Paul Krugman wrote yesterday that Republicans want to repeal the Great Society and the New Deal, but the way they talk, it sounds to me like they want to go much further. Listen carefully to what former Cheney aide and professional wingnut Mary Matalin said on the latest “Left, Right & Center” (audio ca. 4:15).
There is no small amount of empirical data to say we’re at the end of this hundred year, European-originated social democracy welfare state experiment…there’s current data and there’s century’s long data that says we cannot sustain this trajectory.
Matalin’s chosen time frame isn’t arbitrary.
1911 was before three of the right’s most hated institutions were established: the Federal income tax (1913), the Federal Reserve (1913) and the Estate Tax (1916).
1911 also happens to be the year of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, a tragedy that claimed the lives of 146 New York City garment workers and led to many progressive labor reforms.
And 1911 was the year the Supreme Court broke up the Standard Oil monpoly.
Basically, Matalin and her fellow Randoloids are the kind of people who read Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle and long for the good old days. They desperately want to return to the Gilded Age, before all those pesky anti-trust laws and union riff-raff and burdensome taxes ruined their country. Before government could tell businesses that they couldn’t employ children or sell rancid meat. Before most democracies decided that providing a modest social safety net at the expense of its wealthiest citizens was decent and made their societies stronger and more just.
They’ve been chipping away at the New Deal for decades. Now, they want the whole enchilada.