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The issue of class envy is frequently used by Democrats to gain political favor. So it comes as no surprise that it was frequently employed at a presidential primary debate sponsored by the AFL-CIO.

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Class Envy: Tool of the Left

The issue of class envy is frequently used by Democrats to gain political favor. So it comes as no surprise that it was frequently employed at a presidential primary debate sponsored by the AFL-CIO.

One topic which Democrats notoriously exploit is class envy. Liberals have found that the best way for them to score political points is to pit one group of people against another – blacks against whites, immigrants against citizens, poor against rich, labor against business.

The AFl-CIO-sponsored Democratic primary debate on Tuesday night was no exception. All nine Democrat presidential candidates — former Gov. Howard Dean (Vt.), Sen. John Edwards (N.C.), Rep. Dick Gephardt (Mo.), Sen. Bob Graham (Fla.), Sen. John Kerry (Mass.), Rep. Dennis Kucinich (Ohio), Sen. Joe Lieberman (Conn.), former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun (Ill.), and Rev. Al Sharpton — were there in Chicago pandering to Big Labor and begging for votes, often by fanning the fires of jealousy that many of the “have-nots” feel for the “haves.”

Here are a few of the lines where these liberals used class envy to attempt to stir up emotions and garner votes (with emphasis added).

Braun: I think we have to do it by, in the words of my late father, supporting the needy and fighting the greedy. The fact of the matter is that greed has driven the economic policy of this administration. Trickle-down economics does not work, has not worked, is not working. And we have to start off by reversing the trickle-down approach that they’ve taken, providing tax incentives and incentives for working people to get this economy going, to create whole new industries, to create jobs in new industries as well as protecting the employment in the industries that we have already.

Gephardt: This administration has declared war on the middle class in this country.

Dean: [Under the Dean plan] if a company could give health insurance and it doesn’t, then they lose all tax deductibility for senior executive compensation and senior executive benefits.

Kucinich: . . . tax cuts really are not a great moral cause. Tax cuts will still leave workers paying thousands of dollars in [health care] premium and co-pays.

Kerry: The federal government will pay for [universal health care] by taking back the tax cut George Bush gave the wealthiest Americans.

Edwards: Well, first, if we want to talk about one of the great moral issues of today, what about the people at the top of big corporations protecting themselves at exactly the same time they’re cutting benefits for working people? That’s one of the great moral issues of today. . . . We need pension parity so that people at the top can’t protect their own pensions when they’re cutting pensions for working people. We need to do something about CEO pay going up at exactly the same time that the value of the company is going down.

Graham: George W. Bush ran for president to be a unifier, not a divider. He has been anything but. He has divided us by economics. . . . What we should do is, first, we should secure the strength of Social Security. . . . We should do that by increasing the level of the payroll tax for higher income Americans.

Dean: What wealthy Americans should be doing is paying their fair share of the payroll tax. The Social Security cannot survive on its present track. And the solution to that is simply to make wage earners above $85,000 subject to the payroll tax.

Kerry: My friends, [the story of Honeywell is] trickle-down economics, and I believe every worker in America is tired of being trickled on by George W. Bush.

Gephardt: He gives these big tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans, but states are cutting services that are needed by the American people.

Sharpton: Mr. Bush did not give us a tax cut. He gave us a tax shift. Because by what he did, it forced property taxes to go up, sales taxes to go up. So he put a tax on working-class people so that the wealthy would not have to pay their fair share. As president, I would make sure that they paid their fair share. . .

Graham: Just last week he told us that by giving tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans we were growing the economy.

Edwards: George Bush comes from a different place. He comes from a place where the only thing people respect is wealth — where wealth is protected, not work respected. He comes from a place where opportunity is hoarded, not shared. He believes that somehow, if we take care of the people at the top, the whole country will do better. Well, that’s what’s caused tax cuts for people who don’t need them — fiscal irresponsibility. It is the reason this country is driving deeper and deeper into deficit every day. America deserves better. We deserve a president who cares about real problems for real people. I have real solutions. That’s what this campaign should be about. Corporate reform to protect workers and shareholders. Tax reform to get rid of tax cuts for the rich and keep jobs right here in America.

Gephardt: This president has declared war on the middle class, on labor unions, on working families. He only cares about the wealthiest. He doesn’t care about the people who are out there every day trying to raise their families, trying to make a living, trying to get ahead. This president must be defeated. He is not leading this country in the right direction. And he has declared war on the American people. I will beat him. I can’t wait to get into debates with him. I will show him for what he is, declaring a war on the people.

Sharpton: . . . we still see the gap between the haves and the have-nots.

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