Nightmare On Main Street

Since the Reagan presidency, the GOP has rightly earned the reputation as The Party of No:  as a rabid opposition party opposed to anything that President Obama and the Democrats propose that might conceivably benefit the middle class and the poor, The Party of No Way Jose;  and as The Party of No Ideas, whose answer for everything is simply more tax cuts for the rich and more deregulation of their corporate paymasters.

Concerned about being branded thus, GOP Whip Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Douchebaggery) boldy went where no Rethug had gone before, launching The National Council for a New America, a kind of roving think tank  to educate the masses about the superior ideas of the party. But a nasty thing called reality sneaked up and bit him on the ass:

Cantor’s GOP Ideas Factory Declared Dead A Year After It Launched
Justin Elliott, TPM
May 7, 2010, 8:48AM

It was supposed to be a GOP ideas factory that would fill the leadership vacuum on the right after Barack Obama’s landslide election. The National Council for a New America was supposed to be, in the words of founder Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA), “a conversation with the American people” to “develop innovative solutions that meet the serious challenges confronting our country.”

But, Roll Call reports, the group is now dead one year after it launched to what, in hindsight, appears to be excessive media coverage of an entity that hadn’t actually done anything.

“Republican Party plans comeback” declared CNN; “GOP recasts brand, sans wedge issues,” said Politico; “GOP Forms Ideas Coalition” said National Journal. In fact, there were no less than 5,000 positive media hits for the National Council for a New America, Cantor’s spokesman told Roll Call.

Despite all that, the national conversation never really happened. There was only one town hall meeting attended by GOP heavyweights, in Arlington, Virginia.

Roll Call reports that the Cantor camp is blaming “liberals” for killing the group:

“It’s very simple,” said Rob Collins, president of the American Action Network and Cantor’s former deputy chief of staff. “The NCNA dominated the national media so effectively that liberals in and out of Congress — including [Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington] — attacked it.”

So in their twisted version of reality, a relatively obscure public watchdog group like CREW is to blame, and not the growing public awareness of the havoc wreaked on their lives by thirty years of Reaganomics.  Regarding the latter, Meteor Blades at Kos has the details:

As Les Leopold notes in The Looting of America, the richest 1% of earners collected 8% of national income in 1973. “By 2006, the top 1% got nearly 23% of the pie, the highest proportion since 1929, ” he writes. Moreover, the richest 1% now earns more than the bottom 50% of Americans. During almost exactly the same period, the pay gap between the top 100 CEOs and workers rose from 45 to 1 in 1970 to Himalayan proportions in 2006, reaching 1,723 to 1, Leopold says, citing data from Forbes.

But one of the most significant and least-discussed elements in the stunning polarization of America is the extent to which rising productivity has become unhitched from the way that its rewards are distributed. Leopold lays out the astonishing data on this disparity:

By 2007, real wages in today’s dollars had slid from their peak of $746 per week in 1973 to $612 per week–an 18% drop. Had wages increased along with productivity, the current average wage for nonsupervisory workers would be $1,171 per week–$60,892 instead of today’s average of $31,824.
Our real average compensation is now about $25 per hour, including all benefits, representing a small increase from the early 1970s [in part created simply because of the sharp rise in health costs.] If it had risen along with productivity, it would be more like $41 an hour. The productivity bonus–about $16 an hour–is still AWOL.

Over roughly the same period, the ratio of household debt to income went from 55% to 127%, as Americans tried to make up for the loss of real wages with increased use of their credit cards.
American families have found themselves with vastly reduced time off the job, losing vacation days, sick time, and other leave. Until the recession hit, we were working the longest hours in the world.

What started out as The American Dream has become The American Nightmare, not that Democrats don’t share a large part of the blame. Clinton cursed us with NAFTA, GATT, the WTO, Bob Rubin and Larry Summers. Yet Dems at least seem to be dimly aware of their part in creating the social injustice that has turned Main Street into Elm Street, of their role in putting Freddy Krueger on the board of Goldman Sacks.

But not the Rethugs. They hold fast to their self-induced delusion that they, and they alone, know what’s best for America and the rest  of the world. There’s little the rest of us can do but stare in morbid fascination as they lie paralyzed in their beds, lucidly dreaming up new episodes of the ongoing American nightmare.

To borrow Keith Olbermann‘s  sign-off  line:  Good night, and good luck.

Those timid souls who can only keep up the struggle of life by the aid of continuous false illusions of success are doomed to suffer failure and experience defeat as they ultimately awaken from the dream world of their own imaginations.

-The Urantia Book


  1. These are sickening stats to be sure. I’m praying that the Teabaggers will split the vote of the rethugs and destroy the damn GOP altogether. One down and one to go. Maybe we can actually form something like rational parties in the future, but I’m not sure.

    1. Hey Sherry,
      Whether we’re here when it finally culminates, or on the next world watching updates on our home planet— the Republicans are dinosaurs on the verge of extinction, and that over-due death will cause new parties— maybe even a progressive party — to form.
      The UB says we’re “…on the march to a new and unrevealed destiny.” I can dig it.

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