Admitted: The Democratic Party Does Not Represent the Middle Class
Much of the success of the Democratic Party over the last eighty years has come from its ability to successfully portray itself as the party of the middle class. However, many of the major programs enacted by the Democratic Party have hurt rather than helped the middle class. Economic researchers and objective historians have shown this for decades; however, it is only in the last three years that the public has started to recognize this.
President Obama is still traveling across America claiming that his programs are for the benefit of the middle class. However, key Democratic strategists in a November 27 New York Times article laid out a 2012 election strategy that explicitly abandons middle-class voters. In a very frank admission, Democrat strategist Rury Teixeira, from the left-leaning Center for American Progress, states that "the Republican party has become the party of the white working class[.]" He and other Democratic strategists, including James Carville, are instead advocating a 2012 election strategy based upon creating a coalition of educated professionals and lower-income minority voters.
The educated professionals whom the Democratic Party hopes to include in this coalition are artists, college professors, social workers, and teachers. Not surprisingly, this list includes professions that tend to have very liberal views, as well as those employed by some form of government. Noticeably absent are the longstanding supporters of the Democratic Party: private-sector union workers. This may reflect the fact that for the first time, taxpayer-subsidized public-sector union workers outnumber their private-sector counterparts.
The Democratic strategy for 2012 also relies on those receiving government benefits for a significant portion of its voting power. This helps to explain why Democratic-sponsored legislation has focused upon expanding unemployment benefits and government health care at the expense of policies that will create jobs. As far back as FDR, one of the most successful Democratic election strategies has been to increase programs of dependency, even if those programs prevent economic recovery and result in increased unemployment.
The 2012 election strategy excludes middle-class Americans largely because Democratic-sponsored job-creation programs have failed miserably. The 800-billion-dollar Stimulus Bill was designed to provide continued funding of public-sector jobs rather than the creation of new private-sector jobs. While the Democratic sponsors of the bill promoted it as an infrastructure repairs bill, the infrastructure funding of the Stimulus Bill constituted less than 10% of the bill, and much of that was to subsidize energy upgrades for low-income households.
The Democratic voting strategy for 2012 may have excluded middle-class white voters, but the election-funding strategy will include one very important white middle-class group. Private-sector unions are predominantly white and middle-class. These unions are also historically among the most significant contributors to the Democratic Party. In fact, of the top-fifteen PAC contributors to the Democratic Party over the last twenty years, twelve are public- and private-sector unions. Since most unions' reason for existence is now based upon obtaining higher-than-market wages and benefits for their members, union survival is based upon Democratic policies like Prevailing Wages, Project Labor Agreements, and Closed Shop laws that force employers and taxpayers to pay above market wages and benefits.
As the number of private-sector union members diminishes, so do the contributions to pension and health care funds to pay retirees. Unions are increasingly dependent upon government programs like Obamacare to pay their retirees' health care benefits. PA Senator Casey has even proposed a bill to force owners of 401K funds into a government retirement plan to help subsidize the chronically underfunded union pension plans.
But while the Democratic Party can continue to count on labor unions for a significant portion of its funding -- because union members do not have a say in how their political deductions are used -- it may not be able to count on union members for votes. Recent surveys have shown that approximately 40% of union members vote Republican.
Of course, while the 1980's were characterized as the "decade of greed" by the liberal media, including Matt Lauer on the widely viewed Today Show, the facts are quite different. During the Reagan years, average incomes for all income classes rose. The average income for the poorest fifth of the population grew by 10.4%, the middle fifth by 7%, and the top fifth by 14%. Tax rates for the poor actually fell more than tax rates for the wealthy did. Although misguided, establishment of Earned Income Tax Credits meant that millions of people with low incomes paid no taxes and, in addition, got checks back from the government. During the 1980s, 16 million new jobs were created.
The events of the 1980s clearly demonstrate that the middle class benefits from government policies that promote prosperity rather than programs that promote dependency at the expense of prosperity.
The real question going into to the 2012 election is whether middle-class voters will see through the marketing efforts of the Democratic Party and its media supporters to recognize that policies of prosperity, not redistribution and dependency, truly help the middle class.