In a curious column today, David Brooks asserted that Republican Party politicians are deeply concerned about the welfare of poor Americans, and that if liberals would just stop being mean to rich people the country could come together and help the poor:
"There is a growing consensus that government should be doing more to help increase social mobility for the less affluent. Even conservative Republicans are signing on to this. The income inequality language introduces a class conflict element to this discussion."...at least on its face, it doesn't seem to me that there is a consensus on helping the poor that's being disrupted by a controversy about the rich. It is true that Republicans think one major problem in America today is that the highest-earning Americans don't have enough take-home pay. And it is true that the GOP view on this is impelling them to propose a budget that reduces spending on middle class entitlement programs. But it's also true that Republicans want to cut spending on low-income people much more drastically than they want to cut spending on middle class people. We saw that with Paul Ryan's budget, we saw it with the House GOP proposal to cut food stamps, and we saw it in Mitt Romney's campaign proposals.
Vitus: For the Pro version of the daily Brooks takedown, see Dean Baker. Baker points out that Brooks starts with
"If you have a primitive zero-sum mentality then you assume growing affluence for the rich must somehow be causing the immobility of the poor, but, in reality, the two sets of problems are different, and it does no good to lump them together and call them 'inequality."Baker money quote: "Fans of arithmetic everywhere know that if the rich get more, and the economy is not growing faster, then everyone else gets less."