Today, the GOP is the party of the little guy.

Dem de la Crème

BY KARL ZINSMEISTER
Monday, September 6, 2004 12:01 a.m. EDT

Democrats: the party of the little guy. Republicans: the party of the wealthy. Those images of America’s two major political wings have been frozen for generations.

The stereotypes were always a little off, incomplete, exaggerated. (Can you say Adlai Stevenson?) But like most stereotypes, they reflected rough truths.

No more. Starting in the 1960s and ’70s, whole blocs of “little guys”–ethnics, rural residents, evangelicals, cops, construction workers, homemakers, military veterans–began moving into the Republican column. And big chunks of America’s rich elite–financiers, academics, heiresses, media barons, software millionaires, entertainers–drifted into the Democratic Party.

The extent to which the parties have flipped positions on the little-guy/rich-guy divide is illustrated by research from the Ipsos-Reid polling firm. Comparing counties that voted strongly for George W. Bush to those that voted strongly for Al Gore in the 2000 election, the study shows that in pro-Bush counties, only 7% of voters earned at least $100,000, while 38% had household incomes below $30,000. In the pro-Gore counties, fully 14% pulled in $100,000 or more, while 29% earned less than $30,000.

Read the entire article on the Wall Street Opinion Journal website. Free registration may be required.

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2 thoughts on “Today, the GOP is the party of the little guy.”

  1. The shameful mendacity of this article cannot go unchallenged. If you describe the “little guy” as someone in America’s beleaguered middle class, the Republican Party has not been a champion of his interests, but the cause of his troubles.

    Let’s examine the record of the last 4 years, under our current Republican administration.

    a. For the first time since the Presidency of Herbert Hoover more jobs in the United States have been lost, than have been created. Current job creation has not even been sufficient to satisfy job demand resulting from the natural growth of the population.
    b. Wages and salaries have risen at a slower pace during this recovery than in every recovery period since the end of World War II. So far during the current recovery, wage and salary incomes have risen at the meager pace of 0.8 percent a year, after adjusting for inflation. Over other recoveries since the end of World War II, wages and salaries rose on average at a real rate of 4.8 percent a year, or six times as quickly.
    c. While income for workers has grown at the slowest pace on record for a recovery, corporations have enjoyed above-average gains. During this recovery period, corporate profits have enjoyed healthy growth of 14.2 percent per year after adjusting for inflation. This exceeds the average growth rate of 11.8 percent for all other recovery periods since World War II.
    d. Census data released Thursday, August 26 show that the number of people who lacked health insurance coverage throughout the year rose to 45 million in 2003, up 1.4 million from 2002 when 43.6 million were uninsured, and up 5.2 million from 2000 when 39.8 million were uninsured. In percentage terms, 15.6 percent of Americans — almost one in every six people — were uninsured in 2003. Although the economy has been slowly recovering since 2001, health insurance coverage has deteriorated, and more Americans have been unable to get needed medical care because they are uninsured.
    e. Census data released Thursday, August 26 show that the number and percentage of Americans living below the poverty line increased for the third consecutive year in 2003. Since 2000 — the last year before unemployment began to rise — the number of people in poverty has risen by 4.3 million, median income has fallen by $1,535, after adjustment for inflation, and the number of people with no health insurance has increased by 5.2 million.
    f. Since 2001, President Bush’s tax cuts have shifted federal tax payments from the richest Americans to a wide swath of middle-class families, the Congressional Budget Office has found. The CBO study, due to be released today, found that the wealthiest 20 percent, whose incomes averaged $182,700 in 2001, saw their share of federal taxes drop from 64.4 percent of total tax payments in 2001 to 63.5 percent this year. The top 1 percent, earning $1.1 million, saw their share fall to 20.1 percent of the total, from 22.2 percent. Over that same period, taxpayers with incomes from around $51,500 to around $75,600 saw their share of federal tax payments increase. Households earning around $75,600 saw their tax burden jump the most, from 18.7 percent of all taxes to 19.5 percent. http://msnbc.msn.com/id/5689001/
    g. In February 2004, President Bush’s Chief economist extolled the virtues of outsourcing US jobs overseas, writing, “when a good or service is produced more cheaply abroad, it makes more sense to import it than make or provide it domestically.”
    h. In August 2004, the Bush administration instituted changes in labor regulations designed to take overtime pay away from as many as 6 million American workers, including policemen, firemen and emergency workers.
    i. The Bush administration, quietly killed off a Labor Department program that tracked mass layoffs by U.S. companies (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2003/01/03/MN120712.DTL)
    j. The Bush administration advocated changing pension rules to allow companies to more easily deny benefits to older workers. Workers accustomed to traditional pension plans that pay guaranteed monthly benefits are increasingly seeing those plans converted to so-called cash-balance plans—and as a result, many workers will lose thousands of dollars each year in promised benefits. Some 700 major corporations have made cash balance conversions over the past decade, and Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) estimates 8 million current and retired workers have lost $334 billion in promised benefits as a result. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2002/12/10/politics/main532435.shtml
    k. The Bush administration repealed a Clinton-era rule that allowed states to use unemployment insurance money to help people who take a leave from work to have babies or adopt children http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=FA0E11F93C5F0C778CDDAB0994DA404482
    l. College tuition fees continued to rise steadily, closing off for many middle class families a gateway to economic upward mobility. Many states chose to deal with their budget deficits by dramatically raising tuition costs at public universities, and community colleges. http://www.cnn.com/2004/EDUCATION/07/09/college.costs.ap/

    Faced with stagnating wages, weak job growth; eroding health benefits American workers have become more economically insecure under the policies of the Republican Party.

  2. Dean, the piece by Zinsmeister tracks voting trends by income and other factors. Your response consists of Democratic talking points. It doesn’t speak to Zinsmeister’s thesis.

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