Back on Their Heels After the 99 Percent Fight Back
What a difference two and a half months makes. The 99 Percent movement is now part of our culture, is changing the narrative, and is here to stay. The New York Times looked at just one example of the impact the movement is having:
Protesters have succeeded in implanting “We are the 99 percent,” referring to the vast majority of Americans (and its implied opposite, “You are the one percent” referring to the tiny proportion of Americans with a vastly disproportionate share of wealth), into the cultural and political lexicon. […]
Perhaps most important for the movement, there was a sevenfold increase in Google searches for the term “99 percent” between September and October and a spike in news stories about income inequality throughout the fall, heaping attention on the issues raised by activists.
“The ‘99 percent,’ and the ‘one percent,’ too, are part of our vocabulary now,” said Judith Stein, a professor of history at the City University of New York.
GOP Tries to Message Away the 99 Percent — Because the Movement is Having an Impact
At a retreat with Republican governors, Republican message guru Frank Luntz expressed his concerns at the growing power of the 99 Percent:
I’m so scared of this anti-Wall Street effort. I’m frightened to death.
In response to his fears, Luntz held a seminar to instruct Republicans on how to discuss the issues the 99 Percent have elevated. Here are some lowlights of Luntz’s anti-99 Percent newspeak:
1. Don’t say ‘capitalism.’
“I’m trying to get that word removed and we’re replacing it with either ‘economic freedom’ or ‘free market,’ ” Luntz said. “The public . . . still prefers capitalism to socialism, but they think capitalism is immoral. And if we’re seen as defenders of quote, Wall Street, end quote, we’ve got a problem.”
2. Don’t say that the government ‘taxes the rich.’ Instead, tell them that the government ‘takes from the rich.’
“If you talk about raising taxes on the rich,” the public responds favorably, Luntz cautioned. But “if you talk about government taking the money from hardworking Americans, the public says no.Taxing, the public will say yes.”
3. Republicans should forget about winning the battle over the ‘middle class.’ Call them ‘hardworking taxpayers.’
“They cannot win if the fight is on hardworking taxpayers. We can say we defend the ‘middle class’ and the public will say, I’m not sure about that. But defending ‘hardworking taxpayers’ and Republicans have the advantage.”
Some unsolicited advice for the GOP: the 99 Percent and our economic problems can’t be dismissed
One Percenter Piles On: Tax the Rich to Help the 99 Percent — The Real ‘Job Creators’
When it comes to protecting the wealthiest Americans from having to pay their fair share, the GOP usually trots out one of two euphemisms for the wealthiest Americans: “small businesses” or “job creators.” (Neither of which are really valid, by the way.)
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), for example, explained yesterday why 345,000 millionaires shouldn’t have to pay a very small surtax on their income above $1 MILLION in order to prevent a tax increase on 160 MILLION Americans:
We just think we shouldn’t be punishing job creators to pay for it. The Democrats can say they just want some people to pay a little bit more to cover this or that dubious proposal. Think about that. The Democrats’ response to the jobs crisis we’re in right now is to raise taxes on those who create jobs. This isn’t just counterproductive. It’s absurd.
In a must-read op-ed on Bloomberg News today, successful entrepreneur and bona fide member of the 1 Percent Nick Hanauer destroys the Republican argument:
I’m a very rich person. As an entrepreneur and venture capitalist, I’ve started or helped get off the ground dozens of companies in industries including manufacturing, retail, medical services, the Internet and software. I founded the Internet media company aQuantive Inc., which was acquired by Microsoft in 2007 for $6.4 billion. I was also the first non-family investor in Amazon.
Even so, I’ve never been a “job creator.” I can start a business based on a great idea, and initially hire dozens or hundreds of people. But if no one can afford to buy what I have to sell, my business will soon fail and all those jobs will evaporate.
That’s why I can say with confidence that rich people don’t create jobs, nor do businesses, large or small. What does lead to more employment is the feedback loop between customers and businesses. And only consumers can set in motion a virtuous cycle that allows companies to survive and thrive and business owners to hire. An ordinary middle-class consumer is far more of a job creator than I ever have been or ever will be.
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