Commentary Magazine


Topic: the March Wall Street Journal

Thanks, but No Thanks

This report explains a phenomenon startling only to those who misunderstand the fundamental character of the American middle class:

President Barack Obama returned Thursday to the city where he launched his health care plan nearly three years ago to sell the final product, part of a broader economic agenda that is gaining legislative steam in Washington.

But the people he says his policies are targeted to — the middle class — are the ones he appears to be losing. … As Mr. Obama pushes the agenda forward, middle class voters are moving away, according to polling. Middle-income voters—those earning between $50,000 and $75,000 a year, take a negative view, on the whole, of the president’s job performance, with 52% disapproving and 42% approving, according to the March Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll. Among all wage groups, by contrast, opinion on Mr. Obama is nearly evenly split, with 48% approving and 47% disapproving, according to the poll. A year earlier, voters in the $50,000-to-$75,000 bracket had a far more positive view of the president, with 56% approving and 29% disapproving of his job performance

The Obami assumed they could bind the middle class to both government and the Democratic Party by giving them lots of goodies, most especially “free” or “nearly free” health care. But instead, suspicion and resentment have grown, worry about the debt and taxes to pay for all this have skyrocketed, and the voters whom Obama is supposed to be helping don’t feel helped at all.

In some sense, it is a refreshing reminder that the public remains intensely skeptical of big government and is more sophisticated than politicians assume. Moreover, individuals’ own life experiences tell them Obamism doesn’t work — unemployment remains at record levels, and health-care costs continue to rise. So that resentment and skepticism will only continue. In November, voters will have an opportunity to tell incumbents, “Thanks, but no thanks.” They can emphasize the need for a new course away from a European social-welfare model and toward the free-market system traditionally at the source of American freedom and prosperity. In short, the voters can show they can’t be bribed into accepting permanent dependency on an ever-growing federal government.

This report explains a phenomenon startling only to those who misunderstand the fundamental character of the American middle class:

President Barack Obama returned Thursday to the city where he launched his health care plan nearly three years ago to sell the final product, part of a broader economic agenda that is gaining legislative steam in Washington.

But the people he says his policies are targeted to — the middle class — are the ones he appears to be losing. … As Mr. Obama pushes the agenda forward, middle class voters are moving away, according to polling. Middle-income voters—those earning between $50,000 and $75,000 a year, take a negative view, on the whole, of the president’s job performance, with 52% disapproving and 42% approving, according to the March Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll. Among all wage groups, by contrast, opinion on Mr. Obama is nearly evenly split, with 48% approving and 47% disapproving, according to the poll. A year earlier, voters in the $50,000-to-$75,000 bracket had a far more positive view of the president, with 56% approving and 29% disapproving of his job performance

The Obami assumed they could bind the middle class to both government and the Democratic Party by giving them lots of goodies, most especially “free” or “nearly free” health care. But instead, suspicion and resentment have grown, worry about the debt and taxes to pay for all this have skyrocketed, and the voters whom Obama is supposed to be helping don’t feel helped at all.

In some sense, it is a refreshing reminder that the public remains intensely skeptical of big government and is more sophisticated than politicians assume. Moreover, individuals’ own life experiences tell them Obamism doesn’t work — unemployment remains at record levels, and health-care costs continue to rise. So that resentment and skepticism will only continue. In November, voters will have an opportunity to tell incumbents, “Thanks, but no thanks.” They can emphasize the need for a new course away from a European social-welfare model and toward the free-market system traditionally at the source of American freedom and prosperity. In short, the voters can show they can’t be bribed into accepting permanent dependency on an ever-growing federal government.

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