The GOP’s latest presidential frontrunner Newt Gingrich drew a stark contrast between the Tea Party and Occupy movements at a campaign stop in Jacksonville, Florida yesterday. “I would like everyone in the news media to look at the difference between the destructive, hostile, anti-civilization behaviors of the so-called Occupy Wall Street crowd and the serious studying of the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the federalist papers, and all the things the Tea Party is doing which are constructive, designed to get America back on track,” he declared. “They want to tear down our country, we love our country and we want to rebuild our country. That’s the difference.”
At one point, a Tea Party supporter asked Gingrich, “Do you have a directive — do you have a statement that you would make to that movement [as president]?” Gingrich unleashed on the 99 percent movement as “a strain of hostile people on the left organized across the country who believe in trashing things, believe in destroying things.” But some of the 99 percent movement in the crowd pushed back and tried to “mic-check” Gingrich who replied, “there is no such thing in America as the 99 percent”:
GINGRICH: There is a strain of hostile people on the left organized across the country who believe in trashing things, believe in destroying things. Who do they think paid for the park they are sleeping in? Who do they thing paid for the bathroom they want to use? Who do they think paid for the food they’re eating? America wasn’t created by people who woke up every morning saying, ‘You owe me.’ America was created who woke up every morning and said ‘I’m going to go to work and I’m going to do something positive, and I’m going to contribute.’ I think we ought to confront them head on. [...]
PROTESTER: The 99 percent…
GINGRICH: Hold On. I want to answer you very directly. There is no such thing in America as 99 percent! We are 100 percent Americans! We are all part of America!”
Watch it via Raw Story:
Regardless of what Gingrich claims, income inequality is a real problem dividing Americans. Since 1979, “the gaps in after-tax income between the richest 1 percent of Americans and the middle and poorest fifths of the county more than tripled.” While vital social services and public investments that help the middle class are being gutted, a tax code that gives the wealthy preferential treatment s solidifying this gap and only further hampering economic growth.
But perhaps Gingrich ignores this disparity because he is benefiting from it. According to financial disclosure documents, Gingrich was worth $6.7 million dollars in 2010 and as much as $30 million when including his financial interests. After all, not 100 percent of Americans can drop $500,000 on jewelry at Tiffany & Co.
Perhaps this is why he views social safety net programs as an example of government “taking from the overly happy and redistributing to the insufficiently happy,” and why his “Jobs First” plan put the wealthy and corporations first. We may all be part of America, but there’s definitely a portion he favors most.