It's not just politicians: Wealthy and powerful financiers regularly show a level of hubris that makes the pols look modest. They say a lot of ridiculous things on a regular basis, but my colleague Lauren Windsor broke a story this week that shows one of these masters of the universe, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, at his arrogant worst.
Despite the power of incumbency and the backing of the President, Rahm Emanuel nevertheless became the first mayor in Chicago history to be forced into a runoff. Emanuel's struggle to retain his office is a warning for politicians everywhere: Corporate Democrats are likely to find themselves on the defensive in 2016 and beyond.
It's certainly possible that the top tax rate in America is too high, but the fact that elected officials in charge of tax policy pretend that what the top 1 percent pay in federal income tax is reasonable proxy for fairness tells you all you need to know about how serious they are about fixing the problem.
The class bias of American politics has not only cost us our democracy. It has also cost us our jobs, our health, and our security. For years, the recovery was crippled by the politics of austerity, as a bipartisan coalition took a butcher's knife to the public sector, and as balanced budgets took precedence over basic needs.
Class war is precisely what we've been seeing for decades now -- but it's been waged for, not against, the wealthy. And Republicans have been its dutiful servants from the start. It might make a good hashtag, come to think of it: #RepublicanClassWar. The wreckage of this war can be seen all around us.
In a new Pew poll, more than three quarters of self-described conservatives believe "poor people have it easy because they can get government benefits without doing anything." In reality, most of America's poor work hard, often in two or more jobs. The real non-workers are the wealthy who inherit their fortunes. And their ranks are growing. In fact, we're on the cusp of the largest inter-generational wealth transfer in history. The wealth is coming from those who over the last three decades earned huge amounts on Wall Street, in corporate boardrooms, or as high-tech entrepreneurs. It's going to their children, who did nothing except be born into the right family.
In an America where, when it comes to the political system, the Supreme Court has now granted the dollar the full right to speak its mind, and ever more of those dollars can be found in the pockets of... well, not to put a fine point on it, plutocrats, we need a new (that is, old) vocabulary to fit our changing circumstances.