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Wineke: Class war begins anew

By William R. Wineke, Special to Channel 3000
Published On: Dec 11 2012 05:01:28 PM CST

I'm not quite sure the cheering stopped after the last election before the class war erupted anew.

You see it all around, but most particularly in negotiations surrounding the "fiscal cliff" we will presumably all fall over on Jan. 1 if President Barack Obama and the Republicans don't find a budget compromise.

The president's opening salvo -- one he campaigned on not once but twice -- is to raise income tax rates for the richest among us.

The Republicans reply, as I understand it, is that the GOP will, with great reluctance, agree to tax the billionaires more, but, in return, it wants to cut spending on social programs and increase the age people are eligible for Medicare from 65 to 67.

The national press seems to think these are equivalent postures: make the rich pay more but balance that off by helping the poor less.

Why anyone thinks of these outcomes as being legitimate is beyond me. Why Republicans would not only allow themselves to be put in this position but would embrace it is utterly beyond my comprehension.

I mean, put the position on a bumper sticker and you will see what I mean: We're for the rich and the Democrats are for everyone else. Politically, it just seems like that might be a losing proposition.

Even if you agree the country is spending beyond its means, there are lots of ways to cut spending that don't involve adding to the suffering of the poor. You could, for example, ask why former General David Petreus once traveled to a cocktail party in Florida accompanied by 28 motorcycle police officers.

Nor do I understand the political advantage of calling for an increase to the Medicare eligibility age.

For people like me, it wouldn't be such a big deal. I am 70 years old and I still work full-time. I love working.

It is also true that I wear a jacket and tie to work each day -- which means, among other things, that I rarely lift anything heavier than a pencil.

If I were a bricklayer -- a job that means, among other things, that one carries bricks, normally outside -- I might not be so eager or even capable of working past the age 65.

In any case, raising the eligibility age doesn't decrease the cost of health care, it just shifts that cost to the recipient. Since there are more bricklayers than there are journalists or preachers, one, again, has to ask about the political viability of the Republican position.

I do understand that if one is going to be involved in class warfare, being on the side of the rich offers certain benefits, access to money being the chief benefit. If you're going to be in a war, it is better to be on the side with guns.

In the long run, however, this kind of war gets decided by ballots, not bullets. In that case, one might do better to choose the side with the most people.

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