Its tough to define the middle class, but about 45% of Americans view themselves as “middle class.” That is a huge segment of the American electorate. It is also a clue as to where the Republican Party should start to focus their energies when it comes to the 2016 presidential campaign.
We know the Democratic playbook- class warfare and pitting the 1% versus the 99%. Its ironic given the fact their likely nominee is squarely in that exclusive 1% club. What makes it even more ironic is that she and her husband achieved that status by virtue of talking. They built nothing; they produce nothing. Even Donald Trump, a member of the 1% club, erects buildings and golf courses once in a while. That is why it is so important that the GOP get the candidate right this time out. Part of the problem with 2012 and Mitt Romney was the perception (which Obama played to the hilt) that he was “not one of us.” Romney was of the patrician class unable to truly understand the plight of the middle class. No matter how heart-felt his concerns, he could not overcome that perception. That is why those stories about Rubio borrowing against his 401(k) fell on deaf ears; that is something only a member of the middle class can relate to. Who hasn’t splurged on something with a tax refund? Clinton is so far removed from a middle class lifestyle that all the sob stories about her upbringing play to the choir.
A Wall Street Journal poll from earlier this year gives a clue as to a strategy for the GOP. While Democrats will play up income inequality, that poll revealed that the American middle class was more concerned about economic mobility, not income inequality. The average American does not begrudge someone their success, but they are disheartened when their prospects for climbing the economic ladder are thwarted. Given the fact that not only have wages essentially stagnated under Obama and that more people are actually living in poverty than ever before, anything that lowers one’s expendable income is a slap in the face.
For example, his most recent climate change initiative targeting power plants is expected to increase the average American’s heating bill $400. That is the low end estimate and does not take into account the number of lost jobs. The Democratic solution to income inequality is unions despite the fact that union membership is at an all-time low and workers are increasingly voting against organizing, unless it is in the public sector. Speaking of which, it is your tax dollars that pay the salaries of those unionized public workers. Increase their salaries and grant them lucrative pension and health benefits and that is less expendable income for the middle class.
Obamacare is another prime example. The Democrats, Obama and Hillary tout the fact that health care inflation has slowed down. The rate of inflation makes little difference to the poor sap forced to pay out an additional $500 per year rather than an additional $750 a year. That lost $500 is huge to the middle class, a pittance to the upper class, and “paid for” to the lower class.
We can look at all the Democratic proposals for helping the middle class and poke holes in them. Two weeks of paid vacation yearly? What good is it if you can’t afford to go anywhere except sit at home and worry about the mounting bills? College affordability? The current system uses taxpayer money to educate the next generation of Gender Studies graduates, build student centers, and increase pay for administrators, but at least your kid will learn to use gender-neutral pronouns. Boost take home pay? Raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Hey- what chambermaid or hamburger flipper wouldn’t like $15 an hour? Of course, as businesses adjust and use less workers or resort to automation, it is kind of self-defeating, and as for that current member of the middle class paying extra for that “splurge” on a Big Mac it may not seem so “fair.”
That 2015 Wall Street Journal poll is nothing new. It reflects the same things the middle class worried about in a 2010 ABC News poll. That 2010 poll showed that the middle class was not so concerned about income inequality. They were concerned about remaining in the middle class and advancing at least one or two rungs up the ladder. Instead, they are witness to rising costs all around them, mainly attributable to Democratic “solutions” like regulations and “reforms,” while their paycheck remains the same.
So let Hillary and Obama and the Democrats break out the pitchforks and take on the 1%. But let’s hope and pray that the eventual Republican nominee is someone who actually lived the middle class lifestyle and can more readily identify with it. You can’t really do that if you live in a $1.33 million home in Chappaqua, New York where the median household income is $180,451 (or 3.2 times the national average). That and her other million dollar homes are her idea of middle class. Let’s hope and pray the Republican nominee can clearly articulate a plan and policies that will truly help the middle class and at least dispel some of the uncertainty and angst they feel about remaining in the middle class because with the Democrats, there is no means to advance and nor incentive to remain in the middle class.