Democrats and the Economy

Posted by: Michael Mandel on July 06

Steve Rose is a well-respected liberal economist who has written a fascinating essay entitled “Talking about Social Class: Are the Economic Interests of the Majority of Americans with the Democratic Party?” (Ruy Teixeira, a pollster associated with the Democratic Party, highlighted this paper in a recent post).

Rose writes:

Since the Republican policies over the last 25 years have favored the rich and appealed to cultural conservatives, then ‘how do they keep winning?’ is a conundrum for progressives. Some commentators resolve this problem by arguing that many people do not vote their interests but respond to cultural/social concerns instead

But then goes on to say

Perhaps, we need to consider the alternative that the majority of people do not have basic economic interests to vote Democratic….It is an occupational hazard of those with big hearts to overestimate the share of the population that is economically distressed. In their desire to generate public attention and support to expand public policies, they argue that the system is “broken” and needs repair (e.g., candidate Edwards’ speeches about the two Americas). But,it makes a big difference whether the share of the population in need is 15, 35, or 50 percent.
Liberals have relied on its identification with the “little guy” to be a unifying force based on a common self-interest. The data that are presented in this article would suggest that the number of people that directly benefit from activist state welfare policies is less than one quarter of the population. Other sectors of the population (e.g, college educated and young) have sympathies for redistributive and other progressive policies on the basis of moral values. But the support of many of these people for Democrats is not strong, and they can be swayed by fiscal and security concerns as well as various social issues

My personal belief is that the Democrats have erred by buying into “hairshirt economists.” From Walter Mondale in 1984 to John Kerry in 2004, Democratic presidential candidates have run on the issue of balancing the budget, something which is neither economically sound nor a big winner politically. As Rose says:

A rising deficit is too abstract to have much immediate political effect because the federal government has run deficits for virtually all of the last 40 years without having a consistent effect on jobs and the economy

The one exception to this rule was Bill Clinton, who won by running on an investment and growth platform, even though he switched gears once he got into office. Al Gore, by contrast, ran on an anti-deficit platform which did not resonate with voters.

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Reader Comments

Wes

July 11, 2005 03:53 PM

I don't think most people think running a continuous deficit is a good thing. The real problem is what will be cut and the sacrifices needed to balance the budget.

Bush and Co. have a winning formula to balance the budget....economic growth. Too bad it's largely a pipe dream.

Economic growth with targeted spending cuts are what is needed to fix the budget.

Joe

September 30, 2005 07:44 PM

It's is true republican policies are better for the rich than democrat's. I'm not sure a tax rate of 35 percent is favoring though. It's just that that they don't hurt as much.

stew

November 21, 2007 04:36 PM

yes but?
The War in Iraq Costs

$470,593,018,485

U.S. NATIONAL DEBT CLOCK
The Outstanding Public Debt as of 21 Nov 2007 at 09:33:30 PM GMT is:


The estimated population of the United States is 303,596,241
so each citizen's share of this debt is $30,061.94.

The National Debt has continued to increase an average of
$1.48 billion per day since September 29, 2006!
Concerned? Then tell Congress and the White House!

numbers like these are hard to ignore?

Thank you for your interest. This blog is no longer active.

 

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Michael Mandel, BW's award-winning chief economist, provides his unique perspective on the hot economic issues of the day. From globalization to the future of work to the ups and downs of the financial markets, Mandel-named 2006 economic journalist of the year by the World Leadership Forum-offers cutting edge analysis and commentary.

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