It is often the case that what seems glaringly obvious to a few is non-existent to the masses, and it is likely because in a highly developed nation with a preponderance of 24/7 media outlets, the focus of reporting is dictated by moneyed interests. However, when conditions in a country deteriorate to the point they affect the overwhelming majority of the population, the reality that they have been deceived by the media and the political party responsible for their misfortune can no longer be denied. Republicans and their corporate media puppets have misled the people for the past five years of a thirty year campaign with an absurd notion that if the people, through their government, give every advantage and the nation’s riches to the wealthy, their fortunes will rise and they will join the ranks of the richest two-percent of income earners. But after decades of declining incomes, a vanishing middle class, and over 50-million working Americans barely surviving in poverty while the rich continue increasing their wealth, the overwhelming majority finally realize their government exists to favor the rich and they are demanding change.
Maybe it was Pope Francis’s late November Evangelii Gaudium where he critiqued income inequality and denounced trickle-down economics as “idolatry of money” he warned is “a new tyranny,” or maybe it was President Obama’s economic speech a week later reiterating his State of the Union and Inaugural message that income equality was “the defining challenge of our time” that brought Americans to their senses. Or maybe it was just Americans looking at their declining fortunes and millions of their fellow citizens struggling to feed their families while the richest two percent reap all the wealth that drove them to say enough already.
In a new ABC News/Washington Post poll released yesterday, over two-thirds of Americans said it is time to raise the minimum wage, rejected Republican claims doing so will encourage layoffs, and complained that current federal government policies favor the wealthy over the rest of the population. The overwhelming majority supporting a minimum wage hike even went so far as to proffer a figure higher than that called for by President Obama in his State of the Union address. The respondents proposed raising the $7.25 an hour minimum to $10.25 instead of the President’s figure of $10.10, and their support for raising the minimum wage is directly linked to their broader concern about income inequality devastating the masses and holding back the economy according to the overriding opinion of three dozen economic experts surveyed last week. Two-thirds of respondents said federal policies unfairly favor the wealthy, and 57% support efforts to reduce the income gap crushing Americans with overwhelming support for raising the minimum wage in each of those groups.
Support for a higher minimum wage among Democrats and liberals was a stunning 85%, and 71% of moderates and 65% of independents favored higher pay to “to help low-income workers get by.” Not surprisingly, Republican support fell to 50% and strong conservatives supported higher wages by 46%, while only 31% favored keeping the poor in poverty earning $7.25 an hour. What is encouraging and should give Democrats some backbone to stand up to Republicans was that nearly 60% say it is up to government to reduce the income gap between the richest 2% and those less well-off. Two- thirds complained it is unfair that federal economic and tax policies driven by Republicans favor the wealthiest Americans and their corporations. Of course, while 81% of Democrats say Republican policies favor the wealthy and 76% strongly support government intervention to reduce the unfair income gap, only 48 and 40 percent of Republicans respectively think their party’s policies driven by their love affair with the richest 2% of income earners and their corporations is unfair. Still, the overwhelming consensus is it is high time for this government to stop giving the nation’s wealth to 2% of the population and they want it to take steps to help the least fortunate.
The poll’s results reflect an increasing concern for the plight of the poor and disadvantaged that has been missing from normally decent Americans. For thirty years, Republicans successfully convinced the majority of Americans it was patriotic to venerate the wealthy through unrestrained capitalism that inherently takes from the poor, but now that Republicans have set their sights on what is left of the middle class, senior citizens, Veterans, and children, it appears they are speaking out. It is probable that with so many Americans in poverty, there are few Americans who do not know someone, likely a family member, who has not been adversely affected by Republican machinations to rob from the masses to enrich the already wealthy. Their overwhelming support for raising the minimum wage and demand that the government stops enriching the wealthy is a sign Republicans have went too far.
Even though the majority of Americans support policies ending the government’s favoritism of the rich and raising the pathetic minimum wage that enables the richest corporations and Wall Street to post record profits, Republicans are unlikely to change. In the states their money machine the Koch brothers, big tobacco, and Kraft Foods are on a crusade to raid pensions to send more seniors into the ranks of poverty, and across the South the Koch brothers legislative arm, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), has successfully held wages at poverty levels with anti-union right to work for less laws. In Congress, despite keeping their sequester in place to kill jobs and destroy safety nets, Republicans oppose raising the minimum wage, funding food stamps, or extending unemployment benefits. It is all a concerted effort to widen the income gap and send more Americans into poverty while protecting the rich and corporations from tax reform to close loopholes that further enrich the wealthy.
It was just reported that Republicans led by Mitch McConnell have set their sights on slashing Social Security and Medicare at the behest of Wall Street CEOs who claim they “can’t afford Americans’ Social Security” pensions or Medicare benefits seniors paid for throughout their working lives. Sadly, Democrats conceded cutting military and federal employee’s pensions to prevent Republicans from shutting down the government again in January that was a ruse to save the wealthy and corporations’ from tax reform that is restricting government revenue to repair this country’s third-class infrastructure. Whether Republicans get the message that Americans have had enough of their Koch brother, ALEC, and Wall Street masters driving government gifts to the rich remains to be seen, but if history is any indication, they will disregard the will of the people and dutifully obey their wealthy benefactors; only this time is it at their electoral peril.