As the Obama administration and the Democratic Party prepare once again to campaign on the “issue” of income inequality (this time for the 2014 midterm elections), the irony of their efforts is impossible to ignore.
After all, President Obama has been peddling the class warfare rhetoric since before he ever took office. You would think that after five years in the White House, and signing numerous new economic policies into law, he’d by now be able to demonstrate at least some sort of success in his crusade against the widening income gaps in this country.
But we haven’t heard that. We just keep hearing the president talk about the unfairness of that nasty income inequality thing, and how something needs to be done about it – for the good of the country, of course.
There’s a reason why the rhetoric is so empty. It’s because it’s nothing more than a political strategy – one that can only work when the economy remains weak.
You see, if our country had a healthy employment situation, strong economic growth, wages that weren’t stagnant, and healthcare costs that were under control, people in the middle class simply wouldn’t care that wealthy people are getting richer faster than they are. It wouldn’t be something they’d spend two minutes thinking about.
Why? Because someone else’s financial gain isn’t a detriment to their own financial situations.
In prosperous times, people understand that. They understand that it’s not rich, wealthy people that are the cause of their hardships. They understand that the success of people who are successful doesn’t come at the expense of people who are unsuccessful.
In prosperous times, people understand that their wealth isn’t taken from them by the private sector. The government takes people’s wealth, doing so through taxation. The private sector provides products and services that people can willingly choose to purchase.
But when people are unhappy with their lives – when they’ve fallen on tough times and can’t find their footing – they’re prone to feelings of envy and resentment. And that envy and resentment has perhaps been the best thing going for the Democratic party in the era of Obama.
In the absence of a strong economy, Democratic politicians have found unquestionable success in stoking such emotions in Americans, and doing so through the mechanism of class warfare.
It’s not that the Democratic party is trying to keep the economy from succeeding, for their own political gain. That would be foolish. The problem is that their economic policies just don’t work, and so they’re forced to perpetually campaign against the byproducts of their own failed leadership.
Several years into a recovery that the administration often talks up as being significant, they’re still pleading for “emergency” extensions of unemployment benefits, printing money at a mind-numbing pace, and keeping interest rates artificially low. Those things aren’t done in a healthy economy.
Six years after the Great Recession began, there are 13 more million Americans in the country but 1.3 million fewer jobs. If the labor force participation rate was the same today as it was back then, today’s unemployment rate would be 11.3%. That’s not the sign of a healthy economy.
The truth is that the Obama economy, to the surprise of many, does work for some people: The very rich. It just doesn’t work for the middle-class and the poor – the very demographics the Democratic party claims to be the champion-protectors of.
There’s a reason for what we’re seeing.
When you flood industries with regulations and uncertainty, and make it harder for them to do business (as this administration has done), the survivors in those industries will always be the giants who have the resources to navigate through the bureaucracies, lobby the right politicians for exemptions, and hire fleets of lawyers to discover beneficial loopholes. They also have the luxury of being able to trim back their workforce and still be as productive as before (bad news for the middle class). Smaller businesses don’t have all of these advantages, and so they take the hit. They struggle to get by and in many cases, go out of business (more bad news for the middle class). Then, the larger companies excel because they suddenly have less competition to contend with. With less competition, employees don’t have to be paid competitive wages (even more bad news for the middle class). For those reasons, again to the surprise of many, big corporations are the ones thriving under this president.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s a good thing when anyone is doing well in an economy like this. It’s a good thing when the stock market is where it’s at right now. But the Democrats aren’t running on a pro-big-business platform. They’re campaigning on the issue of income inequality.
When you brush aside all of the political rhetoric and spin, and judge President Obama by the results of his own governance (which seems like a pretty fair thing to do five years into his presidency), the reality is that the income gap between the rich and the middle class has widened significantly during his tenure – not narrowed. In fact, it has grown four times faster under Obama than it did under George W. Bush – the man liberals told us for eight years was only interested in lining the pockets of Wall Street.
Thus, the idea that President Obama and his party would have the audacity to run on the self-tailored issue of income inequality is absolutely absurd. They are the ultimate perpetrators of income inequality in this country today, precisely because their policies only work for those who can afford to survive them.
Don’t think, however, that the Democratic party will acknowledge that inconvenient truth anytime soon, especially with few people pointing it out to the public. We’ll hear them beat the “income inequality” drum all the way until November. And if it provides them with enough Obamacare cover to save them the U.S. Senate, we’ll see it used all the way to 2016.
The nice thing about campaigning against the results of your own failed policies is that you’ll never be left without a platform.
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