What the statistics, the cold hard statistics, show is that if estimates hold true, when the final figures are in, some 45 million Americans — young and old — will be classified as poor. That is 1-in-7 in what politicians and pundits proclaim as the “greatest nation in the world.”
That is where we stood at the end of the second Bush administration and that is why the Democrats are correct to lay the blame for that on the previous president.
However, that was then and this is now. And voters know the difference.
Although there are no census figures to back it up, the general feeling is that things have gotten no better under the Obama administration. Those in the middle class are increasingly restive and reactionary. Who can blame them with 401(k)’s and retirement accounts slipping ever lower and joblessness on the rise?
The tea party movement is only one manifestation of the deep uneasiness out there. Its approach to the nation’s problems — purge the GOP, win the Congress, cut taxes, cut spending, pay as you go – has an appeal to the mad-as-hell set.
Then along comes news of how much money CEOs of top companies made last year despite their companies’ dismal records. People are grumbling about how CEOs should be paid based on productivity, and that maybe stockholders should form a tea party movement of their own.
And now, as the new week begins, we see that House Republican Leader John Boehner is doing a little reading of the tea leaves. While assuring the business base of his party that he wants to keep the Bush tax-cuts for everyone, the Ohio congressman nevertheless would be in favor of letting the tax cuts expire (as the GOP-written bill requires) for Americans making $250,000 or more a year.
Without going into the logic behind choosing $250,000 as the line that divides wealthy from middle class – a line most middle-class Alabamians would find ridiculous – the point to note here is that Rep. Boehner has apparently connected the dots and the line leads to the simple conclusion that folks “out there” are getting tired of people at the top getting breaks while everyone else is paying for them.
Though the facts behind these feelings do not always check out, for many believing makes it so. And those folks vote.