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Ear to the Ground

How the GOP Takes ‘Glee in Inflicting Further Suffering’ on the Miserable

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Posted on Jul 15, 2013
Flickr/commonwealth.club

The latest criticism of the Republican Party launched by New York Times columnist Paul Krugman centers around the “monstrous” farm bill that passed through the GOP-controlled House last week. Noting that for the past two decades, the legislation had two parts, one for farmer subsidies and one for nutritional aid to those in need, Krugman criticizes Republican lawmakers for separating the food stamps portion out of the bill while maintaining the “fraud-ridden” farm subsidies that he says benefit big corporations and the wealthy.

“To fully appreciate what just went down, listen to the rhetoric conservatives often use to justify eliminating safety-net programs. It goes something like this: ‘You’re personally free to help the poor. But the government has no right to take people’s money’—frequently, at this point, they add the words ‘at the point of a gun’—‘and force them to give it to the poor,” the Nobel Prize-winning economist writes Sunday. “It is, however, apparently perfectly O.K. to take people’s money at the point of a gun and force them to give it to agribusinesses and the wealthy.”

Krugman says this is beyond hypocrisy before shredding Republicans’ baseless claims about food stamps and other social safety net programs.

“What about the theory, common on the right, that ... we have so much unemployment thanks to government programs that, in effect, pay people not to work?” he asks. “The basic answer is, you have to be kidding.” Krugman wonders whether Republicans actually believe that Americans can even make do on the $134 a month average benefit that food stamps—known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)—provide.

Nevertheless, he “pretends” to take the GOP’s absurd claim that government aid is inducing the unemployed to stay home and not look for work seriously. To that end, Krugman writes that if the Republican line of thinking were the case, then the laws of supply and demand should apply. The result, he says, would be a shortage in the workforce and an increase in wages, especially among lower-income workers who are more likely to receive aid. Instead, that group in particular—the one that would benefit the most from SNAP—has seen wages stay stagnant or even decrease.

Little wonder then that Krugman prefaces his latest deconstruction of GOP fallacies and baseless claims by saying Republicans must “take positive glee in inflicting further suffering on the already miserable.” 

Paul Krugman via The New York Times:

So what’s going on here? Is it just racism? No doubt the old racist canards — like Ronald Reagan’s image of the “strapping young buck” using food stamps to buy a T-bone steak — still have some traction. But these days almost half of food stamp recipients are non-Hispanic whites; in Tennessee, home of the Bible-quoting Mr. Fincher, the number is 63 percent. So it’s not all about race.

What is it about, then? Somehow, one of our nation’s two great parties has become infected by an almost pathological meanspiritedness, a contempt for what CNBC’s Rick Santelli, in the famous rant that launched the Tea Party, called “losers.” If you’re an American, and you’re down on your luck, these people don’t want to help; they want to give you an extra kick. I don’t fully understand it, but it’s a terrible thing to behold.

Read more

—Posted by Tracy Bloom.

 

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