How do you sell a middle class bailout when the recession is over and you have taken credit for the economy coming back, when Washington is wallowing in debt, and when you have to promise more spending for votes? You fall back on catchy political slogans that don’t sound like slogans and repeat them until people believe them. Political slogans that make middle class Americans feel cheated and angry are all the Obama administration has left (see: Social Change for Obama Means Keeping America Divided and Angry). Without those middle class votes, more spending for the president’s legacy is off the table.
Second middle class bailout is a tough sell.
Economy for everyone is a catchy political slogan you are going to hear a lot this year as part of the campaign to sell a middle class bailout to voters. The president used it twice in Saturday’s Weekly Address. The White House Raise the Wage campaign has already put it to good use:
It will lift wages for 28 million Americans.
It will give businesses customers with more spending money.
It will grow the economy for everyone — and we can do it right now.1
It’s hard to sell a middle class bailout a second time when your first attempt didn’t deliver and you have to back off on promises made and credit wrongfully taken. Specious claims of jobs created and saved and millions lifted from poverty by Recovery Act spending2 mean Democratic candidates have a difficult job ahead making a case without admitting that their first middle class bailout was, by their own standards, a failure.
A middle class bailout plan is being drilled into American’s heads. At the least it consists of raising the minimum wage, extending unemployment insurance, and creating jobs. No opportunity is missed to stump for the bailout, even during remarks about wholly unrelated issues, like this statement from Steny Hoyer about the Benghazi committee:
I hope House Republicans take their own leaders’ advice and put their conspiracy theories to rest by defeating this resolution instead of continuing to waste Congress’s time on a partisan messaging agenda that does nothing to create jobs, restore unemployment insurance, fix our broken immigration system, or raise the minimum wage for America’s workers. Those are the issues we ought to be focusing on in the People’s House.3
The whole thing is damning for Democrats who were supposed to have solved our problems with the Recovery Act’s middle class bailout. Joe Biden was in charge of spreading the word with his Middle Class Task Force:
Today in St. Cloud, Minnesota, the Middle Class Task Force is holding a town hall meeting, titled “Road to Recovery: Building a Strong Middle Class through the Recovery Act.” The town hall discussion will focus on ways implementation of the Recovery Act will help the middle class.4
That was 2009. This is 2014. After all that recovery spending, we still don’t have a strong middle class?
Biggest bailout on this year’s ballot is for everyone.
Is it possible for taxpayers to fund a bailout for everyone, or everyone except millionaires and billionaires, people who have been turned into a leftist slur and knee jerk political slogan meant to arouse resentment? Most Americans will qualify for the biggest bailout yet, or at least we are being told we will benefit. Despite recent talk that Democrats are pulling back from Obama because they fear for their jobs, the party line on abusing the economy for the middle class has not changed. There is a big difference between backing the Keystone XL Pipeline and pushing for tax reform. Handouts are easier to sell than liberal energy policy.
Can Buffett Rule pay for a bailout of Middle America?
An old favorite has come back just in time for midterms. The Buffett Rule can be applied to just about any plan for spending. It implies unfairness, not political reality or even affordability for whatever scheme is being promoted. Illinois Senator Dick Durbin joined colleagues suggesting we use it to fund a Senate student loan interest bill:
The legislation is fully funded by enacting the Buffett Rule, which would limit special tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans that allow millionaires and billionaires to pay lower effective tax rates than middle class families.5
Most of those who feel slighted when they hear about the Buffett Rule would probably have a hard time explaining just what it means. It doesn’t matter. The Buffett Rule is a rallying cry to raise taxes and most Americans know it.
The scariest slogan of all won’t fund a middle class bailout.
The scariest political slogan we will hear this year did not start out to be a slogan and it comes from someone who is not even running for office. By now we’ve all heard it many times. We know what it means.
I will act on my own.
Obama can promise all he wants, but without funding from Congress and a Democratic victory in the House that middle class bailout his party is pushing is never going to happen. Maybe never going to happen is a slogan the GOP should try out.