The answer I’d like to hear on middle-class economics:
When speaking about an infrastructure project (a water project, a dam), President Kennedy famously said, “a rising tide lifts all boats.” It was President Reagan, however, who re-purposed that quote, and slammed the accelerator to the floorboard on trickle-down economics. At the time, it was an untested economic theory – this idea that the wealthy prospering would mean everyone prospers. It’s 2015 now, and we’ve run that supply-side experiment for decades.
The data is undeniable, and the numbers are sickening. Call it “The Wealth Gap.” Call it “Income Inequality.” Call it “The Vulture Chart.” Call it “The Second Gilded Age.” Call it anything you like, but call it this: The death throes of the American Middle Class.
This is structural, people. This is not just globalization, or technology, or automation, or declining union membership. Those things matter, but what matters most is this: small-government zealots cutting the funding for anything and everything that supports working families, at the same time they shift the tax burden away from the wealthy, and onto the working.
No, this isn’t any one thing, but this is what comes of an economy structured around comforting the comfortable… and it’s a “new normal” that cannot coexist with The American Dream. One of these things has to go, and The American Dream is not that thing.
Reform Republicans – you know the type – don’t want to make employers provide a living wage by raising the federal minimum, or make the federal government do anything else that could conceivably help working Americans get ahead (like paid sick leave, or equal pay for women).
What do they want to do?
They want to shift taxes paid by the working middle class to the working poor in the form of expanding The Earned Income Tax Credit…
Wait for it…
… at the exact same time they want to cut taxes on the wealthy.
Republicans have been “starving the beast” for decades, and the beast is the American people they swore to serve. Democrats haven’t fought back hard enough. We failed to stop the experiment when the initial data looked terrifying. Almost everything our nation used to lead the world in, we’ve fallen behind on: education, infrastructure, health, quality of life, equality of opportunity… All of it has slipped away, and not from neglect. This was purposeful, and it is still happening. The modern Republican Party is committed to staying that disastrous course.
As Democrats, we have to turn this boat around, and we have to do it quickly, or The American Middle Class is sunk.
It’s time we demanded that the pimped-out yachts take up the floundering lifeboats.
We have to raise taxes on the wealthy, and we have to do it now.