What the Kardashians and the Super Committee Have in Common

Congress flounders while middle- and lower-income families struggle.

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LAKEWOOD, COLO. — Maybe it's a Denver thing, or my own feeble protest against reality TV, but this weekend I signed the No More Kardashians petition started by a Denver woman, Cyndy Snider. The petition is now edging towards 160,000 signatures and the No More Kardashians Facebook page has generated well over 4 million page views.

Meanwhile, in another likely exercise in futility, the congressional "super committee" tasked with debt reduction after the House Republicans threw a tantrum six months ago has reached an unsurprising stalemate. Republicans are refusing to raise taxes, even on a tiny percentage the wealthiest Americans—those that make more than $250,000 a year—and using any number of feeble excuses to justify it.

What do these two things have in common? Because they both reflect a belief that wealth is its own reward and its own virtue. If we are just nice to rich people and keep cutting their taxes, prosperity will magically flow to the rest of us. And there's an argument as to whose marriage was more fake, Kim Kardashian's or the super committee's.

[See a collections of political cartoons on the deficit super committee.]

Back in the real world, half of American families live on less than $50,000 a year, about the cost of one Kardashian purse. According to Save the Children, for the $17 million Kim Kardashian collected for her pretend wedding, she could have educated over 250,000 girls in developing countries. After her divorce was announced, Kim Kardashian stated she "hoped people would respect her courage." Newsflash: Gabby Giffords has courage. You got married for a paycheck.

These are the people Republicans want to protect from increased taxes?

And in another alternate reality, it's become increasingly clear that the Republicans are determined to cling to the economic deadweight that is the Bush tax cuts until it pulls us all under. They're being used as leverage by Republicans on the super committee, as Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona admitted on Sunday's Meet the Press.  He also admitted that the Republican Senate offer was fake—any attempt to raise taxes would never pass muster with the hard-right House Republicans, the same ideologues who provoked the debt ceiling fight in the first place.

[Check out our editorial cartoons on the GOP.]

One of the reasons the Kardashians are still on the air is that the "show" plays to the delusion that rich people are inherently more entertaining and interesting than not-rich people. On the flip side, two of the greatest series in the history of television, The Wire and Friday Night Lights, focused on the nuanced and richly-textured lives of the people who live in the neighborhoods we see from the windows of the train and the towns we drive through on the way to somewhere else.

But the pain of our middle class isn't a TV show. Thanks to Republican truculence on taxes, our nation is in danger of irretrievably damaging the working class and middle class society that truly sustains us. Our economic policy needs to help the people sitting on the stoops of Baltimore row houses and playing catch in the backyards of Dillon, Texas, not the trust-funders in Los Angeles with the Hermes bag.

That's reality, not reality TV.

  • See a collection of political cartoons on the budget and deficit
  • See a slideshow of the 10 U.S. cities with the lowest real incomes.
  • See a slideshow of the 10 U.S. cities with the highest real incomes.