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Friday, June 20, 2014

Bill Clinton is right — as usual

Posted By on Fri, Jun 20, 2014 at 7:16 AM

Former President Bill Clinton is right as usual on political strategy. From Politico:

Former President Bill Clinton said Thursday that helping the middle class is more important than reducing income inequality — a rebuke to populist Democrats that could have repercussions if Hillary Clinton runs for president in 2016.

In a speech at the centrist Hamilton Project that focused on anti-poverty policies, Clinton insisted he didn’t object to President Barack Obama’s focus on fighting income inequality, or to higher taxes for upper-income people. But he said most Americans are more worried about their own incomes than how much rich people are earning.

“You are not going to get rid of poverty until you get rid of middle-class stagnation. Poor people have got to have someplace to move up to,” Clinton said. “And the absence of social mobility is a far bigger problem than income inequality.”
“Americans don’t resent other people’s successes — what they resent is not having a fair chance,” Clinton said.

Not for nothing did Clinton himself intone the words "middle class" throughout his own political career. They are two words to live by, slavishly, in the major political races in Arkansas this year. I doubt we'll hear Mike Ross or Mark Pryor, for example, campaigning on income inequality or higher taxes for rich people. There's evidence Republicans get this. Asa Hutchinson has appropriated a "middle class" theme in his tax policy (flawed though it is in implementation of new tax brackets, drawn disingenuously to prevent too damaging an impact on the revenue stream any governor needs to realistically govern.) Mike Ross would do well to talk more about his own middle class-aimed tax policies and less about tax credits for corporations.

Clinton's belief that Americans don't resent a fair chance for all is embodied, I think, in the broad support for an increase in the minimum wage, even if most working people make more than the statutory minimum. The current minimum isn't enough to support a family. Honest toil deserves more. Ross is on the right track on that issue. Hutchinson and other Republican candidates, notably wealthy Little Rock banker French Hill, the Republican 2nd district candidate, seem deaf to this.

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