With the 2018 mid-term elections now six months away, it would be well to consider where Democrats should focus their efforts in terms of issues confronting the nation. Perhaps the most important issue with which most everyday Americans deal is quite simply their finances. Frankly, their personal finances are influenced significantly by that rather illusive term – “the economy.” Under no circumstances should any Democrat candidate cede the economy debate to the Republicans. Despite President Trump’s grandiose pronouncements regarding the nation’s economic health, many everyday Americans are having a hard time determining how they are benefiting from his superlative bombast. The president is less than credible when addressing the economic issues facing working men and women, small business owners, teachers, single-parents, persons of color, low-income working poor, retirees, and other everyday Americans. Democrats need to be aware that there is a very real economic inequality in our nation and be prepared to debate it with there Republican opponents and discuss it with their potential constituents. The following points are worthy for Democrats to address in the forthcoming elections.
- For many middle-class Americans nothing affects their economic well-being more than the cost of healthcare. The Republicans attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act was unsuccessful. However, through executive orders and budget manipulations, the Trump administration has been able to seriously damage the Obama legacy’s most important legislation. The New Times reported on the impacts of the changes that have now placed outrageous new burden on many middle-class families in 2018. The cost of health insurance, including premiums, co-pays, deductibles, and prescription medications can be the largest expense item in the family’s budget. Democrat candidates would be well advised to conduct their own research on the cost of healthcare for middle and lower income individuals and families. A town hall meeting or informational seminar will not only help the candidate learn more about the healthcare issue from their constituents but also give the candidate the opportunity to express what she or he proposes to do about healthcare.
- Education has always been the great equalizer in America. Given the ability to get a college degree has always been a worthy goal and to a certain extent the ticket to admission from limited opportunity in unskilled employment to greater opportunities in the American economy. For most parents the hope is that their children will have more and better opportunities than they had. This education open to all has been a core value of the American experience. Unfortunately, for many the cost of a four-year college education has been become out of reach financially. While this article purports an average cost, it does not mean that a public college or university in given state would be higher or lower. It is only an average. Is it any wonder that college graduates have a tremendous burden on their shoulders? I don’t know of too many middle-class families who can fork out $100,000 for a child’s college education!
There are other options available. The nation is blessed with hundreds of public comprehensive community colleges. The cost of a community college education in the school year 2017-2018 varies from state-to-state. The above link will let you see what the annual cost is for your state. Even if a prospective student wants to gain a four-year degree, a two-year community college degree in General Studies in most cases mirrors the first two years of a four-year college’s general education requirements. In addition, community colleges offer a whole range of two-year degrees in vocational, technical, and medical occupations which are in demand and pay well. Beyond that, community colleges remain the most democratic and diverse campuses in the country; not to mention that a person is essentially automatically accepted if they have a high school diploma or a GED (General Equivalency Diploma).
Democrat congressional candidates would be advised to address the issues regarding higher education opportunity and its cost. Parents are concerned about affordability and prospective students are worried about a mountain of debt. We have not heard the president, or his Education Secretary Betsy DeVos engage in a serious discussion of higher education. It is an issue worth considering in your campaign.
- Democrat candidates should not overlook another economic issue affecting the working men and women of America. It may be an issue which isn’t as apparent to economists, economic policy wonks, members of Congress or for that matter the president. It is a simple issue that any working man or woman who drives a car or pickup truck can identify with – the cost at the pump for gasoline and diesel fuel. I don’t where you live, but where I live the price today at the pump has increased to $2.94 a gallon (regular grade gasoline). That is nearly a 30% increase since May 2017. The average mid-size car in the United States gets 26 mpg and the average half-ton, FWD, 6-cylinder pickup truck gets 16 mpg. You don’t have to be much of a mathematician to determine that is costing almost $25.00 more a month to drive your car to work assuming a 20 mile commute each way in a mid-size car. The cost is higher if you drive a pickup truck. $25.00 a month may not seem like much if you live in Beverly Hills or on Park Avenue in New York City. But it does make a difference to middle-class working men and women. What makes it even worse is that diesel prices are going up as well. That fact alone will have a huge impact on independent over-the-road truckers and farmers all over the country. Those big 18 wheelers and farm tractors you see working fields this Spring all operate on diesel fuel. All of which affect personal financial budgets.
With many oil industry market watchers predicting $5.00 gasoline in the relatively near future, it may behoove Democrat candidates to pay attention to this basic economic need of middle-class Americans. Interestingly, the president has been silent on this issue after claiming falsely that the country has be become energy independent in his state-of-the union speech in January. This link gives an informative look at the energy industry and the factors which affect it.
- The Republicans are trying their hardest to make their only significant achievement in this session of Congress, “The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act”, the main campaign message of the 2018 mid-terms elections. The public isn’t buying it. The reason is pretty simple. For most people other than the top 5% of the population, it is pretty hard to see how getting an extra 30 dollars or so in their paychecks (bi-monthly) justifies going 1.5 trillion in debt to give the top 5% a huge tax reduction; let alone the tax cuts to corporations who didn’t need the cuts in the first place. This is the kind of thing that happens when you have the best Republican Congress money can buy and a president who thinks only of himself. For an non-partisan understanding of this is issue click this link. Democrat congressional candidates should not allow their Republican opponents get away with another attempt to hoodwink the middle-class with their nonsense regarding The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
This only a short list of economic concerns that working men and women have heading into the 2018 elections. Suffice to say they are more, not the least of which is the narcissist in the White House. But Democrats don’t need to spend their time attacking Trump. He does a pretty job of making a disgrace of the presidency as it is. Let Trump be Trump. The 60% of Americans who have had enough him will register their opinion at the ballot box in November. The challenge for Democrats is not to become complacent and have a repeat of 2016. Fortunately, the energy and intensity remains strong.