So Mitt Romney has taken to giving speeches chock full o' sound bites for the Tea Party, invoking Cold War paranoia and demonizing people who, god forbid, need to use the social safety net during hard times. An excerpt (via Washington Monthly):
"[Obama] seeks to replace our merit-based society with an entitlement society. In an entitlement society, everyone receives the same or similar rewards, regardless of education, effort and willingness to take risk. That which is earned by some is redistributed to the others. And the only people to enjoy truly disproportionate rewards are the people who do the redistributing — the government."
What's remarkable about that quote, aside from the fact that it is ludicrously false, is that Romney and the rest of the Republicans seem hell-bent on destroying what little meritocracy is left in this country, and replacing it with aristocracy. Would Mitt be running for president today had his father not been CEO of American Motors and Governor of Michigan? What if George Romney had been a victim of corporate restructuring instead? Would Mitt still have joined Bain Capital, and would he still be passing on that cool $100 million to his sons? And the fact that son Tagg touts his interest in "private equity" in his Twitter profile... surely that's just meritocracy in action, having absolutely nothing to do with the Romney legacy whatsoever.
I really enjoyed drawing Mr. Perkins as Mitt, by the way. I think he plays the part well!
This cartoon, of course, references Grover Norquist's famous line about wanting to reduce government to the size where he could drown it in a tub, like some unfortunate critter. One concept anti-government types aren't too clear on is that waste is hardly unique to the public sector. I'm not saying government programs are necessarily more efficient than privately-run ones (although in the case of health care, public plans are massively more cost-effective). But money out of your pocket is money out of your pocket, whether it's going to the guv'mint or a corporation.
Posting this to the blog a bit late due to travel. I've been meaning to do this cartoon for years, and now happened to be just the right time. It has always bothered me that radical ideas are seen as mainstream because they are spouted by bald men in suits. Meanwhile, supporters of the New Deal -- a 75-year old set of programs -- get dismissed as wacky, dirty hippies.
For your extra amusement: while checking out the Hermès website, I came across -- I kid you not -- a $1,400 leather iPad holder. The 1% need only apply!
I wasn't sure which aspect of Cantor's comments, made at the Values Voter Summit in Washington DC, was more troubling: the hypocritical dissing of Occupy Wall Street protesters in language that could very well apply to the Tea Party, or the more general pooh-poohing of street protest in the age of Citizens United. When you have a Supreme Court that considers unfettered corporate cash to be "free speech" every bit as much as a protest sign scrawled with a Sharpie on a piece of torn cardboard, ordinary Americans are up against some tough competition in the political expression department. Maybe we could funnel money to fly-by-night front groups like the big boys if only we had decent-paying jobs. Until then, Mr. Cantor, I suppose we'll just have to be uncivilized.
On a purely artistic note, this was my first time drawing Cantor's bony skull-face. I knew this day was coming, and I'm pretty happy with how it came out. He and Rudy Giuliani should have a skull-face face-off. Not sure how that would work exactly, but I'd rather not think about it too hard.
For more on Cantor's ties to the financial industry (among other things, his wife was a VP at Goldman Sachs), check out this WaPo article.
This one was informed by this recent NYT article about a lovely new bipartisan plan to reduce the deficit. As though we're going to make up for the Bush tax cuts and trillion-dollar wars by selling off post offices. It's a market absolutist's dream come true.
The attack plan shown on the computer screen in the third panel is taken directly from the war room in "Dr. Strangelove." At least one reader thought I was depicting a military strike on Canada. It does look a bit like Canada, I have to admit. But fear not, northerly neighbors! That general is still fighting the Cold War. You're safe.
I drew this cartoon at the home of "Troubletown" cartoonist Lloyd Dangle while on a recent trip to the Bay Area for a comic convention. Lloyd, who recently retired his strip, did not seem to envy me one bit as I burned the candle at both ends to make my deadline.
In the midst of all the hand-wringing over deficits, it seems no one is bringing up the simple fact that the deficit will disappear if Congress does NOTHING. The entire debate is a crock of simmering crap, a thinly-veiled excuse for Republicans who don't give a damn about deficits to gut social programs. It's straight out of the GOP playbook. Run up massive deficits to starve the beast (see: Reagan, Bush Jr.), then squawk bloody murder when a Democrat is in charge, pinning the blame on them and forcing the Dem to clean up the mess (see: Clinton, Obama, Mark Warner as governor of Virginia). And no matter how irresponsible the Republicans are, or how cautious Dems are budget-wise, the grand narrative never changes. Dems are always characterized as big spenders, Repubs as pillars of fiscal probity. And when Dems point to loopholes like the private jet tax break, the Republicans' talking point is: "That's small potatoes. It would hardly make a dent in the deficit." Well, if it's no big deal, then why threaten to blow up the whole economy over it? And if minor expenses don't matter, why threaten to defund NPR over piddling chump change? These people are unserious frauds concerned only with dismantling the New Deal, and the media should treat them as such. Anyone -- and any cartoonist -- who takes these self-proclaimed "deficit hawks" at face value (especially that smug, dead-eyed, know-nothing doucheswizzle Paul Ryan) is doing a gross disservice to the public and to democracy itself.
Of course, Republicans can't stand the thought of having someone ethical and intelligent trying to help consumers understand their credit card bills and mortgages. God forbid Americans actually be informed about how they're being screwed. (I feel like I've said that before; I probably have.) I highly recommend the documentary Maxed Out, which features Warren, if you want to learn more about the grotesque predatory lending practices that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is intended to curb.
The "projectile incontinence" bit was inspired by a segment in Infinite Jest I recently read about a junkie going through heroin withdrawal. I think the projectile part was mine, but I'm not sure, so I'm going to give David Foster Wallace some credit here.
I don't have as much time to write about this under-the-radar issue as I'd like, but you can bone up over at the Wonk Room. For further reading, there's also this WaPo article and Sunlight Foundation piece.
To its credit, the Obama administration opposes the tax holiday, which was tried under the Bush administration with unimpressive job-creation results (let's just say it ain't the WPA). And it is a holiday, with rates dropping from 35% to around 5%. Would that we self-employed mortals had lobbyists fighting for such a sweet deal. TAX HOLIDAY FOR CARTOONISTS: BRING THE MONEY BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD!
Only in a nation that is truly ill-informed could Republicans block unemployment aid for millions unless the most fortunate among us get tax cuts, while simultaneously talking out the other side of their mouths about deficits burdening our children. All this while we live in a new Gilded Age of mind-blowing income inequality. It's almost too absurd to contemplate. But you knew that already. As for my thoughts on the Great Compromise: I think Obama could have used his rhetorical abilities to put the GOP on the defensive. But caution is his middle name (it has officially replaced "Hussein," in fact), and it's going to come back and bite him on the butt.
One almost gets the impression from the GOP that something is wrong with you if you're still doing actual, useful work (or would like to, except for the fact that there are five available workers for every job opening), as opposed to occupying the loftier realms of high finance. So I decided to play around with the idea of everyone becoming a banker. Related cartoon from 2004 (a personal fave): "The Labor Chain"