How Much of This Budget Standoff Was About Race?

Is there any question which side Team Obama is on? After rescuing the banks but letting homeowners drowned in foreclosure court, after choosing to flush our tax dollars down the hole in Iraq, Afghanistan (and now Libya) rather than rescuing schools about to pink slip teachers and jam 28 kindergartners in a room, Team Obama hands a massive tax cut to the wealthiest Americans (the only folks who didn’t get their nuts squeezed over the last 30 years) and takes a chainsaw to the programs that help Americans stay afloat after the corporate system chews them up and spits them out unemployed, injured and old.

So how is this about race? Isn’t this pure class allegiance? Isn’t this mostly about Team Obama satisfying its corporate patrons?

Yes and no.

Lee Atwater captured the driving animus of the conservative movement:

“You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968 you can’t say “nigger”—that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a by-product of them is blacks get hurt worse than whites. And subconsciously maybe that is part of it.”

The Tea Party rose to power inflamed by the notion that “those people” might benefit from “their tax dollars” under Obamacare. And they brought that energy into the House and called for massive tax cuts for rich folks and massive budget cuts for “those people.” Tea Party cadre assembled in DC last week to gleefully celebrate the looming governmental shutdown. Their moment of retribution had arrived.

Courtesy of the Center for American Progress -here is an infographic of what the budget cuts and tax cuts look like:

Of course this is really about perception. The elderly white tea party base is famous for their foam-at-the-mouth proclamations that “government should keep its hands off my Medicare.” Their racial animosity leads to the tragic result of self-inflicted foot shooting – because these white exurban and suburban senior citizens really are “those people.” The mechanism driving the misconception is the hidden nature of government. A couple of months ago Harpurs ran a hilarious article bringing together Madison Avenue types to brand US government. The problem is that Americans don’t notice what government does. They don’t have a visceral experience of how their tax dollars impact their lives. This was recently brought out by a disturbing study highlighted at the Monkey Cage. The chart shows how many Americans deny receiving federal support while at the same time receiving federal support. For instance over half the survey participants who received federally subsidized college savings programs said they didn’t receive any federal aid. The most mind blowing result was that 44% of those people receiving a Social Security check in their mailbox every month (delivered by the Federal postal system) denied they received any assistance.

Those people.









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One thought on “How Much of This Budget Standoff Was About Race?”

  1. The line “Their racial animosity leads to the tragic result of self-inflicted foot shooting” pretty much captures America since the Regan years.

    But then again I guess racism in the south prevented unions (those people can’t be my brother) from taking foot in the South which in turn kept every ones wages low. Oh well, so much for workers of the world unite.

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