Last night, Kentucky elected Rand Paul (R-KY), the son of Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), to the U.S. Senate. Speaking to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, Paul announced his intention to do anything it takes to shield the privileged rich and corporate America. Asked if he would end the $830 billion, unpaid-for Bush tax cuts to the rich and return tax rates for the wealthiest bracket to Clinton-era levels, Paul snapped and said such a move would cause a “second great depression” and declared that “anybody who proposes such a policy really is, I think, unfit to be making decisions.”
Paul then clarified his delusional worldview by telling Blitzer that “there are no rich” and “there are no poor.” In Paul’s mind, even taxing yachts would somehow punish the working poor in Kentucky. “We all either work for rich people or we sell stuff to rich people,” concluded Rand:
PAUL: I would say that they must be in favor of a second American depression, because if you raise taxes to that consequence, that’s what will happen in this country. Raising taxes in the midst of a recession would be a disaster for our economy. And anybody who proposes such a policy really is, I think, unfit to be making decisions.
BLITZER: What if they just raised taxes on the richest, those making more than 250,000 dollars a year?
PAUL: Well, the thing is, we’re all interconnected. There are no rich. There are no middle class. There are no poor. We all are interconnected in the economy. You remember a few years ago, when they tried to tax the yachts, that didn’t work. You know who lost their jobs? The people making the boats, the guys making 50,000 and 60,000 dollars a year lost their jobs. We all either work for rich people or we sell stuff to rich people. So just punishing rich people is as bad for the economy as punishing anyone. Let’s not punish anyone. Let’s keep taxes low and let’s cut spending.
Paul has fashioned himself a protector of the privileged class, for instance arguing repeatedly against regulating BP in the wake of its oil disaster. But an honest look at American society reveals a world divorced from Paul’s rhetoric. Many of America’s most profitable corporations, including Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and ExxonMobil, paid essentially nothing in corporate taxes in all of 2009. In 2007, the latest year for which figures are available from the Federal Reserve Board, the “richest 1% of U.S. households owned 33.8% of the nation’s private wealth.”
According to the Institute for Policy Studies, that is “more than the combined wealth of the bottom 90 percent.” And of course, inequality varies by geography, gender, race, and other factors. A recent study found that the median wealth for single black women was $5 compared to $42,600 for single white women. Meanwhile, as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its Republican allies fight against working class pay increases, the minimum wage sits at $7.25 as many corporate executives make as much as $27,000 an hour.
Paul has cloaked his greed and support for the privileged class in a thin veneer he calls “libertarianism” or “constitutional conservatism.” But as he assails programs to help working Americans as “socialism,” he has opposed any cuts to doctors like himself through Medicare.