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‘Middle-Class Economics’ vs. Bread-Bag America

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President Barack Obama is touring the United States, giving speeches to promote the policies he unveiled in this week’s State of the Union address. Perhaps, during his travels, he’ll look through his tinted limousine’s windows and notice that the country isn’t doing quite as well as he claims.

Senator Joni Ernst laid the groundwork for this potential awakening in her response to the State of the Union.

“We see our neighbors agonize over stagnant wages and lost jobs. We see the hurt caused by canceled healthcare plans and higher monthly insurance bills. We see too many moms and dads put their own dreams on hold while growing more fearful about the kind of future they’ll be able to leave to their children,” she said, explaining how the real situation in the heartland differs sharply from Obama’s rosy, self-congratulatory rhetoric. “Americans have been hurting, but when we demanded solutions, too often Washington responded with the same stale mindset that led to failed policies like Obamacare. It’s a mindset that gave us political talking points, not serious solutions.”

Growing up, she noted, her mother would reuse everything, even wrapping old bread-bags around Ernst’s shoes to protect them from the rain.

Her assessment of bread-bag-slipper America made for an interesting contrast with the aimless grab bag of redistribution schemes and poll-tested rhetoric Obama referred to as “middle-class economics.” It was quickly discovered that the supposedly random ordinary woman Obama spotlighted as an example of middle America’s gratitude for his wonderful policies was, in truth, a Democrat Party operative he’s used as a human prop before. With Obamanomics, it’s sock puppets all the way down.

While Ernst outlined sharp policy differences with Obama on issues such as Keystone XL, foreign policy, ObamaCare, executive overreach, and abortion, she took the President up on his offer to work together on an issue he’s supposedly interested in tackling: simplifying the tax code. Of course, when Obama says that, he doesn’t really mean it – he wants to close a few “loopholes” that benefit constituencies he doesn’t like, with an eye toward raking in more money for the government. Obama and his Party will never willingly surrender the enormous power a hyper-complicated tax code gives them to manipulate the economy, reprogram society, and reward their big-money supporters.

Ernst’s Republican idea of tax reform was considerably more ambitious, although she stopped short of explicitly calling for reforms as dramatic as the Flat Tax or sales-only Fair Tax. “Let’s simplify America’s outdated and loophole-ridden tax code,” she urged. “Republicans think tax filing should be easier for you, not just the well-connected. So let’s iron out loopholes to lower rates and create jobs, not pay for more government spending.”

That’s bread-bag thinking in a nutshell: smaller government, bigger people. Obama doesn’t come within a light-year of any proposal that would make the government smaller. Even when he kicks around the idea of middle-class tax relief, it’s only for certain people he deems worthy, and he’s careful to make plans for his beloved Leviathan State to recoup lost revenue by soaking others.

Every politician pays lip service to the idea that hard-working people who play by the rules should be able to get ahead. Ernst praised her parents and grandparents, who had “very little to call their own except the sweat on their brow and the dirt on their hands,” for working and sacrificing to give her “some truly extraordinary opportunities.” She said all it takes to pursue those opportunities is “the freedom to dream big, and a whole lot of hard work.”

Don’t you dare dream too big, though, or Obama’s Dream Police will scribble out a citation for greed in the first degree and begin seizing your income! The dreams of the Little People must be carefully regulated by their betters. Good luck getting a permit for anything they can’t imagine… or anything that would compromise the ambitions of those with better connections. Don’t try taking credit for the results of your own hard work, or you’ll get a little speech about how You Didn’t Build That.

The thing about Obama-style liberalism, even at its most sincere and least corrupt, is that it looks upon Ernst’s account of hard-working parents sacrificing for their children and sees a horror story that must never be repeated. No one should have to work that hard, or sacrifice anything. Here, have some government-mandated sick leave, maternity leave, wage increases, child care… you’ll feel better, provided you don’t ask any tough questions about who’s paying for all those mandatory benefits, or get any funny ideas about launching a venture that doesn’t conform to the standards of politicians.

The “middle class” is a protean rhetorical construct guaranteed to produce the kind of divisiveness and bitterness Obama claimed he doesn’t want. It’s a broad concept that covers everything from highly-taxed professionals, to people who receive at least as much in government benefits as they pay in taxes. Everything done in the name of the Middle Class is automatically justified, no matter who it hurts, or who pays for it. The Middle Class is the only class we’re supposed to aspire to. Nobody really wants to be poor, while aspiring to wealth is considered selfish.

This is all political claptrap peddled by those in search of power. Guaranteed comfort and managed outcomes require the compulsion of unwilling citizens. The pursuit of opportunity requires no such compulsion; as Ernst said, it’s all about freedom, hard work, and sacrifice. Those resources are as essential to rich men and women as they are to paupers. Hundred-billion-dollar social programs are not needed to ensure the lawful equality of opportunity and honest effort.

Middle-classness is a function of independence, not income. The middle class combines great economic resources with political strength; it’s a great body of people putting in a huge amount of work, producing an astonishing volume of wealth, and casting enough votes to thwart politicians with grandiose plans to pick their pockets. That’s why the Left hates them, and wants to re-define middle-class life into something the State provides. You’ll enjoy the ride through life, provided you remain in your assigned seat.

America is not made great by its government. Passive “hope for change” is worth nothing compared to active effort. Our true recovery will not be a matter of pouring another $60 billion into the leaky administrative bucket of public education, which just happens to be a big Democrat political donor. Recovery will be delivered by people who want an education so badly that they’ll go to school on rainy days with bread bags over their shoes to keep them dry. Such people have little patience for claims that they can’t get ahead in life unless others are forced to buy things for them.


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