Archive for March 8th, 2005


Today’s excellent-as-always Krugman column focuses on the godawful bankruptcy bill poised to pass in the Senate, and its conspicuous and unsurprising favoritism of the rich over, well, everyone else.

One increasingly popular loophole is the creation of an “asset protection trust,” which is worth doing only for the wealthy. Senator Charles Schumer introduced an amendment that would have limited the exemption on such trusts, but apparently it’s O.K. to game the system if you’re rich: 54 Republicans and 2 Democrats voted against the Schumer amendment.

Other amendments were aimed at protecting families and individuals who have clearly been forced into bankruptcy by events, or who would face extreme hardship in repaying debts. Ted Kennedy introduced an exemption for cases of medical bankruptcy. Russ Feingold introduced an amendment protecting the homes of the elderly. Dick Durbin asked for protection for armed services members and veterans. All were rejected.

Krugman then goes on to frame this as part of the larger pattern of “ownership society” being used as code for “You’re on your own, kiddo.” This is, of course, appalling, but it is also an opportunity, if the Democrats have the sense and spine to seize it. Now that they have a stranglehold on power, the Republicans are going for the gusto because they can, without any thought to consequences. Basically, their mindset is “Let’s repeal as much New Deal/environmental foolishness as we can before the grownups come back.” What the Democrats must do is aggressively remind voters in 2006 and 2008 just how the Republicans voted, where their priorities were, and how their rhetoric was applied differentially to the rich and the everyone-else.

Essentially, what I would like to see are commercials where we see Bush or Republican Candidate A pontificating about personal responsibility, and then we hear about how Republican Candidate A voted to shield the rich from the full brunt of bankruptcy laws while making sure veterans and Grandma Millie get no loopholes at all. Or Bush/Republican Candidate B talking about the ownership society,followed by a reminder about how Republican Candidate B tried to undermine Social Security. Or any number of examples of government social programs being depicted as havens for freeloaders that must be purged of “waste, fraud, and abuse”, contrasted with generous subsidies, tax breaks, and preferential treatment for the rich and corporate. And if the Democrats can drive home the statement that Republican values are corporate values, then so much the better.

Oh, and if someone wants to use the same strategy in a primary run against Tim Johnson and Ben Nelson, who voted with the Republicans to shoot down some of the Democratic amendments to the bankruptcy bill, well, I won’t stop ’em. Fine, they’re red state senators who have to vote like Republicans to stay alive. But if they vote like Republicans, what earthly use are they to the Democratic party? Democrats can make inroads in the red states if they go populist and paint the Republicans as the party of the corporate fatcats against the little guy. This will be even more effective if the Republicans’ corporate-friendly policies continue to run the economy into the ditch. Especially since those policies are always rationalized as “economic stimulus”, so if they fail on that level, then they are revealed as get-while-the-getting-is-good corporate giveaways.

13 comments March 8th, 2005 at 05:49pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Corruption/Cronyism,Democrats,Politics,Republicans,Social Security,Taxes,Wankers

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