Give Nancy Pelosi, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and Democrats credit for perseverance. Perhaps never before has one American political party so boldly clung to the “who are you going to believe, us or your lying eyes” approach. Despite a growing avalanche of share-the-wealth moves by large-scale employers such as Apple, Wal-Mart, Target, Disney, and Verizon, Pelosi has stuck to her argument that the tax reform bill is a disaster for American workers. Bonuses of $1000 are “crumbs,” she told an audience at Florida Atlantic University earlier today:
The Democratic Party’s top leaders on Thursday flicked aside the bonuses and pay hikes 250 companies like Home Depot, Fiat Chrysler and Wells Fargo are giving employees as a result of the tax reform package approved in Congress last year and signed by President Trump.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi repeated her complaint that it was just a “crumb,” and that corporate “fat cats” will get so much more. …
Pelosi said, “There’s a cartoon that I just love…. There’s a little mouse trap who’s got a little piece of cheese on there and there’s a mouse about to take it and that’s called the middle class. And around it are fat cats, they look a lot like elephants but anyway, around there. And that’s the thing. Get this little thing and we get this big bonanza. You get the crumb, we get the banquet.”
Not to be outdone, former DNC chair Wasserman Schultz shrugged off the value of $1000 entirely, while stating — incorrectly — that there aren’t any announced bonuses of higher value. “I’m not sure,” Wasserman Schultz argues, “that $1000 — which is taxed, taxable — goes very far for almost anyone”:
First off, the bonuses are taxable income — but Wasserman Schultz forgets that the tax rates will be lower because of the tax reform bill, too. Not only do they get more money, they get to keep more of it, too. On top of that, Pelosi and Wasserman Schultz certainly did a lot of bragging about the 2009 economic stimulus bill a few years ago, which provided four hundred dollars maximum per taxpayer. That didn’t come in the form of a single check (as the Bush-era stimulus of $600 per filer did), but as an adjustment to withholding that amounted to about $13 per paycheck, prorated for the year.
A later payroll tax cut promoted by Barack Obama and Democrats added $40 per paycheck to those earning the household median income of $50,000, which added up to … $1000 per year. The White House even had a special page on its website for “$40 Stories Across All 50 States,” such as this from Rita in Connecticut (via Twitter follower StewSays):
New Britain, Connecticut: Rita
Forty dollars is a tank of gas, a nicer Sunday family meal instead of hot dogs, the ability to leave lights on instead of turning them off earlier in the evening. Forty dollars is being able to go to the movies, or having a night out at an inexpensive restaurant, it’s also paying co-pays for my meds that I need to live on. Forty dollars is money for our heating oil, money put away in savings for a birthday present for a family member. Forty dollars buys lunch food to bring from home, forty dollars pays the cable bill, and the difference between healthy food and unhealthy food on our shopping list. Forty dollars is vacation savings, part of a car payment, a mortgage payment, or a phone bill. Need I go on with more examples of how $40 is used and needed?
Apparently, Rita does need to explain it again — to Pelosi and her caucus.
Besides, some of the bonuses have reached $2000 per worker, which for most workers would have a significant impact on household finances. In addition, a number of the 250 employers that have announced major investments in compensation also have increased wages permanently. Until Republicans passed this tax reform bill, wage increases for hourly workers was a central priority for Democrats, only they argued that the only way to accomplish that was by government mandates rather than improving the business climate through tax and regulatory reform. Pelosi and her team routinely demonized some of the same firms that have responded to predictable market forces in increasing wages in the new climate — Wal-Mart especially being one of those.
Trump is obviously unpopular, with a dismal approval rating that’s almost unbelievably low given record stock prices and a strong job market. But Democrats would be foolish to think simply running against Trump will produce victory in November. Pocketbook issues almost always dominate elections, and with good times returning, voters simply won’t believe Democrats who say the Trump economy is terrible. In reality, it’s not terrible. It’s pretty good and getting better.
Democrats might still have a compelling message this year if they run on restoring dignity to government, or bolstering women, or fixing the broken health care system, or reinstating environmental protections. But the economy will not be their issue in 2018, and Democrats claiming the Trump economy stinks will seem as out-of-touch as all the other politicians Trump has already defeated.
They’re telling people to ignore their own eyes, and especially their own wallets. That’s a bad argument for a midterm election, and it’s not going to age well after the new withholding tables come on line for everyone in February. All that will be left of Democratic credibility when Pelosi & Co are through will be … crumbs.