Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, left, listens as Office of Management and Budget Acting Director Russell Vought testifies before the House Budget Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 12, 2019, during a hearing on the fiscal year 2020 budget. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
During a House Committee on the Budget hearing titled “Solutions to Rising Economic Inequality,” Rep. Dan Crenshaw totaled the idea that income inequality is not only a worsening problem in our society, he destroyed the idea that it’s a problem at all.
Speaking to Romesh Ponnuru of the American Enterprise Institute, Crenshaw started off by pointing out the two different ways we tend to look at financial prosperity, opportunities, and the economy which are usually defined by the left and the right’s views on wealth:
So, on the one hand, you have a deep and persistent focus on inequality – it’s defined as the gap between the rich and the poor – and at first glance, that seems pretty reasonable. But in reality, it means you’re dividing your attention. Half your attention is focused on protesting the wealthy – and these days that seems actually where most of the attention is – and that leaves only a small amount of focus on the real issue, which is people in poverty and their ability to move up the economic ladder. This is the kind of backwards thinking that leads to ideas like Andrew Yang’s, where we raise taxes on the rich only to give it right back to them in the form of universal basic income. It’s hard to imagine a more inefficient and ineffective way to reduce poverty.
As a conservative, our approach is different. Instead of creating resentment against success, we focus on who actually needs our help, which is the people who are having trouble moving up the economic ladder. After all, the fact that there’s a much wealthier person down the street from you is not the problem.
Crenshaw then asked Ponnuru whether or not income inequality is worse than ever, especially given all the welfare benefits and inflation. Ponnuru let everyone in the room know that we’ve actually never looked better economically:
No, it does not appear to be true. The Congressional Budget Office’s reports on the distribution of income suggest that income inequality peaked in 2007, that it has been falling since then, and so, we are, I think to some extent, looking at a problem in the rearview mirror. Of course that could change. Maybe next year’s numbers will be different, but the trends over the last decade or so have been toward shrinking inequality.
Crenshaw later dropped some statistics that back up the claim that Americans are more economically prosperous than the left lets on.
“It also turns out that 56% of Americans will at some point in their lives be in the top 10% of earners. 73% of Americans will be in the top 20% of earners in their lifetime. It’s an amazing statistic,” said Crenshaw.
Crenshaw pointed out that this means that the left is right, and the middle class is shrinking, but not because people are becoming impoverished, it’s because they’re moving up in the income brackets. Therefore, the narrative that income inequality is worse than ever is actually wildly inaccurate.
“This is all good news – doesn’t mean we can’t improve – the point is that the rhetoric about inequality is not only inaccurate, but it’s just flat-out unhelpful to the people we are actually trying to help,” said Crenshaw.
Crenshaw’s point was clear. The left gets too preoccupied with income inequality to the point where they actually set up roadblocks for people to become wealthy, or even come up with inane solutions that only make the problem worse like “universal basic income.”
They are effectively relying on socialism, which is a provenly failed method of economic governance, to fix problems that we’re not even having in the first place. At least not on a scale nearly so bad as the left is claiming.
The Daily Wire even backed up Crenshaw’s point by referring to various sources that showed America has been improving for years when it comes to upward economic mobility:
According to AEI’s Mark Perry, using data from the U.S. Census Bureau, from 1967 to 2017, the percentage of high-income households in the United States increased from 9% to 29.2%. Meanwhile, the percentage of low-income households decreased from 37.2% to 29.5%. The share of middle-income households did shrink (from 53.8% to 41.3%), but many moved upward.
A 2018 publication from Pew Research states: “From 1971 to 2011, the share of adults in the middle class fell by 10 percentage points. But that shift was not all down the economic ladder. Indeed, the increase in the share of adults who are upper income was greater than the increase in the share who are lower income over that period, a sign of economic progress overall.”
While Crenshaw is right, and we can always improve, we need to begin looking at ways to use positive solutions for the economy instead of continuously resorting to solutions to “even the playing field.” The goal isn’t to be even, the goal is to get ahead. Onward and upward.