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Tom Toles
Posted at 07:20 AM ET, 10/03/2013

Follow the money!

The Washington Post now begins a new era under new ownership, and it will be interesting to watch, and for some of us, to experience directly. The October 1st sale coincided rather eerily with the October 1st government shutdown. Things are, shall we say “unsettled.” We have received assurances about near-term continuity at the Post, and mid-term improvements. Long-term is a phrase that has no meaning in journalism. It is nice to receive assurances in a corporate transition, but let’s just say the history of such assurances is mixed. But since we can’t talk about the future of the Post, let’s talk about its past.

“Follow the money” is the most important phrase to come out of The Post’s storied Watergate years, and maybe in all of American history. It is my default guide to…well, just about everything in this country. I only wish the Post had put it on its masthead and made it our motto. I think we would have gotten coverage of the government right more often. And speaking of government, and the shutdown, let’s follow the money! Following the money is particularly useful when things don’t make sense on their face. Too few people benefit from the shutdown, the strategy seems fraught, if not disastrous, and yet it’s happening. Why? Follow the money. I don’t believe it when I read that the Republicans are held hostage against their will by an inexplicable populist fringe that came out of nowhere and can’t be dealt with. I think it came out of somewhere and I’ve said it before. I think it came out of an upper-echelon GOP strategy to get their tax rates down by whatever means necessary, and hold them down. They needed votes and a coalition, and the Tea Partisans where what there was. So the Partiers (even before they were called this) were stroked and stoked and encouraged and empowered, and funded, and in turn they provided the needed votes for tax cuts for the rich, inexplicable as that was for so-called ‘populists’ to be providing. Strange bedfellows.

Now the rabble are ‘out of control’ and the wealthy are in a bind. The wealthy send half-hearted messages to knock off the nutty stuff, but nobody’s paying attention. Why aren’t they paying attention? Because the rich still need this coalition, or else their taxes will get restored to reasonable levels, and that is something the wealthy can no longer bring themselves to even contemplate. Loss aversion and all that. So now they are in a bind, because they kind of would like the American economy to not shut down altogether. And now they face some hard choices. Just count me as unpersuaded that the titans of American wealth and power are helpless bystanders in this situation.

Okay, there you have a rather conspiratorial, thinly-sourced bit of rank class-warfare-like speculation. What do you have that explains things better?

By  |  07:20 AM ET, 10/03/2013

 
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