What Happens When The Tea Party Goes To Washington

Thom Hartmann

Dave Brat wants to bring libertarian economics to the U.S., and double-down on 33 miserable years of Reaganomics.  Yesterday, fresh off his primary upset of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, the Tea Partying Brat was interviewed by MSNBC’s Chuck Todd. Todd asked the Ayn Rand-inspired Koch Brothers-funded economics professor, “Where are you on the minimum wage? Do you believe in it, and would you raise it?”

After stumbling for a bit, Brat replied, “Minimum wage, no, I’m a free market guy. Our labor markets right now are already distorted from too many regulations. I think CATO estimates there’s $2 trillion of regulatory problems and then throw Obamacare on top of that, the work hours is 30 hours a week. You can only hire 50 people. There’s just  distortion after distortion after distortion and we wonder why our labor markets are broken.”

So, not only did Brat say he doesn’t believe in the minimum wage, he also implied that he’s in favor of continuing the Reaganomics policies that have destroyed our country, and destroyed the middle-class. Believe it or not, there was a time in America when the middle-class was booming, and when libertarian economics was just a pipe dream.

Before Reagan came to town, it was still possible for high school graduates to get a job right out of school, work hard, and make a life for themselves and their families. rosperity wasn’t just for the millionaires and billionaires; it was for everyone. For years, it was assumed that with a little hard work, you could live a very comfortable life no matter where you fell in the social ladder.

But then came the 1980’s and Reaganomics. Suddenly, all the economics talk was about “free markets”, “too much regulation”, and turning America into a libertarian paradise. That led to the unprecedented era of Reagan deregulation, which directly led to the stock market crash of 1987, which, until 2008, was the worst crash our country had seen since 1929.

And while Reagan was busy deregulating America, the predictable result was that the middle-class was becoming smaller and smaller, while the wealthy elite were getting richer and richer. 34 years of Reaganomics has gutted the middle-class, and destroyed an American economy that once worked for everyone.

The income gap in America has widened exponentially since Reagan took office and implemented the so-called “Reagan Tax Cuts.” Between 1947 and 1980, income gains were shared fairly equally between the wealthiest Americans and everyone else. But then everything changed.

The millionaires and billionaires began to take home more of our nation’s income gains, while income gains for working-class Americans flattened out. In 1980, the top 1 percent of Americans controlled 10% of annual U.S. income. As of 2007, the top 1 percent controlled 23.5% of annual U.S. income, and that number is only getting higher.

Between 1979 and 2012, the percentage increase in salary growth for the median American worker was just 5%, while growth for millionaire and billionaire executives was off the charts. As result, the share of the nation’s income going to the middle-class has been in a freefall for the past 30 years. In fact, even Dave Brat acknowledged that while American productivity has been off the charts for the past 30 years, wages have remained stagnant.

According to the Center for Economic and Policy Research, the federal minimum wage should actually be around $22 an hour if it had kept up with increases in worker productivity over the past three decades. Right now, 8.4% of Americans consider themselves “lower class.” That’s the highest percentage of Americans who consider themselves lower class EVER.

For the past 34 years, America has seen a continuous erosion of the middle-class, while witnessing a boom for the millionaires and billionaires.  What we are left with today is an America that Reaganomics built, and that Kochtopus-funded Ayn Rand-inspired economics professor Dave Brat, and the rest of his Tea Partying friends, want to preserve.

America did just fine for hundreds of years before Reaganomics and before Tea Partiers like Dave Brat were running around, preaching free markets and deregulation. Today, America may work for the wealthy elite, but it’s not working for everyone else.

It’s time to say enough is enough, and stop letting Tea Partying libertarians drive the agenda in Washington. We need to restore the economic policies of the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s that allowed all Americans to have an equal shot at success.

Originally posted at ThomHartmann.Com.

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