If you are a Republican, one of the first things you will say is how the poor have been lazy, welfare is damaging our country, that some have gotten benefits that you have not. You work hard and resent the hell out of it. Socialism is your fear.
If you are a Democrat, fascism is what you worry about, and the problem will be the top has gotten all the benefits, that their greed, has caused the stock market problems and they are not caring about the workers under them. They are taking too big a piece of the pie already, what do you mean a bail-out or more tax cuts for them?
Democrats say a rising tide lifts all boats.
I am not sure how many in the States are aware of the massive government 'welfare program' that Alaska has. It was $2000 per citizen (this is not per family) reverse state income tax, paid for by the oil companies and you at the pump. Under Sarah Palin, oil corporation taxes were further increased (make you feel good when the dollars are spinning around at each fill up?) and another $1200 per citizen has been added to that. Manna from the government is sooooooooooo bad... unless you get it?
McCain is proposing tax rates to further lower taxes on the highest incomes. You know who says that's good. Greenspan said it's not good because we are borrowing to do it; but hey what's a little borrowing? We have gotten good at it and are evidently about to get a lot better. The argument against progressive tax rates is why should the rich be punished just because they were successful. Republicans worry so much about the welfare of the rich.
Obama promises more tax relief for the middle class; but the fear that some might trickle down is causing many Republican voters to not care. They want it going to the richest. Maybe they figure they will be there someday. I am not sure of the reasoning but leaving behind the bottom is fine with them because those people are poor due to not working enough-- and so it goes.
Yes, the richest do pay the most taxes. They also have the most money to do it (even more after these last years). Most of the wealth in this country is controlled by the top 1% of the people. We are increasingly seeing a nation of haves and have nots. Does this matter?
One of the things that the Obamas did in their Republican derided community organizing work was to get young people into mentoring programs to help them rise up out of poverty. This is the goal of many groups like AmeriCorp who aim to get work for someone, with community paying the salary for awhile which then enables them to find their own jobs after a year or whenever the contract period runs out.
There is a saying and Republicans love it. Hand a man a fish and he only eats it, but teach him how to fish and he has the ability to get more for himself. This is the goal of Barack Obama. He has put his work into it for years and now hopes to bring his ideas to the whole country. It is why Democrats favor him while Republicans don't get it. They see this as possibly rewarding the bad guys (welfare moms) while taking it from them.
Some of their fear might have been justified in the past but in 1996, Clinton and a Republican controlled congress changed how welfare worked. Today there is a program called Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act which put on a lifetime benefit of 5 years for receiving aid. AFDC was replaced Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).
My niece benefited from this change as it took her (a welfare mom) out and gave her training in a business that received temporary help from the government. It taught her skills the workplace could use, and helped her go out where she began to earn a salary no longer government subsidized. Today, she has 6 kids (all from the same dad in case you wondered); so probably still gets food stamps. I haven't asked about that, but I know she has pride in herself for holding down a job which is teaching her children more positive values by seeing their mom earning the money that supports their family.
We avoid one generation after another of being on the dole by strict requirements for who gets welfare and through job training programs-- ideally excellent public education systems. For those who say private schools are best, they would leave behind the kids with parents who don't care. Can you see the problem eventually with such a system? If all that reaches you is self-interest, think crime. We already have one of the highest prison rates per capita. That's not cheap either.
Today Democrats advocate helping people for a period of time (except those who are handicapped), job training, and quality public education. Obama talked about this in his debate last week. Don't overly tax the middle class, help them to have more success, build infrastructure, and provide effective public education. It is why those of us, who believe we have to start at the bottom and it will rise up the whole ship, support him.
I understand the logic of thinking the rich will help others. It comes out of men like Andrew Carnegie, who built libraries across this nation to encourage literacy. It comes out of those like Bill Gates who provide computers to all schools. Wealthy people fund a lot of the investments in research and new development. Someone like Warren Buffet, with his many billions, has much of that money invested in the economy helping new ideas grow; and if he chooses those investments wisely, his own wealth.
It is not the same for all wealthy (anymore than it is for all poor). Some have made their fortunes through building products and creating something real. Others, however, have been into trading paper with no concern for a product or who gets hurt so long as they get their money out first. For people like that, regulation is essential. For someone like Warren Buffet, his own ethics would regulate what he did. Not all wealthy are bad guys but not all are good.
We have seen the results of bad planning for Democrats during the Johnson years where handing out money didn't work to change people's lives. We have seen the results of bad planning during the Bush years where some took advantage of a lax and unenforced system. The answer, in my mind, is a little of both ways of thinking accompanied by regulations that encourage good lives and jobs. Business needs regulation because some will abuse it if it isn't there.
Rise everyone up through their own labor, and we will all be better off. Forget those at the bottom because you aren't sure what would make a difference and you will pay the price other ways.
Here are some sites to read for further information:
Paul Krugman on who should get the 3 AM call on the economy
Obama on taxes and economy
Tax cuts offer most for rich, study says
Retirees taking the biggest hit with this troubled economy