It’s that time of year. Working families matter again. Their rise to the top of Washington politics happens every January as the State of the Union address focuses on America’s bedrock and ignores the ugly truth we don’t want to talk about: working families must suffer. Suffering is what makes them valuable.
“Working families” are meant to suffer
The term “working families” means different things to different politicians at different times. What a working family is depends on what political purpose it serves. For example, working families can mean middle class when we need to raise taxes on the wealthy. Sometimes we have to blur the distinction between poor and middle class and lump both together as working families (see: Obama Propaganda Creates a New Social Class). At other times the term refers to poor people outright, such as when members of Congress are intent on making businesses raise minimum pay.
Why must working families suffer? Because politicians need poster children. What could be better than a perpetual cause that doesn’t have a choice but to work hard and pay taxes? As much as politicians on both sides of the fence claim to support America’s struggling working families, what happened when push came to shove and they had to decide on a tax increase? Working families got hit right where it hurts with the 2013 payroll tax increase (see: Great Reasons to Hit Middle Income America With Tax Increases).
State of the Union is about using working families
You are going to hear all about working families for the next week or two. Obama has been talking about them as he leads up to Tuesday night’s futile moment in the spotlight:
And by adopting this working families agenda, thinking about how we can provide more flexibility to families, thinking about how we can make sure that moms and dads don’t have to choose between looking after their kids and doing what they need to do at work, thinking about all those families that are now trying to care for an aging parent — that kind of flexibility ultimately is going to make our economy stronger and is just one piece of what needs to be a really aggressive push to ensure that if you work hard in this country then you can make it.1
That’s a lot of tired rhetoric we have all heard before. At the moment, the working families agenda is about paid time off. Will working less make working families stronger? It might make them less tired. It won’t help the economy, though this administration is convinced that anything that beats more money out of the wealthy and business owners is good for America. Democrats will never understand that all costs get transferred somewhere and those with less money get hurt the most.
Time off isn’t all there is to this president’s vision for helping working families. Giving away things for cheap is important including low cost broadband, free college, government subsidized health care, and amnesty with work permits for our growing number of illegal families. Will any of these grand plans happen? It doesn’t matter because that’s not the point. Advocating for working families has nothing to do with advancing their cause. They need to keep working and wanting. Just like Obama claims illegals take jobs no one wants, working families fulfill a purpose that suits the needs of both of our political factions, right and left. They work. They pay taxes. They collect their meager Social Security pensions. They die. Most important they vote, and that makes working families important, especially if they are gullible enough to base their decisions on the belief that Washington cares about them.
Two lies about working families
Let’s get ahead of the president’s State of the Union speech before it happens and dispense with two lies about working families who will, as always, be the poster children of the evening.
They are struggling through no fault of their own
Some are, some aren’t. Other than the taxes working families pay and the regulations that kill their jobs and lower their incomes, it’s not the government’s fault if you aren’t successful or if you can’t support a too-large house or the kids you never should have had. As far as taxes and regulations are concerned, look to Obama. His thumbprint is all over higher costs, from health care to higher taxes to minimum wage jobs in states dumb enough to listen to his views on raising pay.
The government can help them
When does the government help anyone? Democrats had two years all to themselves to help working families. Instead, they passed the Affordable Care Act and enforced a 30-hour rule on employers that tipped the scale against families that don’t earn a lot of money. They worked with Republicans to pass higher FICA taxes. They decided to let their president concoct a scheme to give working class jobs to illegals. If the president still had the votes in Congress we’d be looking at the tax hike he’s talking up, too. That’s how the government helps.
Working families are too important to help
Obama is working for Democrats. Boehner is working for Republicans, or at least he claims to be. Working families are a tool. Their struggles are essential to keeping the balance between right and left on Capitol Hill because they are the one cause everyone agrees on. There has always been bipartisan agreement that we have to do better for working families, which is precisely the reason we never will.