Who's Looking Out for California's Middle Class?
Thirty years of political engagement in California politics has led me to the realization that the middle class is woefully underrepresented in this state. Not only that, but this injustice seems amplified with every passing year.
This column has covered the lack of meaningful representation for ordinary citizen taxpayers for more than a decade. Indeed, in October, we exposed the unfairness of Assembly Bill 8, a massive $2.3 billion car tax increase on everyone who relies on their cars for work, errands and everyday life.
Assembly Bill 8 was nothing less than a deal among very powerful interests who had no problem throwing taxpayers under the bus. Who were the winners? Environmental extremists (with support from Governor Brown) who got funding for a dubious “Hydrogen Super Highway.” Also, manufacturers of “green cars,” like the hyper-expensive Tesla, got big tax breaks. Regrettably, some of our allies in the agriculture and trucking industry were in on the deal as well. In exchange for their imprimatur, they received much needed relief from some absurd regulations which seem to proliferate in California like amorous rabbits.
Standing alone against all these well-moneyed interests was the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. And while we are acknowledged as a powerful voice for California taxpayers for our unwavering defense of Proposition 13, the interests of homeowners and citizen taxpayers, there are times when our advocacy is steamrolled by those with more money, power and influence.
If there is any good news here, it is that the plight of the middle class is starting to attract much needed attention. In perhaps one of the best columns on the subject ever written, noted historian and classicist Victor Davis Hanson reveals how the political machinations at the state and federal levels treat middle class citizens more as second class indentured servants.
Hanson starts with noting what Obamacare does to the middle class: “The problem with Obamacare is that its well-connected and influential supporters — pet businesses, unions and congressional insiders — have already won exemption from it. The rich will always have their concierge doctors and Cadillac health plans. The poor can usually find low-cost care through Medicaid, federal clinics and emergency rooms. In contrast, those who have lost their preferred individual plans, or will pay higher premiums and deductibles, are largely members of the self-employed middle class. They are too poor to have their own exclusive health care coverage, but too wealthy for most government subsidies. So far, Obamacare is falling hardest on the middle class.”
Hanson then points out that policies of higher education — with expensive tuitions — protect the wealthy and the poor but hit the middle class hard, very hard: “Consider the trillion-dollar student-loan mess. Millions of young people do not qualify for grants predicated on income levels, ancestry or both. Nor are their parents wealthy enough to pay their tuition or room-and-board costs. The result is that the middle class — parents and students alike — has accrued a staggering level of student-loan debt.”
Next comes immigration. Open borders advocates and corporations have more in common than Americans concerned about finding and keeping their jobs. Hanson notes that “illegal immigration also largely comes at the expense of the middle class.”
Davis doesn’t stop with immigration. Policies on gun control, energy and the Fed’s quantitative easing are revealed to have deleterious effects on the middle class while sparing the rich and poor.
So what can be done to afford the middle class the degree of representation they are due? First, the middle class should realize that they — by virtue of their sheer numbers — constitute the largest block of registered voters. If citizen taxpayers ever come to grasp this simple truth and realize that they have little in common with powerful special interests, they could assert themselves more effectively in the political arena.
Second, ordinary taxpaying homeowners should focus more on the actual policies coming out of Washington and Sacramento and less on party affiliation or political labels such as “liberal” or “conservative.”
Third, the middle class should ignore the political messaging emanating from the political elites, including those in the anointed main stream media and do their homework to educate themselves on what is really going on. After all, veritas vos liberabit (the truth shall set you free).
Jon Coupal is president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association — California’s largest grass-roots taxpayer organization dedicated to the protection of Proposition 13 and the advancement of taxpayers’ rights.