Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Hollowing Out Of The Middle Class And The Lack Of Big Ideas To Reverse Trend

Most of the voters in the US belong to the middle class.  Therefore, it is not surprising that Democrats and Republicans claim to be on their side.  Bruce Bartlett was in the Reagan Administration when it came up with the big idea of supply side economics.  That big idea convinced many in the middle class that they would be better off if taxes were cut and government intervention in the market system were reduced.  Bartlett's review of a book on the hollowing out of the middle class claims that politicians on both sides of the aisle still cling to the idea of supply side economics.  Republicans have a strong version of the idea, and Democrats offer a weak version sprinkled with ideas like raising the minimum wage.  He does an excellent job of describing the dynamics that are responsible for the hollowing out of the middle class and he concludes that the left has prescribed half measures to solve a big problem.  His summary of the issue applies equally well to the UK as it does to the US.  Thatcher and Reagan sold the same big idea to the public and the left has moved to the center in response to the movement to the right by conservatives.

It is tempting for progressives to stick with relatively small ideas, like raising the minimum wage, that test well in polls and focus groups and don’t engender too much resistance on the right. That moves the ball forward, but will never change the game. The left needs the most critical thing the right got from supply-side economics: It was a Big Idea that had the potential to fundamentally change the terms of the debate and was something around which many different policies and coalitions could be built. In short, progressives need to think bigger if they hope to win.

No comments:

Post a Comment