The Bottom 99 Percent
by Deacon Blues
While a fractured Democratic Congress and detached White House scramble for a coherent economic policy in the aftermath of the midterms, please allow a lowly blogger to suggest the following.
Democrats, as usual, are making things much more complex than they need to be. Despite the media’s obsession with hewing to the Fox/GOP party line on deficits, the public cares little about taxes and deficits right now. Sure, the electorate that voted earlier this month may care a lot about tax cuts and cutting spending for everyone else, but the public as a whole still only cares about jobs and growing the economy. In fact, when given the choice between focusing on the deficit and additional spending for infrastructure and jobs, recent polls show it isn’t even close: jobs and targeted spending win out by extremely large margins.
Naturally, Democrats are floundering, because they’ve been crappy at messaging and strategy since they took power in 2006. Now, with a White House that will likely capitulate and waive the flag of surrender to the new GOP House majority, House and Senate Democrats find themselves adrift, with a smaller but still important Blue Dog faction and 2012 class that need to be protected from further erosion. Yet what kind of focus and message can tie theses groups, moderates and progressives together and still draw distinctions with the GOP and Tea Party obsession with Corporate America and the wealthy? Robert Reich put forward an enlightened idea yesterday, when he pointed out how well the top one percent of earners have done over the last several decades at the expense of the rest of us. And this got me to thinking: The Democrats should brand themselves as the Party of the Bottom 99 Percent.
Reich suggests that the White House and Democrats in Congress hold out for a temporary extension of the tax cuts only for those making less than $500,000 per year. By moving the threshold up from $250,000 to $500,000, Democrats would obliterate the GOP’s “small businesses would be hurt” argument. Broadening their tent to draw in not only the middle class but also small businesses and upper income non-elites allows Democrats to force the GOP to hold out for tax cuts for the top one percent, thereby driving a wedge into the GOP/Tea Party base. Plus, it allows common ground between the progressive base and the Blue Dogs.
All economic decisions in 2011 for Democrats can be boiled down to one simple message: If it doesn’t help the Bottom 99 Percent and directly create jobs here in America, forget it.