NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


March 25, 2008

Believing that most middle-class Americans are only steps from disaster will lead Democrats to the wrong policy and political agenda, say Stephen J. Rose, author of the forthcoming, "Mythonomics: Ten Things That You Think You Know About The Middle Class That Are Wrong," and Anne Kim, director of the Middle Class Program at Third Way, a progressive think tank in Washington.

For example, Democrats should not confuse 2008 with 1929:

  • It's not even close; the overwhelming majority of Americans today are not on the brink of economic catastrophe and Democrats should not treat them as if they are.
  • In 2006, the median income of working-age husband-wife couples (ages 25-59) was $73,765.Eighty percent of Americans over 40 own a home, and while foreclosure rates have hit historic highs, it's still the case that relatively few homeowners are at risk of losing their homes over the next several years.
  • Moreover, if the coming recession follows the same pattern of the last seven downturns since 1960, it will be relatively short and shallow.

Democrats should not confuse bad times with pessimism:

  • Even during tough times, Americans are optimists and believe success or failure is within their control.
  • Eighty percent believe you can start out poor and become rich in America.
  • And while they are anxious over the current economic downturn and the broad changes brought about by globalization, they do not see themselves as victims.

Democrats should not only offer security instead of success:

  • In 2007 Democracy Corps found that 57 percent of Americans agreed that government makes it harder for people to get ahead in life, and 54 percent thought that government mostly gets in the way of the economy and job growth.
  • While people not hurt by recessions are open to helping those who are, Democrats cannot assume that economic recessions automatically translate into broad public support for major government interventions.

Source: Stephen J. Rose and Anne Kim, "Democrats And The Economy," Wall Street Journal, March 25, 2008.

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