by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The political scientists — and admittedly, a big chunk of that demographic — are only now starting to realize that despite Obama’s incessant invocation of the “middle-class economics” catch-phrase, the modern Democratic party doesn’t have that much to offer those $50,000- to $100,000-per-year voters.
When you’re poor, politicians speak about you with great sympathy and set up massive, often-inefficient federal programs to help you. When you’re rich, politicians grovel at your feet during fundraisers. But if you’re in that $50,000 to $100,000 demographic, you have too much money for sympathy but not enough money for influence.
The Obama administration’s recent retreat on 529 college savings accounts is a good example. The plan — eliminating the tax-free withdrawal status of the savings plans in order to finance “free” community-college tuition for all — was initially pitched as a way of closing a loophole allegedly exploited by the rich. Had the White House looked more closely at the figures, they would have found that 70 percent of 529s are owned by households with an income below $150,000 (picture two spouses making around $75,000 each). Those households may not be poor, but they almost certainly don’t think of themselves as rich. …
… Democrats will point to Obamacare, or the allegedly Affordable Care Act, as one of their great gifts to the middle class. The problem is that middle-class Americans notice when they’re paying more in premiums, co-pays, and deductibles, and the math suggests that the overall program is a bad deal for the middle class and above.