GOP Candidates’ Clown Car hides Deadly intent to Enrich the Rich

By Karen Dolan | ( | – –

The GOP race may be a circus, but the candidates are dead serious about padding the pockets of the rich.

Is it me or are the GOP presidential debates getting more circus-like each time?

The CNBC “Your Money, Your Vote” debate began with this beauty pageant question: “What’s your greatest weakness?”

Who asks a bunch of narcissists that question and expects a real answer?

Well, the moderators of the debate did. If they somehow expected a strong crop of answers, they were sorely disappointed — hardly any of the candidates actually named one single weakness. From there on out, the ringmasters lost control of the circus.

But it’s not the moderators I’m worried about. What really scared me were the clowns on the stage.

In fact, these GOP candidates are why so many people find clowns terrifying. Each one is deadly serious about their plans to pad the pockets of the rich with tax schemes that twist their populist rhetoric into contortions worthy of Cirque du Soleil. It would be funny if it weren’t so alarming.

DonkeyHotey / Flickr

DonkeyHotey / Flickr

Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, along with sitting senators Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, wants a flat tax. Similarly, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee wants to swap out progressive income taxes for a highly regressive sales tax.

They employ populist rhetoric like “No hedge fund manager will pay less than his secretary,” or “Everyone gets a tax cut.” But a flat tax would generate massive tax cuts for the wealthy — and even a possible tax hike for those faring the least well in this rigged economy.

A 15-percent payroll or sales tax, after all, means a lot more to your bottom line than it does to a billionaire’s financial status.

Fired reality show host Donald Trump has trotted out plenty of populist rhetoric of his own. Yet after The Donald complained that “hedge fund guys” were “getting away with murder” on their tax returns, he rolled out a tax scheme that would cut taxes on the 1 percent by about $184,000 on average — compared to just $250 for the bottom 20 percent.

Jeb “Big Brother” Bush has also bragged about the fairness of his tax policy, which cuts taxes by $7 trillion over a decade. What he doesn’t tell you is that nearly half of those cuts go to the very wealthiest 1 percent.

Carly Fiorina finds tax justice easiest of all — just cut the number of pages of the tax code from 73,000 to 3, she says. She offers no further details, except that she’ll cut taxes and never raise them.

Even the clown who seems to have forgotten his red nose — Ohio governor John Kasich, the lone occasional voice of reason on the stage — has a tax plan that promises to balance the federal budget by choking critical social programs that keep tens of millions of Americans out of poverty.

Governing a country by giving more breaks to the uber-wealthy and hanging the rest of us out to dry is worse than a joke. It’s deadly serious.

Away with clowns. There ought not to be clowns.

Karen Dolan is a senior fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies and co-author of the report “The Poor Get Prison: The Alarming Spread of the Criminalization of Poverty.”


Related video added by Juan Cole:

The Young Turks: “Republican Candidate Tax Plans Cost TRILLIONS”

11 Responses

  1. Citizen Speak

    @cenkuygur I never understand why facts can be told to the right wing base and they keep their heads in the sand. Bunch of potatoes

    • You are expecting facts to mean the same to them as to other people. If your entire identity and reason for living is based on your “race”, “faith” or some other dog-whistle identity being the only ones fit to rule and judge the value of everything in existence, then all facts must be made to support that. In that case, those in your identity group who have the most money and power are seen not as your exploiters, but as your natural tribal chieftains, using their power to lead your people in a war against all the other kinds of people on Earth. The value you place on that war is greater than your short-term well-being, because you are certain that only by dominating others (by whatever mechanism your ideology worships) will you survive in the long term. You will tell yourself that everyone else is out to eradicate your culture and even your bloodline. This is a big deal with right-wingers.

    • A little dispatch from Red America – I live in a poor rural western community of 5000. The situation, just to listen to my neighbors (all of whom live in the Fox News Universe) and from what I know about the personal lives of the people in our town, is much much worse than people on the Left (myself included) imagine. Why?

      For starters, most of the kids in this community have kids themselves – they are becoming sexually active at 13, parents at 14, and dropping out of school by 16 (or earlier). The kids (i.e., parents) can’t do percentages, they can’t do fractions, they can’t do statistics. Economics and history? Forget about it. The value of art, music, or any aspiration to higher learning? That’s a great way to get beaten up or derided at the local school board meeting. Hell, our community is so mean-spirited and tight fisted that it voted a four day school week, the minimal allowed by state law, so it wouldn’t need to pay more taxes towards education (this in a supposedly solidly blue state). I used to teach in suburban Maryland in the DC area – the kids were as privileged, well dressed and well-heeled as any you might see in a wealthy suburban area; in the rural west, to walk into some elementary schools is like walking into a Russian orphanage – skinny kids in hand-me-downs with sunken eyes (in part, I suspect, because many parents in the area deem it acceptable to withhold food from kids as punishment). The highest aspiration of many of our kids here is not to become a doctor or lawyer or professor, but to work as a grunt at one of the local lumber or plywood mills (when they are hiring). There is a decided “poverty of low expectations” here – and I am guessing that this is typical of rural communities throughout the country.

      But it gets worse: there is, of course, zero respect for diversity, and racism is just a given. When the massacre in Charleston went down, the confederate flags came out (and I live in a northwestern state). There is a complete mistrust and hatred of the government (pronounced guv-mint), even though most people in our community depend on it or are retired from it. Anyone who reads is dismissed as “brainwashed” (!). The poor, women, and people of color are on the gravy train, and the rich, in the eyes of these people, are getting hosed (why they identify with the wealthy is beyond me – utterly beyond me).

      I have learned that there is just no point in having a discussion with these people about, well, anything, but I am spreading the word these days: talking will do little good, because you have nothing with which to work. One simple example as to how bad it is: I was regaled with the tale in the wake of a police shooting that 200 blacks and 200 whites each were killed by cops annually – so, this person asked, if the number is equal how can there be discrimination? To which I noted that, while that may be the case (and I can’t verify said statistic) African Americans only make up 8% of the population, so were disproportionately targeted. The response to this hard-core fact? “That’s your opinion”. Yeah, in the way 2 + 2 = 4 is “my opinion”.

      Let me repeat: There is simply nothing with which to work. And the politics of this nation simultaneously exploit and perpetuate this. These days, I am frankly at a loss.

    • Are you aware that Obama is black? I think you are confusing democrat with republican. Unless you are rich, republicans are not your friends.

  2. The noisy Republican clown car candidates are distraction for the lesser of two brothers.

    During the first brother’s maladministration, more wealth was accumulated by fewer people then at any other time in U.S. history.

  3. American

    @TheYoungTurks What an idiot! Rich have gained more under Obama. But yet you don’t protest his sorry ass.

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