The left is all about class warfare, but you’d be mistaken if you think the class they want to make war on is the upper class. Quite the contrary: the left is the upper class now, and their longtime critique of “neoliberalism” as a mechanism to transfer wealth from the poor to the rich is ironically accurate, as that is exactly what the left intends to do.
Two pieces of evidence to consider. First, note this piece from the Brookings Institution (the lead author Mark Muro is an acquaintance from my Washington days), about how the small minority of counties Joe Biden won represent 70 percent of the nation’s economic output, while the majority of counties Trump won only account for 30 percent of our economic output. Specifically:
Biden’s winning base in 477 counties encompasses fully 70% of America’s economic activity, while Trump’s losing base of 2,497 counties represents just 29% of the economy. . . Biden’s counties tended to be far more diverse, educated, and white-collar professional, with their aggregate nonwhite and college-educated shares of the economy running to 35% and 36%, respectively, compared to 16% and 25% in counties that voted for Trump.
You know what’s coming next: a reprise of the “What’s the Matter with Kansas?” argument, i.e., why do these lower-income working class rubes vote against their economic self-interest (in other words, for Republicans) and not vote for us since we’re obviously such better people? (And as I’ve said many times before, it is telling that the converse argument is never made: “What’s the Matter with the Upper West Side?” that leads high-income people to vote for Democrats rather that Republicans who will hold their taxes down. The left’s economic interest argument seems to run in only one direction.)
Once upon a time liberal Democrats stood for adopting policies to help the Americans who live and work in those 2,497 counties who aren’t as prosperous as the coastal regions. Today the left has the opposite disposition. Their policy priorities these days aim to increase their power and their wealth at the expense of the working class. Want proof? Consider this second piece of evidence: What’s the trendy left idea right now that the Biden Administration is thinking about? Forgiving student loan debt. And will this help the working class and lower middle class?
This Urban Institute chart, based on 2016 data, provides the answer:
In other words, forgiving the first $50,000 in student loan debt will benefit upper income households the most—a nice wealth transfer from the working and lower middle classes to the affluent.
By contrast, the left likes to moan on and on about stagnant household income. Except guess what mom: the fastest growth in median household income occurred in the last two years under Trump before COVID-19 hit. And key to it was likely the tax cut package and deregulations of 2017.
Indeed, median household incomes increased from $64,300 to $68,700 in 2018 alone—an increase of $4,400. To put it another way, US incomes increased more in 2018 than the previous 20 years combined. (Household incomes were $61,100 in 1998 and $64,300 at the end of 2017.) [These figures are adjusted for inflation.]
There is a lot of serious economic evidence that workers bear between 50 and 100 percent of the brunt of corporate income taxes, so we shouldn’t be surprised to see income growth after tax reform. No wonder we see such working class devotion to Trump, and a historically high number of people saying they are better off than they were four years ago (including especially hispanics). Naturally Democrats want to reverse this.
Chaser—quick, who said this:
“I think it is fair to say that in many ways the Democratic Party has become a party of the coastal elites, folks who have a lot of money, upper-middle-class people who are good people, who believe in social justice in many respects. But I think for many, many years the Democratic Party has not paid the kind of attention to working-class needs that they should’ve.”
Answer: Bernie Sanders, in late October.
Chaser #2, from the Wall Street Journal yesterday:
The U.S. government stands to lose more than $400 billion from the federal student loan program, an internal analysis shows, approaching the size of losses incurred by banks during the subprime-mortgage crisis.
The Education Department, with the help of two private consultants, looked at $1.37 trillion in student loans held by the government at the start of the year. Their conclusion: Borrowers will pay back $935 billion in principal and interest. That would leave taxpayers on the hook for $435 billion, according to documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.
Our government geniuses at work. Oh goody.