Is it because a tax-the-rich agenda is good politics, as determined by clever pollsters who have tapped into the collective mind of American voters (and as demonstrated by this cartoon)?
Since I can’t read the President’s mind, I’m not sure of the answer. I suspect he’s a genuine ideologue, but your guess is as good as mine.
But I can say with more confidence that his pursuit of class-warfare doesn’t resonate with voters.
Or, to be more specific, the American people aren’t susceptible to the politics of hate and envy so long as they’re offered a better alternative.
Let’s look at some new polling data on this topic.
Writing for the Wall Street Journal, William Galston explains that anemic growth is making it harder and harder for households to increase their living standards.
Over the next decade, there is one overriding challenge—recreating an economy in which growth works for everyone, not just a favored few. …Recent reports underscore the extent of the challenge. …long-term trends continued to point in the wrong direction. The employment-to-population ratio is lower than it was at the official end of the Great Recession in mid-2009. The labor-force participation rate dropped to 62.8%, the lowest since the late 1970s. …from 2010 to 2013 median family income corrected for inflation declined by 5%, even as average family income rose by 4%. Only families at the very top of the income distribution saw gains during this period. Family incomes between the 40th and 90th percentiles stagnated, while families at the bottom experienced substantial declines.
That’s the bad news.
The good news is that the American people understand that class warfare and redistribution is not a route to a better life.
They are much more supportive of policies that increase the size of the economic pie.
Americans have strong views about the economic course policy makers should pursue. Surveys of 3,000 Americans conducted between January and March of 2014 by the Global Strategy Group found that fully 78% thought that it was important for Congress to promote an agenda of economic growth that would benefit all Americans. …Strategies to spread wealth more evenly and reduce income inequality received the least support; 53% believe that fostering economic growth is “extremely important,” compared with only 30% who take that view about narrowing income inequality. …These views have political consequences. By 59% to 37%, Global Strategy Group found that Americans prefer a candidate who focuses on economic growth to one who emphasizes economic fairness. By a remarkable margin of 64 percentage points (80% to 16%), they opt for a candidate who focuses on more economic growth to one who emphasizes less income inequality.
What makes these results especially notable, as pointed out by another WSJ columnist, is that the Global Strategy Group is a Democrat-connected polling firm.
Here’s some of what James Freeman wrote.
Now here’s something you don’t see every day. A prominent Democratic polling firm has found that voters don’t view reducing income inequality as a top priority. Instead, they want economic growth. …The results were released in April but until now have received almost no attention in the press. No doubt the findings would have rudely interrupted the months-long media celebration of Thomas Piketty and his error-filled and widely unread book on income inequality. And the survey data suggest that the core message of President Obama and his political outfit Organizing for Action is off target. …the Obama economic message is all about redistributing wealth, not creating it. But as the liberals at Global Strategy Group felt compelled to observe, “Growth-focused candidates appeal to many more voters.”
I’m very encouraged by these numbers.
For decades, I’ve been telling folks in Washington that growth trumps fairness. And I’ve made that argument based on policy and politics.
The policy part is easy. All you have to do is compare, say, France to Hong Kong if you want evidence that pro-growth policy is how you help the less fortunate.
But since I worry that America’s social capital is eroding, I’m also concerned that people might be more sympathetic to redistribution. In other words, maybe a growth message no longer is effective when trying to get votes.
According the Global Strategy Group data, though, voters still understand that it’s better for politicians to focus on growing the pie.
In this same spirit, here’s an interview I did earlier in the week for Blaze TV. The early part of the discussion is about a new Harvard report on the economy. But since the report didn’t say anything, skip to the relevant part of the interview, which starts at about 3:15. I explain that economic growth is the only viable way of boosting the well being of lower-income Americans.
And if you want more information on why growth is better for the poor than redistribution, click here.
P.S. For a humorous explanation of why the dependency agenda is so destructive, here’s the politically correct version of the fable of the Little Red Hen.
And the socialism-in-the-classroom example, which may or may not be an urban legend, makes a similar point.
But I think this pizza analogy may be the best way of showing that redistribution doesn’t help the poor.
P.P.S. I still think Margaret Thatcher has the best explanation of why the left is wrong on inequality. And if you want to see a truly disturbing video of a politicians with a different perspective, click here.
Take a look at this video, which features the big Democratic donor who was made head of the IRS by Obama, and get a load of his cavalier attitude about the IRS obeying the law.
If you watch the entire exchange, I think it’s fair to say that Mr. Koskinen wasn’t saying that the IRS shouldn’t obey the law. But his flippant response, combined with the Obama Administration’s repeated decisions to arbitrarily ignore and/or change existing law, certainly shows that the ruling class isn’t very serious about the rule of law.
And that’s not a good sign for America’s future.