By Jason Newell:
With the 2016 Presidential Election just around the corner, we thought that it would be best for us to analyze the statements of Stupidparty presidential candidates, and Stupidparty leaders as well—welcome to “Stupidparty Fact Check.” Statements will be judged based on the following “truthfulness scale”:
One Dunce Cap is a statement that is mostly true.
Two Dunce Caps is a statement that is somewhat true.
Three Dunce Caps is a misleading, inadequate, or distorted statement.
Four Dunce Caps is a statement that is mostly fabricated.
Five Dunce Caps is an outright lie.
Quick note: the statements chosen will not only be confined to present or future statements—we will also be digging up old statements if considered applicable.
Darrell Issa (R-CA)
“We been able to make our poor somewhat the envy of the world…If you go to India or you go to any number of other Third World countries, you have two problems: You have greater inequality of income and wealth. You also have less opportunity for people to rise from the have not to the have.”
Here we go again, another rich, financially privileged Republican has attempted to bypass America’s glaring issue of poverty by comparing our plight to Third World Countries – this coming from a man with an estimated $460 million dollars in wealth. Basically, if “us plebeians” earn enough to afford a flat screen TV, NFL Sunday Ticket, and a used car from Shady McShady’s car lot, we should just keep our spoiled little mouths shut
Come on Mr. Issa, get real: comparing America’s poor to that of Third World Countries is simply unfair – why not, for the sake of reasonable argumentation, compare America’s poor with the developed world? And, by the way, the possession of “envied” materials doesn’t tell the whole story; issues like social mobility, wealth inequality, access to health care, and access to a higher education should all be incorporated into his statement.
The truth is: the American Dream is fading into oblivion; unless America adopts more redistributive policies that increase access to post-secondary education, reduce barriers to higher levels of unemployment, and make corporate America actually pay a positive tax bill, this trend may continue. However, I doubt Citizen Kane—oh wait, I meant Darrell Issa—believes that American wealth inequality is a consequence of policies enacted by the Republican Party. I assume that his solution to the problem of wealth inequality will involve tax cuts for wealthy individuals who really don’t need them—Policies that have only caused an exponential rise in wealth accumulation for corporate America.
In actuality, focusing solely on income does a disservice to the real struggles facing America’s poor. The real question is: what is America doing to try and alleviate the problem? If you take a look at the chart, you can see that America, when compared to other developed nations, has lower than usual cash transfer programs, around 1% of GDP. And, as we all know, our conservative friends will try to create an excuse by invoking the weak argument of food stamps draining public coffers—when, in reality, food stamps represent only .5% of America’s GDP. So, what this demonstrates is that America is not doing enough to increase the economic standing of families residing within poor socioeconomic brackets.
More important, America has the highest rate of wealth inequality in the developed world according to the GINI index:
Issa’s comment should also be criticized for refusing to acknowledge the discrepancy in income between races:
While the average American family earns more than most other countries, the numbers are inflated by White and Asian incomes; if one were to average African-American and Hispanic incomes, the notion that Americans are more well-off than the rest of the world would be less cogent. Moreover, the median net worth of households is being immensely inflated by White Americans:
So one must be cautious when making a comparative analysis that refuses to include poverty from a racial perspective – by the way, my criticism applies to all politicians that repeat similar talking points. If race is disregarded as a factor, policies may end up having less of an impact on improving conditions within minority communities – these stats bring credence to the belief that policies should be more narrowly tailored to help impoverished minorities.
Access to health care is another factor that should be considered. The following is a map that pinpoints countries with universal health care:
Numerous developed countries have implemented universal health care, i.e., a government run option—an option that was quickly attacked by the insidious interests propping up the Republican Party. Nonetheless, to Obama’s credit, his administration successfully passed the Affordable Care Act, which has greatly expanded access to health care. (A plan ironically inspired by the Heritage Foundation’s attempt to provide an alternative to HillaryCare.) And despite the fact that the Affordable Care Act expanded coverage, many conservative states still refuse to expand Medicaid access, leaving millions of poor Americans uninsured. Because of this, America’s poor is still not on par with the developed world in this respect; this is exactly why America’s poor should not be “envied” in terms of health care access.
And again, Republicans like Issa will advocate for more tax cuts for both wealthy families and corporate America, but what his minuscule brain fails to realize is the fact that the money is, for the most part, being hoarded:
The policies instituted by Issa and his cronies, such as the Bush tax cuts, have mainly contributed to the ever-increasing wealth gap. As seen above, even shareholders are experiencing the greedy nature of corporate America, whereby profits at the top don’t trickle down in the manner envisioned by proponents of this economic paradigm. And how can aloof politicians like Issa, who advocate for these charlatan-esque policies, continue to believe that the scraps from the sharks will sufficiently feed the bottom-dwellers? Repeating these failed policies is the definition of insanity.
Without a thorough, fair analysis, arguments fall victim to jaded perceptions, which is exemplified by Issa’s statement. And sadly, the implication that should be drawn from this word vomit is that America’s poor are spoiled and propped up by Democratic nannies. This couldn’t be farther from the truth—with a more balanced comparative analysis, one can see the striking differences between advanced nations, classified as developed, and the US in terms of the standard of living. America has lagged behind similar to a neglected operating system: the system itself is advanced, but the much needed updates are yet to be downloaded.
In the end, Issa’s comment is a sad attempt to deflect responsibility by citing an inadequate comparative argument—one that seeks to shield America from objective criticism. Sadly, statements like these seek to justify America’s poverty crisis without actually searching for the root of the problem. But maybe, I’m expecting too much from an individual who has his sympathy stifled by copious amounts of money—is he really capable of understanding the issue of wealth inequality when he himself is part of the problem?
So, to be kind, Issa’s comment deserves three dunce caps because it’s truly inadequate—drawing parallels between the US, the richest nation in the world, and the Third World, is a deceiving comparison. Who knows, Mr. Issa is probably suffering from a debilitating case of affluenza. The symptoms include, but aren’t limited to (via WebMD): 1) a decrease in overall cognitive function; 2) a stuffy nose caused by dollar bills ($100 bills) obstructing the naval cavity; and 3) a tendency to label the struggles of poor citizens as being a consequence of a lack of initiative.