01.31.2013 1

Preserving the Middle Class: Who Cares?

By David Bozeman — The idea that the Democratic Party — or Washington, D.C. in general — seeks to preserve the middle class is so much political theater.

Furthermore, doesn’t the idea of a middle class pre-suppose a lower class, which necessarily denotes class inequality? And doesn’t that fly in the face of everything liberal Democrats believe?  Economic equality is, after all, the left’s Holy Grail, their very reason for waking up in the morning.

But since America has, historically, been defined by its middle class, politicians of both parties pile on the platitudes, and while no one takes seriously any more the image of Leave it to Beaver Main Street, the notion of hard-working, home-owning Americans struggling with mortgages and college tuitions still tugs at the electoral heartstrings.

But do the president and the Democrats truly seek a restored, vibrant middle class, or is their aim, like the ruling party in Orwell’s 1984, to abolish all classes and make everyone equal?

Their vision may not be quite that bleak, but a 35-point plan developed by the Center for American Progress to “strengthen” the middle class suggests not a thriving, independent linchpin of American prosperity but an homogenized, stagnant and, yes, dependent voting bloc.

Their proposals include:  ensuring that no middle class family pays more than 15 percent of their income in college tuition, reducing the cost of saving for retirement by nearly half, restoring half a million teaching jobs, creating 2 million jobs rebuilding and upgrading infrastructure, securing paid sick and maternity leave for workers, reducing the costs of pre-school, etc., etc.

How predictable that the left would strengthen the middle class by empowering the ruling class.  Most of their measures would require massive transfers of wealth (that could otherwise create revenue and opportunity) — consider that Rhodes College political science professor Marcus D. Pohlmann calls for a “return to the pre-Reagan tax rates that went up to 90 percent on the highest earners,” granting tax breaks only for investments that increase the likelihood of “middle class development here in the U.S.”

And once we have soaked the rich, who’s next?  Not only will the Obama Democrats someday target the middle class, they already have.  The fiscal cliff deal and the earliest edicts of Obama-care are cutting into the paychecks of millions of working Americans.  Add that to the president’s last four years of economic recklessness.

In pursuit of their (typically) unstated goal of economic justice, liberal Democrats seek to, incrementally, if necessary, wipe out any vestiges of class distinction.  In contrast to the “transformational” rhetoric of Obama, Ronald Reagan sought to restore America’s founding values.  His second inaugural address noted the economic malaise he had faced: “We yielded authority to the national government that properly belonged to the states. . . or to the people themselves.”  “We believed then and now there are no limits to growth and human progress when men and women are free to follow their dreams.”

Fast-forward 28 years and heed the “you didn’t build that” rhetoric of one Barack Obama.  Note that Reagan’s words inspired pride in achievement, as opposed to today’s verbal spasms of class envy.  His vision for America transcended the economic and racial distinctions carelessly pawned off today as hope and transformation.  Reagan, at his finest, never sought the numbing equality of the lowest common denominator but raised the specter of greatness so that everyone might enjoy the fruits of their productivity. That crystal-clear vision is a refreshing contrast to the tiring chant of ‘preserving’ the middle class, which is little more than a guise to amassing greater central power.  This is beyond the transformation of America, this is its decline.

David Bozeman, a former Libertarian Party Chairman, is a Liberty Features Syndicated writer.

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