What Are Democrats Thinking?
At this moment in the political cycle Republicans are wondering if they are about to demolish the Democrats. And the Democrats are waking up to the possibility that President Obama might be leading them off a cliff.
So what are Democrats thinking at this critical moment? Let's take a look at a couple of recent efforts as both Jared Bernstein and Paul Krugman dutifully toe the president's class warfare line.
Jared Bernstein at Huffington Post wants the election to be about the fundamentals: the "role and size of government," fairness, and supply-side, deregulatory economics. But there's a problem. Voters are tuning out Democrats, as Stan Greenberg wrote back in July. They agree with progressive ideas, apparently; they just don't trust Democrats to deliver. So Bernstein announces that he'll rail at special interests, talk about fairness, and insist that Republicans "wrecked the car in the 2000s" as his contribution to the fight for progressive values in 2012.
Somehow, I have a feeling that voters in 2012 are going to be interested in three different issues. How about: Jobs, Jobs, Jobs?
The inimitable Paul Krugman has picked up President Obama's tax-the-rich message. He writes that "wealthy Americans, many of whom pay remarkably little in taxes," should be paying more to reduce the long-term deficit. While middle-income Americans have seen their income go up by 21 percent in the last 30 years, "the top 100th of 1 percent of the income distribution, rose by 480 percent," he writes.
Krugman uses data from the Tax Policy Center to amplify Warren Buffet's argument, that
one-fourth of those with incomes of more than $1 million a year pay income and payroll tax of 12.6 percent of their income or less, putting their tax burden below that of many in the middle class.
Of course, it's possible that these rich tax scofflaws are trustafarians, like the late Ted Kennedy, living off tax-exempt income from municipal bonds, dodging in and out of the AMT. On the other hand, given that the IRS SOI stats(xls) says that the top 0.1 percent of tax returns paid 22.7 percent of income in 2008 in individual income tax, that means that one-fourth of the very rich must be paying a lot more than 22.7 percent if Krugman's one-fourth is paying only 12.6 percent or less. By the way, you had to have an income of $1.8 million to qualify for the top 0.1 percent in 2008.
Maybe what we should be doing, before we whack the trustafarians and the Kennedy family with higher taxes, is figure out how to lower the tax rates on the rest of the very rich. Maybe if we do that the poor dears would free up some cash to create a few jobs for the folks laid off from crony capitalist Solyndra.
You get the impression, from reading Dr. Krugman on tax-the-rich, that Republicans are merely the bribed apologists of the rich.
Would it surprise you to learn that the voters aren't quite so sure about that? John Steele Gordon reports that in the 2008 election,
Obama won the votes of 60 percent of those with a family income under $50,000 and 52 percent of those earning more than $200,000. McCain carried the middle class.
The rich, at 52 percent, voted for Obama only slightly under Obama's winning 53 percent of the popular vote. Why would that be? Why wouldn't they be voting their pocket-books for the party of the rich, the Republicans?
Nobody doubts why the poor vote for Democrats. They are voting for their benefits. They know that the Democratic Party is the party of the little guy and the traditionally marginalized.
Maybe the rich are just like the poor, and vote their pocket-books too. If you figure that your average Millionaire Next Door owning a couple of small businesses votes for the Republicans, then that leaves the crony capitalists, the green energy promoters, the high-level government administrators, the academic grant recipients, and the trustafarians all voting for the Democrats and bigger government. Otherwise you wouldn't get to 52 percent voting for Obama.
That makes the Democratic Party the party of the poor and the crony capitalist rich.
What does that make the Republican Party? It is at least the party of the middle class. We know that because John McCain won the middle class vote in the middle of an economic meltdown. The middle class stands for limited government and low tax rates, in part on the principle that it cramps the style of class warriors and crony capitalists. That's because the middle class is nothing if it does not aspire to a better life for itself and its children.
Here's an idea. The Republican Party is the party of all those who must have freedom, rich, poor, and everyone in between.
What do you think about that, Messrs. Bernstein and Krugman?
Christopher Chantrill is a frequent contributor to American Thinker. See his usgovernmentspending.com and also usgovernmentdebt.us. At americanmanifesto.org he is blogging and writing An American Manifesto: Life After Liberalism.