Thomas Edsall warns against Democrats’ emphasis on benefits for the middle class at the expense of the super-rich.
“Middle-class populism, however, raises a host of problems for the Democratic Party. When the middle-class populist message is turned into actual legislative proposals, the costs, in the form of higher taxes, will be imposed on the affluent. Such a shift in the allocation of government resources threatens the loyalty of a crucial Democratic constituency: well-off socially liberal voters.”
“The perils of a middle-class populist strategy were demonstrated in the aftermath of the State of the Union address.”
“With what can only be called a surprising display of political naïveté, Obama lit a fuse under his upscale allies with one item in the message accompanying his Jan. 20th speech. The president, as a part of his assertive redistributionist agenda aimed at shifting benefits from rich to middle-income citizens, called for the effective end of tax-advantaged 529 college saving accounts.”
“As anticipated, Republicans were critical. But what killed the plan was Democratic opposition from an unexpected quarter: the party’s leading advocates of middle-class populism: Nancy Pelosi, House Democratic leader; Chris Van Hollen, ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee; and Charles Schumer, chairman of the Senate Democratic Policy and Communications Center. All three members have large constituencies of upper-income Democrats.”