Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Class Warfare, State By State

We are beginning to see the outlines of GOP strategy.

Thus far, it is evident only in Wisconsin and New Jersey, the leaders of the War Against The Middle Class. But the conflict between workers and The State in Ohio, Indiana, and other states led by Repub governors has only begun.

And so it was that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker would tell Chris Wallace on GOP News Sunday (transcript here)

But most importantly, there are 5.5 million people in the state, taxpayers who, by and large, are sacrificing in their own jobs in the private sector paying much more than the 5.8 percent for pension and 12.6 percent for health care I'm asking for -- in fact, in many cases, two or three times that amount. They make tough sacrifices to balance the budgets in their communities and their homes and their businesses. I think it is realistic that we make sure that as loud as the voices are in the capital, we don't let them overpower the voices of the taxpayers I was elected to represent and elected to get the job done, which is balancing this budget.

For Walker, it's taxpayers vs. the workers, though if those workers themselves aren't taxpayers, they must be getting paid even less than Walker would want them to be. (Not really, the floor is the limit on this one.) It's people who work for a living and pay taxes vs. people who work for a living and pay taxes. For Chris Christie- who cut taxes for the wealthy last year to deal with a budget shortfall- it's much the same, though with a twist. He briefly addressed the leaders of the Democratic-controlled state legislature in the annual budget message of the New Jersey governor:

I am asking you both, and the members of this legislature, to make good on the promise to pass comprehensive pension and benefit reform on Senator Sweeney's timetable, by the middle of March.

And as I am asking the Democratic Leadership to make good on their promise, I am offering a powerful incentive to sweeten the pot. If you pass real reform, along Senator Sweeney’s timetable, I will make a $500 million payment to the pension fund immediately, not wait until sometime in Fiscal Year 2012, which is all that the law we passed last year requires. This would be the first payment made since fiscal year 2009, by anyone, Democrat or Republican. Let’s not wait – real reform on Senator Sweeney’s timetable – real money into the pension fund immediately.

Next, enacting reform of our public employee health insurance program now will enable us to take another vital step — providing critical property tax relief to those who need it most: hard working, middle-class New Jerseyans and seniors.

I am proposing today to double the property tax rebate for middle class families and our seniors, to ease the transition to the 2% property tax cap we are faithfully implementing this year.

Under my plan, in FY 2012 senior and disabled homeowners with incomes up to $150,000 would receive double the benefits they will receive in the current fiscal year — which, by the way, they are receiving directly as a credit on their property tax bill.

Non-senior homeowners with incomes up to $75,000 will also see their property tax relief double over what they will receive this fiscal year....

But let me be clear: the chance for middle class taxpayers and seniors to receive double the property tax relief without raising taxes on anyone else is solely up to you, the Legislature. The ability to provide doubled property tax rebates involves a tradeoff and requires real reform to pay for it.

Elderly people (and disabled people) will get property tax relief if only government workers are sacrificed. If not, presumably, the governor's opponents will be accused of pulling the plug on grandma. Old people vs. workers- in most cases, the middle class vs. the middle class.

The classic term is "class warfare," not "inter-class warfare." It is not restricted to the conservative attack on the middle class on behalf of the wealthy, but extends to the fervent effort to pit middle class against middle class. Walker in Wisconsin, Christie in New Jersey, Kasich in Ohio are trying to destroy the union movement and if they can undermine the middle class at the same time, all the better.

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