains the GOP’s frenzy to cut taxes, especially for the rich and corporations. The problem with the so-called “trickle down” theory of economics is that it has never worked; not in Reagan’s time and not now, but for some unknown reasons, only Republicans have never discovered the abject failure of tilting the nation’s economy in favor of the wealthy and their corporations.
What has occurred by continuing the Republican obsession with helping the rich and corporations is their share of the wealth is increasing as the rest of the population’s wages are at an all-time low. For example, in the third quarter of this year, “corporate earnings were $1.75 trillion, up 18.6% from a year ago,” and as corporations made more than they ever have since such records were kept, wages as a percentage of the economy are at an all-time low. The so-called trickle-down, supply-side economic theory has been a raging success, for big business and the rich while none of their wealth has trickled down to the middle class. Still, Republicans like John Boehner and Mitch McConnell claim that unless the richest Americans see lower tax rates, the so-called job creators will languish in economic darkness and despair and will not begin creating jobs.
As the fiscal cliff negotiations wind down closer to the end of the year, it is time for pundits and politicians alike to stop giving credit, or assigning blame, to the teabagger caucus in Congress or Grover Norquist because they have nothing whatsoever to do with Republican opposition to raising taxes on the wealthy. They are scapegoats, and if they did not exist, Republicans would still hold the middle class hostage for tax breaks for the rich and corporations, or as John Boehner so often refers to them, the job-creators.
There is little doubt Norquist is an ideologue whose claim to fame is as an anti-tax, anti-government, and anti-spending fanatic, but so are the teabaggers and they all are intrinsically linked to conservatives at the Heritage Foundation, Americans for Enterprise, and the Koch brothers who helped fund the earliest incarnation of the teabaggers and drive Republican economic policy. However, they are all part and parcel of the conservative movement that has quietly morphed into a libertarian party of anything goes so long as it is driven by anti-government, anti-spending, and anti-tax ideology that began over thirty years’ ago before there was a tea party, and before Grover Norquist founded Americans for Tax Reform in 1985, which he says was done at the request of then-President Ronald Reagan who only latched on to the anti-tax movement in 1979 before he was elected president and officially began the GOP’s fanaticism and opposition to taxes; especially for the wealthy.