Being thankful is wearing thin. So is being reminded of how thankful we should be, a hard thing to avoid this time of year. Our tradition is to be grateful for what we have, no matter what. Is that why so many Americans still support the policies of a president who keeps telling us how much we have lost without doing anything to get it back?
The middle class is still waiting for Obama’s better bargain.
By the time we cast our votes in 2016, middle class Obama supporters may finally have figured out that they were handed a raw deal. False promises, misplaced blame, and partisan idealism do not create jobs or paychecks. Bad economic policy makes sure those paychecks will always be out of reach.
Last summer we were finally ready to start building the economy we need:
With new American revolutions in energy and technology and manufacturing and health care, we’re actually poised to reverse the forces that battered the middle class for so long, and start building an economy where everyone who works hard can get ahead.¹
Yesterday morning we were in the planning stage:
In the weeks ahead, I’ll keep talking about my plan to build a better bargain for the middle class. Good jobs. A good education. A chance to buy a home, save, and retire. And yes, the financial security of affordable health care. And I’ll look for any willing partners who want to help.²
And three years from now as the curtain closes on the Obama presidency the middle class will still be waiting because promises, not results, are what brought out the vote.
Older workers don’t have much to be thankful for, either.
Should we be thankful that the economy has rendered older Americans obsolete? If White House propaganda writers had spent a little more time talking about what older workers can bring to the economy and a little less writing about why immigrants are our best bet we might have focused on what counts.
The White House had a scheme for putting unemployed older workers back on the job, but wage welfare never panned out:
States will also be empowered to implement wage insurance to help reemploy older workers and create programs that make it easier for unemployed workers to start their own businesses.³
Even if this idea had been more than a pipe dream, topping off diminished paychecks doesn’t give businesses a reason to hire any more than a government pamphlet telling an unemployed person how to start a business will produce an income. With periods of unemployment that more than tripled by 2011 and over one-third of jobless older workers searching for over a year,4 how many Americans will be sitting down to their holiday meals wondering whether next year’s feast will be courtesy of a food pantry or soup kitchen?
At least low wage earners are angry.
One group of workers has the good sense to not be thankful, but their thanklessness is for all the wrong reasons. The Department of Labor still insists that businesses should pay higher salaries to unskilled workers:
For this administration, raising the minimum wage is just one part of what the president has called the “unfinished business” of America. We need to see the FLSA and the minimum wage as part of a larger struggle to cut poverty and to address the challenge of income inequality. When our children and grandchildren are assessing our legacy 50 years from now, I don’t want them to say that we’ve fallen short on the urgent matter of keeping America’s fundamental promise of opportunity and upward mobility.5
How does paying more money for the same thing create growth and opportunity? It doesn’t, but it does allow the administration to take credit for another effort that will go nowhere despite the media’s eager coverage of fast food worker walkouts.
This holiday season, give thanks. Then be angry at Obama.
Don’t spend too much time being thankful. Your president doesn’t want you to. He wants you to be angry, as long as that anger isn’t directed at him. If you are a member of the middle class he wants you to feel abused and cheated. If you are an older American looking for work you can blame the GOP for not passing wage welfare, just in case you do get lucky and find a lower-paying job. If you are a low wage worker earning what businesses pay for having no skills, rest assured Obama has your back even though it won’t get you anything. If you make a lot of money then you probably have something to be thankful for. You should still be angry at Obama. Your wealth has become part of the reason everyone else has less.