Monday, March 10, 2014

Curmudgeon V Curmudgeon

Kevin Drum cankily complains "If Democrats Want to Appeal to the Working Class, They Really Need Some Policies That Benefit the Working Class" He was ticked off by a genuinely nutso argument that the way to appeal to the working class is through environmentalism. I share his feelings. Especially "I'm feeling a little peevish."

The main point of the post here (emphasis mine)

Why is it that the working class often votes against its own economic interests? Well, let's compare the sales pitches of the Republican and Democratic parties when it comes to pocketbook issues:

Republicans: We will lower your taxes.

Democrats: We, um, support policies that encourage a fairer distribution of growth and....and....working man....party of FDR....um....

There are two problems with the Democratic approach. First, it's too abstract to appeal to anyone. Second, it's not true anyway. Democrats simply don't consistently support concrete policies that help the middle class. Half of them voted for the bankruptcy bill of 2005. They've done virtually nothing to stem the growth of monopolies and next to nothing to improve consumer protection in visible ways. They don't do anything for labor. They're soft on protecting Social Security. They bailed out the banks but refused to bail out underwater homeowners. Hell, they can't even agree to kill the carried interest loophole, a populist favorite if ever there was one.

My comments

I very much agree with this post. In particular I am sure that Democrats would win more elections if they were more populist and that they are influenced by campaign donors. I think what set you off (and what set me off) was the really nutso idea of switching the debate to the environment -- Democrats shouldn't change the subject from people's pocketbooks, because their position is more popular.

However, I'm grumpy too and your claims of fact are odd.

Now I get really grumpy, because I scrolled up to the post to get the word "virtually" and couldn't click back down in the comment box. Also disqus forces me to use internet explorer, because it doesn't work with my Chrome and I hate that. So grrr get off of my lawn and more comment below.

I agree with this post but your claims of fact are odd (and disqus is made me start over grrr). I note the ultimate weasel word "virtually" in your claim that Democrats' policies have marginally helped the working and middle classes. That is, you know the claim is false (virtually true = untrue).

I have a modified A and B

A) Republicans: "We will cut your taxes and we did if you ignore payroll taxes and no we don't just cut taxes for the rich; why do you think that you anti-Republican liberal; ohhh you are a declared George HW Bush supporter who just hit the yes button when Clinton said that in a debate (this happened). well it's unfair to say we only care about the taxes of rich people. Think of all the times we complain about the 47% (AKA the retired and much of the working class).

B) Democrats We cut your taxes, but then you voted for a RepublicanHouse and the House Republicans insisted they be raised right back up again.

Your list of policies does not include the Obama tax cuts in the ACA ARRA (update:oooops) then the partial payroll tax holidy. They happened. Under Obama the taxes of the working class were cut (until Republicans forced the cuts to be reversed). Under Reagan they increased (payroll tax increases being greater than income tax cuts). You haven't explained how the vast majority of US adults of all classes manage to not know about the simples possible tax cut. I'd say it is a gross failure of the news media to do their job.

In fact Democrats do sometimes run on "we will cut your taxes". Two examples are Clinton in 1992 and Obama in 2008. Hmm what do those two guys have in common ?

The ACA helps the working and middle classes by providing insurance insurance. Even people with employer provided insurance can't be sure that they will always have employer provided insurance. The ACA subsidies are available well up into the middle class reaching zero at an income about four thirds of the median family income. Here I think it is clear why the ACA hasn't convinced working and middle class Americans to vote for Democrats -- only half of poll respondents know about the subsidies at all. Also most of that half assume they are for low income people that is "those people." This is a sign of the power of the division of middle class vs poor (which of course has a lot to do with white vs black) and also a sign of a failure of the news media to do their job.

The ARRA helped the US working and middle classes both by increasing their chances of keeping their jobs (I'm not a US resident hence the third person) and by reducing the cutbacks in services provided by state and local government.

So I agree that Democrats are not egalitarian enough for their own political good. But you can avoid blaming the working class for deciding their are no pocketbook relevant differences between the parties only by ignoring the facts. You know better. You demonstrate it daily and non-virtually admitted it by typing "virtually."

update: and "next to". To not mention HAMP is to be kind to the Democrats but it sort of semi happened.

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