One of the most jaw-droppingly deft rhetorical reversals conservatives have ever accomplished has been to appropriate the term “class warfare,” which is being rolled out again as the Occupy Wall Street protests have finally made the people who matter nervous/annoyed.
Whenever the privileges of the 1% of the population who possess 40% of the wealth are questioned, we begin to hear that the criticism constitutes class warfare. Class warfare no longer involves what the rich do to everyone else. It is now exclusively about the threat everyone else represents to the rich.
Mitt Romney, who recently declared that “corporations are people too,” uses the term in the clip above. He also repeats another Republican talking point currently being endlessly repeated: “Half the people in this country don’t pay income taxes.” The reason they don’t pay federal income taxes is that they don’t make enough income. It certainly does not mean, as the point intends to suggest, that they pay no taxes. They pay lots of taxes, all of them regressive, like sales and payroll taxes. These are the only taxes conservatives seem to think are acceptable because regressive taxes literally cost them nothing.