February 04, 2007
Schumer: Dems Can Ride Middle-Class "Angst" Into White House

The Seattle Times today runs a four-day-old WaPo piece showcasing the not-so-yeasty thoughts of Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.). He seeks "a cure for middle-class angst that will carry Democrats into the White House." Too bad his "face" of the issue is a fictional middle-class couple named Joe and Eileen Bailey.

Democratic nostrums have been sparse so far, the story notes: bills to cut college loan interest rates; raise the minimum wage (this is a "middle-class" issue?); and spill more red ink by cutting Medicare prescription drug costs.

Schumer's colleague, Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), chair of the House Ways And Means Committee, says, "the middle class are scared to death they could become poor." But WaPo writer Lori Montgomery notes:

By any measure, the middle class is not becoming poor. But it has stopped getting ahead quite so rapidly. In the 15 years ending in 2004, median household net worth grew by 35 percent in the United States, with all income groups showing increases, according to a recent report by the Council on Competitiveness. But wages in the vast majority of households increased by less than 15 percent when adjusted for inflation, while the top 20 percent had increases twice that large in the 20-year period ending in 2005.

So the rich are getting richer, and the less-rich are getting richer too, just under 15 percent, adjusted for inflation, in "the vast majority of households" from '85 to '05. Not to mention, as Montgomery reports, that some experts believe consumer spending is a far better measure and that's more evenly distributed than income.

Here's what Joe and Eileen and Chuck need to get. People are responsible for making their own way in the economy and the vast majority of the electorate understand that. It is not government, but parents who can ensure their children learn the value of education, hard work, and ambition. Which all translate into economic security. The national Republican bloodbath of last fall, entirely deserved, was not an endorsement of Democratic big government, or Big Government Democrats. It was tied not only to dissatisfaction with Iraq, but also spending bloat and loathesome instances of corruption under a Republican Congress.

As for the road to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., the winning candidate will have to articulate compelling strategies to: 1) transition out of Iraq with a high likelihood of non-violent self-rule after our departure; 2) forcefully and strategically address international security threats posed by Iran and North Korea; 3) surgically but significantly cut federal spending; and 4) encourage but not subsidize development of alternative energy sources, while steering a rational and truly science-based middle course on global warming and other environmental concerns.

Ds will not capture the presidency dancing to the dated class-warfare jive of New York Democrats, nor by running one for the office. An urban liberal rookie Democratic senator from Illinois who talks rapprochement but votes party-line liberal cannot win either, not even if he is black and "articulate" and "bright" and "clean" and "nice-looking." The real sleeper Democratic presidential candidate - a guy who could take the South, the increasingly vital inland West, and actually win - is Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer. If I were DNC Chairman Howard Dean, after taking my morning meds, I'd spend part of every day trying to get him to run.

One last note to Schumer. If it's a face of angst you want, I have an idea. Instead of "pretend" Joe and Eileen, collar the guy whose car I saw driving down 35th Ave. S.W. in West Seattle the other day during evening rush. His car sported a bumper sticker reading, "People Suck."* Likely not just a Peak Oil eco-warrior, but a Marxist wage slave to boot. A little anger management counseling, some new threads, a nice stipend as a Congressional committee consultant, and I bet he'd be putty in your hands, Senator.

*(I suspect this was a cut-and-paste job using the well-known bumper sticker, "Mean People Suck").

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at February 04, 2007 01:30 PM | Email This
1. Since Shumer's goal is to raise taxes on the middle class, I'm not sure how he feels that taxing people more will reduce angst. The real angst comes from the fear that Shumer, Hillary or O'Bama might be our next President.

Posted by: Doc-T on February 4, 2007 01:03 PM
2. It's not a real Dem campaign until the obligatory mention of Herbert Hoover.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega on February 4, 2007 01:18 PM
3. This is just as bad as Hillary the other day saying that she would like to take the oil companies "windfall profits" and put it into a strategic account to develop alternate fuel sources.

Posted by: TrueSoldier on February 4, 2007 01:26 PM
4. ...and what is the GOP strategy?

Posted by: Andy on February 4, 2007 02:02 PM
5. Well, it seems that the GOP strategy for the last decade or so has worked quite well - perhaps we should continue with tax cuts? The only thing that I think needs to be changed is the addition of new Federal programs - those need to be cut back.

It would be nice if the Democrats would also sit down honestly and talk about the entitlement programs, since that is where the biggest problems are going to arise.

We're not under-capitalized (tax receipts are at an all time high); we're over-spending. Correct the spending, not the capitalization.

Posted by: Edmonds Dan on February 4, 2007 02:08 PM
6. Andy @ 4: I can't speak for the GOP, but my platform-based recommendations for both parties on capturing the presidency are in the paragraph of the post which begins with:

"As for the road to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.,....."

Of course, the personna of the candidates is a major factor. Which is why I believe Rudy G. has promise for the Rs in 08.

Posted by: Matt Rosenberg on February 4, 2007 02:11 PM
7. In the Sunday P-I, Opinion Editor Mark Trahant put his shoulder to the wheel of the Democrats' manure wagon, and gave a mighty push. He wrote ominously that the overall savings rate in 2004-2005 was the lowest since.... 1934-1935 (cue dark Wagnerian music).

Mark neglects to mention what almost every other lefty also leaves out - that RIA and 401K accounts are not calculated as "savings" because they are not immediately liquidatable.

So what is actually going on is that by any commonsense definition where savings means saving something for the future, Americans are saving far more than ever, and into funds that less likely to be raided to buy a new car on impulse. And because most of those funds are professionally managed, this represents a huge investment pool in the capital market that is not as volatile as the stocks that were held by individuals, who could be panicked, and have been in the past.

On a (considerably) less serious note, I asked my neighbor who is a proud member of the reality-based-community why she thought that raising the minimum wage was such a great idea, cautioning that this might reduce the number of jobs available to unskilled workers. She explained that the objective was to "...make up for all those CEOs making millions of dollars a year."

Looks like the Democrats and their pet newspaper editors have done their work well in my neighborhood (cue "Twilight-Zone" theme).

Posted by: sherlock on February 4, 2007 02:54 PM
8. I think you are whistling past the graveyard, Matt. Republican prospects in '08 are so miserable that hope only lies in the Democratic wing of the Democratic party. They may yet force whoever gets the Democratic nomination to adopt so many cringing positions in the primaries that even an angry electorate cannot stomach him/her.

Posted by: Tom Rekdal on February 4, 2007 03:22 PM
9. The problem I see for the GOP is that they lack a candidate who inspires the Republican (Reagan/Goldwater) wing of the Republican party.

McCain has not just burned, but dynamited, bridges with a large segment of the party, especially the gun rights advocates, with his incumbent-protection "campaign finance reform."

Guiliani will have serious problems with the Bible Belt social conservatives. So too will Romney, though I think to a lesser extent.

Interestingly, Fred Thompson is rising fast in the Pajamas media straw poll.

Posted by: Heartless Libertarian on February 4, 2007 04:25 PM
10. The Democraps ran in 2006 on getting us out of Iraq, now they are running in 2008 on the same BS.

Blah Blah Blah Blah.....

They stand for nothing but More Bucks and Blab

Posted by: GS on February 4, 2007 06:29 PM
11. "The middle class are scared to death they could become poor."

Nawww, EXCEPT for when you raise their taxes!!

Posted by: Michele on February 4, 2007 06:59 PM
12. They are so far removed from the middle class they wouldn't even know one when they saw one! They would probably think a middle-class person was a mutated result of global warming....

Posted by: katomar on February 4, 2007 07:17 PM
13. I see where John Edwards just built a new, 26,000 square foot house with adjoining 15,000 square foot recreational facility. Obviously he has his angst under control and feels that times are good. Perhaps Shumer should weekend with Edwards and Hillary should weekend with Rosie O'Donnell.

Posted by: Walters on February 4, 2007 08:04 PM
14. Speaking of John Edwards, remember when he sent a staffer to Wal-Mart and had his staffer ask to front of the line treatment to get a Playstation 3 the day after he gave a Wal-Mart bashing speech. What a hypocrite. Granted he claimed his staffer did it without his approval, but out of all the stores in North Carolina his staffer choose Wal-Mart. Either this shows that he hires staff that are fairly incompetent (what else would you call a staffer who goes to purchase a product for your family from a store you just bashed) or John Edwards is a hypocrite. Not to mention he must not be paying his staffer enough to be in the "middle-class" if this staffer is a regular shopper at Wal-Mart.

Posted by: TrueSoldier on February 4, 2007 08:53 PM
15. I started doing my taxes this weekend. I am horrified. My "middle class angst" is going to place me firmly oppposed to anyone who says we need to raise taxes!

Posted by: Seabecker on February 4, 2007 09:03 PM
16. Here's a a great big steaming pile of angst that I fear the Democrats will inflict on the whole of the United States: What Draconian measures will they pass to bring this country into complience with the bogus global warming dictates from the Euroweenies?

Will they pass some sort "carbon tax"? Will they artificially inflate the price of gas to over $4 to discourage consumption? Will they ration electricity or shut down coal fired electric plants? Will they limit air travel or just travel in general?

This phony global warming crisis is an unlimited license for tyrants, both Democrat and Republican, to expand the power of the police state. The Islamofacists are just a minor worry compared to the global warming fascists.

Posted by: Bill K. on February 4, 2007 09:27 PM
17. What is the real agenda ? The only way to increase a so-called middle class is income redistribution. The red colors of the Democrat Party come out. Oh sure, they'll say that tax increases will fix it and that it is all the fault of the evil Republicans. Ultimately when this doesn't solve it (alot was caused by outsourcing and also illegal hiring of illegal aliens - that can't be retrieved), the only other option is to go for income redistribution enacted by radical tax increases and bloating of Government to elevate us further into the "Nanny State".

This is another situation like the Iraq War in that the Democrats cannot find any effective solutions. The mere suggestion of this makes me more certain that the Dems have moved more to the left and it might as well be called "Socialism American Style".

Posted by: KS on February 4, 2007 09:40 PM
18. The Republicans screw the middle class on the behalf of the Rich. The Democrats screw the middle class on the behalf of the Poor.

There is no party representing Middle Class America.

Posted by: Tom on February 4, 2007 09:40 PM
19. Walters:

John Edwards is fond of speaking of "two Americas." Now we know what they are: the 41,000 sf one he lives in, and the one the rest of us live in.

Posted by: Organization Man on February 5, 2007 06:53 AM
20. The Lib-Democrats very existence derives from fear mongering the Middle Class versus the Poor. The last thing Rich Libs want is an ascendant Middle Class that challenges the Old Money.

Lib-Democrats put racial and economic dividers between the middle class and the poor so that neither challenges the Rich. The Rich Liberals such as Kerry and Kennedy love to trash basic Middle class values and foster resent between them and the Poor.

The best strategy for the Republicans is to appeal to both the ascendant, migratory Poor and the ascendant Middle Class.

Posted by: John Bailo on February 5, 2007 09:30 AM
21. #20:

1. I agree with what you say.

2. Either party has to solve the medical affordability crisis so that employers and people can afford the cost of medical care

3. The biggest problem in communities of color is capital formation. I believe that social security savings accounts that can be transfered upon death is one idea for the low income.

I left the dem party and became an indie because, in my opinion, the primary ideology of the Kennedy/Biden wing is a permanent victim class which they use for vote mining. The contempt most of these leaders feel for those of color and lower income individuals is almost palpable. They are assisted in the development of this victim class by Jackson/Sharpton and those like them. These individuals benefit in their personal wealth from siding with the Kennedy/Biden wing. The party that has a plan for making life easier for the middle class and providing for capital formation in low income communities will win.

Posted by: WVH on February 5, 2007 09:43 AM
22. Schumer spews the party line....any surprises here?

How many of the Dems are rich, and thus "evil" as they continually say?

Posted by: Jack Burton on February 5, 2007 10:03 AM
23. I don't expect democrats to run on eliminating the tax cuts- they'll just do it after they win. It's not the biggest issue smacking American's in the face daily right now.

The question I would ask is will the number of car bombs going off in Iraq increase, decrease, stay the same if we reduce troops? I personally cannot see justification for securing a country which won't even draft it's own men to defend it's borders.

The number of car bombers in Baghdad would go down if they were out in the desert digging a trench and shooting at people crossing the border. Al Quaeda and local militias will recruit those who are not drafted...Yet instead we fight this war like we're denying it is a war- you can't have it both ways.

Posted by: Andy on February 5, 2007 10:05 AM
24. Tom @ post 18 has it about right. The Dems' message seems to be a couple of two-word phrases:

Raise Taxes
Free Money

The 'Pubs lack an economic message that resonates with the middle class. They point to corporate profits and a rising stock market. Ordinary working stiffs who see more and more middle class jobs being outsourced to Bangalore and Malaysia aren't really going to be impressed with that line of argument. So this is an issue ripe for the picking by demagogues on either side. My guess is the 'Rats have the edge in the demogogue category.

Posted by: Interested Observer on February 6, 2007 05:15 AM
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