Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) isn’t exactly going out on top of his game. The far-right Arizonan is wrapping up his lengthy congressional career this year, but he’s departing on the heels of several sour notes, which have made him appear, at various times, dishonest, confused, and obstinate.
But Travis Waldron noticed Kyl’s remarks on the Senate floor yesterday, which were odd, even for him.
After calling President Obama’s focus on the middle class “misguided and wrong and even dangerous,” Kyl argued:
“[W]e have a president who talks incessantly about class, particularly the middle class (1). Maybe you’ve noticed that. He defines class strictly by your income (2). In the president’s narrative, someone who makes $199,000 a year is a member of one class and someone who makes $200,000 belongs to another class. Does that make sense? (3) Indeed, each day the president’s out on the campaign trail championing himself as the great protector of what he calls the middle class and pitting these Americans against their fellow citizens by arguing that the wealthiest class is victimizing them through the tax code (4).”
I’ve annotated the paragraph because it’s a sentiment so strange, it’s worth considering in more detail.
(1) The Senate Minority Whip is whining that the president talks too much about the needs of the middle class. As political criticisms go, I don’t think I’ve ever heard this one, and I have a hunch Obama and his supporters hope other Republicans subject the president to the same attack.
(2) Well, when we’re talking about economic classes, using income levels to help define different groups seems rather sensible.
(3) Does it “make sense” to set income plateaus to set income tax levels? Of course it does. Kyl himself has long supported different levels of taxation for different income groups.
(4) Obama has never said the wealthy are “victimizing” the middle class. As he too often does, Kyl made this up.
Still, I wouldn’t be too surprised if the president inserted a new line into his stump speech: “A member of the Republican leadership complained recently that I’m too focused on the needs of the middle class. I plead guilty as charged.”