So the Republican Congresspeople had their annual retreat last week. Eric Cantor gave a presentation to his fellow Republicans, trying to get them to understand that, um, 90% of Americans are working class schlubs who have no ambitions. Er, I mean, that 90% of Americans don’t own businesses, and don’t want to own businesses. Apparently, this came as a huge surprise to his colleagues–previously they thought this only applied to 47% of Americans, the moochers–so he had to spell it out in a PowerPoint presentation with graphs and charts and short sentences.
Per Byron York’s report:
“Ninety percent of Americans work for someone else,” Cantor said, according to a source in the room. “Most of them not only will never own their own business, for most of them that isn’t their dream. Their dream is to have a good job, with an income that will allow them to support their family.”
“We shouldn’t miss the chance to talk to these people,” Cantor continued, according to the source, “which is why we will present and pass our plans to relieve the middle class squeeze.”
What was extraordinary about that portion of Cantor’s presentation was not that it was out of place — it was entirely on-target for a political party hoping to win elections in 2014 — but that it came six years into the economic downturn, and decades into a protracted decline in middle-class standards of living. Could it actually have taken Republicans that long to realize they should address such problems, especially when Democrats have made huge gains appealing directly to middle-class voters?
Apparently, yes. And even now, not all House Republicans are entirely on board. “It’s something that’s been growing and taking time for members to get comfortable with,” says a House GOP aide, “because they did spend the last decade talking about small business owners.
Six years into the economic downturn, and decades into a protracted decline in middle-class standards of living.
For years–decades, even–Republicans have demonized everyone who wasn’t a business owner, separating the makers from the takers. All of their policies have been predicated on the theory that business owners should be taxed lower than the rest of us and everything will be fine. Of course, in reality, their policies barely helped the majority of business owners, instead mostly benefiting the wealthiest and largest businesses.
So this is a step in the right direction, even if Cantor has to drag his fellow Republicans along with him. But let’s be patient. It “takes time” to recognize facts when you’ve predicated your entire strategy on a faulty understanding of the American people. They need to get comfortable and all before doing the right thing.
According to York, various conservative groups have been urging Republicans to devote more effort to middle-class concerns, prompting him to ask: “What took them so long?” What took them so long, indeed.