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Media Matters: Asymmetrical Class Warfare
By Indy Media / filmsforaction.org
Mar 1, 2009
The media are outraged at the "class warfare" supposedly present in President Obama's budget plans. In the past few days alone, Michelle Bernard said Barack Obama "was almost declaring class warfare" in his speech to Congress; CNBC's Carlos Quintanilla said, "I don't want to call it class warfare, although that's what it may end up being in the end, this debate over wealth redistribution"; the AP's Jennifer Loven asked White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, "Are you all worried at all that that kind of argument, that 'class warfare' argument could sink the ability to get some of these big priorities through?" Politico ran a Jeanne Cummings article headlined "Class warfare returns to D.C." And this afternoon, MSNBC joined the pile-on, with a segment asking: "Is there a war against the wealthy? Do we have a class war developing?"

What sparked this sudden concern about "class warfare"? President Obama indicated that in order to fund things like health care, the very wealthiest Americans (individuals who make more than $200,000 and families making more than $250,000) might have to pay slightly more in taxes, via the expiration of President Bush's tax cuts for those earners. Under this plan, the wealthiest Americans (again, those making more than $200,000) would be subject to the same income tax rate they paid in the 1990s -- when, it should be remembered, the rich got richer and the economy did quite well.

If this plan -- raising taxes slightly on people who make more than $200,000 a year in order to pay for things like health care for people who don't -- sounds familiar, it's because Obama campaigned on it for roughly two years. Conservatives, amplified by the news media, ridiculed it with labels like "socialism" and "class warfare" and used all kinds of scary rhetoric. And the American people voted for it anyway.

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Media Matters: Asymmetrical Class Warfare