Watching the GOP presidential contenders rake the smiley-faced, undocumented-alien-shooting Herman Cain's loopy 9-9-9 tax plan over the coals last night, William Saletan had this interesting observation over at Slate today. Republicans are not as immune from class warfare as they pretend. Consider the line of attack that all of them adopted against Cain (with the exception of Michelle Botox Bachmann, who, bless-her-soul, engaged in reverse class warfare, pledging to tax the poor so that they too can pay their fair share for all the great things that this great country provides).
Take Santorum. Slaten notes:
[He] cited an analysis by the Tax Policy Center, which concluded that the plan would cut taxes on the top 20 percent of earners but raise taxes on the bottom 80 percent. Santorum objected: "When you don't provide a standard deduction, when you don't provide anything for low-income individuals, and you have a sales tax and an income tax and, as Michele said, a value-added tax, which is really what his corporate tax is, we're talking about major increases in taxes on people."
And then Ron Paul:
"The worst part about" Cain's plan, he argued, was that "it's regressive. A lot of people aren't paying any taxes, and I like that." The 9-9-9 plan, Paul repeated, "is a regressive tax."
And then Mitt Romney:
"I want to reduce taxes on middle income families," he told Cain. "Middle income people see higher taxes under your plan. If it's lower for the middle class, that's great. But that's not what I saw."
This certainly smacks of class warfare. But does this mean that the Republicans are being their usual contradictory and hypocritical selves? Not necessarily. It's one thing to engage in class warfare to protect the income of the poor from the tentacles of the government and quite another to extend those tentacles into the pockets of the rich just because they are rich. The first involves protecting the poor from legalized robbery. The second involves engaging in legalized robbery against the rich.