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Posts Tagged ‘Democrats’

Elites focus on inequality; real people just want growth

May 6th, 2014

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The economic debate is now sharply focused on the issue of income inequality. That may not be the debate Democrats want to have, however. It’s negative and divisive. Democrats would be better off talking about growth — a hopeful and unifying agenda.

Democrats believe income inequality is a populist cause. But it may be less of a populist issue than an issue promoted by the cultural elite: well-educated professionals who are economically comfortable but not rich. There’s new evidence that ordinary voters care more about growth.

Growth and inequality are not separate issues. Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph E. Stiglitz wrote, “Politicians typically talk about rising inequality and the sluggish recovery as separate phenomena when they are in fact intertwined.  Inequality restrains and holds back our economic growth

The question is whether Democrats want to talk about punitive and confiscatory policies aimed at curbing the power of the wealthy and special interests or an agenda aimed at growing the economy for everyone.

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The Election Results No One is Talking About

November 12th, 2013

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Which is the most important result of Tuesday’s election?

A. A Republican governor won a landslide election in a blue state.

B. A Democrat was elected governor in a purple state during intense criticism of a new federal government program.

C. An outspoken liberal Democrat was elected mayor in a big city — where opposition parties had been in power for 20 years.

D. An education funding amendment lost in a mountain state.

If you said D, you’re correct.

On Tuesday, Amendment 66 was defeated in Colorado, with preliminary results suggesting a drubbing of two-to-one opposed. It would have improved education funding with slight tax increases and changed Colorado’s flat tax to a two-tiered, progressive structure.

The goal was a major overhaul of education finance, with reduced disparities at the local level and increased spending — including funding for early childhood programs, rural education and at-risk youth programs.

Millions of dollars poured into the state to support the amendment. High-profile backing came from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Melinda Gates. But the more than $10 million spent in support of the amendment wasn’t enough to convince skeptical voters.

The defeat of Amendment 66 should worry Democrats. This is about as close as you can get to the main thrust of the Democratic Party’s progressive agenda: raise taxes on wealthier people to fund investments in the future.

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Are Liberals Taking Over?

September 27th, 2013

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Immigration reform. Defunding the ACA. Marriage for gay couples.

Polls suggest there’s a gulf between Republicans and the public. And some Democrats have become emboldened, arguing that a new, liberal, Democratic majority has arrived.

Over the past few short weeks, everything from Syria to de Blasio to Summers has been touted as evidence of the growing strength of liberals. In a sprawling tome, Peter Beinart weaves all of these threads together, arguing that Occupy Wall Street should be the Democratic playbook and Sen. Elizabeth Warren should be the QB come 2016. President Obama? He’s been put on the Clinton DINO bench.

All of this is based on the prognosticators’ faith that what voters really want is a “real” Democrat. Translation? Liberal ideologue.

But what if that’s not what voters want? In our report on the new electorate, we examine ideology and partisanship among key growing demographic groups—Hispanic, Asian, and Millennial voters. We found that they are not overwhelmingly liberal, nor have they aligned strongly with the Democratic Party.

Ideology

Liberal Moderate Conservative
Hispanics 30% 31% 32%
Asians 31% 37% 24%
Millennials 28% 38% 28%

Source: Pew Research Center 

Partisanship

Democrat Independent Republican
Hispanics 32% 50% 13%
Asians 33% 34% 18%
Millennials 31% 45% 18%

Source: Pew Research Center and Gallup

Despite the temptations of recent events, Democrats should heed this data and be cautious to not take the support of Hispanic, Asian, and Millennial voters for granted. Independents and moderates represent large swaths of these groups, and of voters overall. Republicans may have ceded the center recently, but if history is any guide, they will adapt. And when they do, Democrats need to be ready.

With friends like these…

September 16th, 2013

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Democrats got three surprises last week.

One was that the party would not hold together behind President Obama’s call for a military strike in Syria. Another was that Democrats in Colorado did not rally to the cause of gun control. The third was that New York Democrats have come up with an unexpected new spokesman for urban America.

What do the three surprises add up to? The fact that the New America coalition that President Obama brought to power is ready to set out on its own, independent of Obama.

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Response to Jonathan Chait’s critique of the “Four Fiscal Fantasies”

July 3rd, 2013

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In response to Jonathan Chait’s critique of our memo on the Four Fiscal Fantasies, let’s begin with two articles from this week. The first, in The Washington Post, shows that America today is spending less to stop the spread of AIDS in Africa than we did under President Bush. The second is a piece from Elizabeth Rosenthal of The New York Times showing the outrageous prices U.S. hospitals charge to deliver babies—charges far out of line with any other country and symbolic of the epidemic of high costs throughout our health care system.

The main point in our memo is that these problems are related.

  1. We have an entitlement system that provides critical economic security and stability to Americans, but it is rife with bloated health care costs that are slowly devouring everything else that government does.
  2. The main entitlement programs for the elderly—Social Security and Medicare—are on a path to insolvency.
  3. Raising new taxes on the wealthy—though necessary—won’t solve our problems.
  4. Acting now to fix entitlements is better and easier than waiting.

Our memo lays out these cases pretty explicitly, so let’s touch on just a few things.

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Tax reform progressing in spite of fiscal gridlock

March 11th, 2013

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President Obama and his Republican dining companions showed last week that bipartisan schmoozing is back. Whether bipartisan deal-making will follow is anyone’s guess. But if it does, there are reasons to believe tax reform will be on the menu.

The most visible movement on tax reform is in the House of Representatives. Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) last week announced that the bill name “H.R. 1” would be reserved for tax reform. Traditionally, House speakers have given that title to bills that are among their top priorities. Consider some of the recent bills with that name: the stimulus package of 2009 and the Medicare prescription drug law of 2003.

The H.R. 1 designation signals the end of an internal Republican dispute over whether to proceed with tax reform. Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-OH) previously advised the party to avoid the issue, because its progress could require votes on controversial topics like the mortgage and charitable deductions. But now, with Boehner’s blessing, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) has a green light to pursue his priority issue.

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