With the Congressional election a month away, Democrats are offering another reason to vote for change: middle class anxiety under the Bush administration. At a recent event, Democratic senators released a report detailing the financial troubles facing America’s middle class, and placed the blame squarely with the Bush Administration and the Republican-controlled Congress. Democrats explained that the middle class “ now finds itself squeezed between rising costs and stagnant wages” and promised policies “that will create better jobs at better pay, affordable and accessible health care and education, and an ease to the middle-class squeeze.” [http://democrats.senate.gov/newsroom/record.cfm?id=263502&]
Promises to help the middle class are as common in campaigns as yard signs. Both political parties claim their agenda will benefit the middle class the most. Democrats typically see more government—new regulations and services—as the solution. They push for a higher minimum wage, more government provided healthcare, more government funding for daycare, subsidies for college costs, and other government programs. Republicans traditionally view government as the problem and the market as the path to greater affordability. Republicans champion tax cuts, greater competition in healthcare, and fewer regulations.
Yet there may be some common ground. If Democrats listen to the authors of their recently released report, “Increasing Pressure on the Middle Class,” there is the chance for bipartisan agreement on one agenda item to ease the middle Americans financial strain: education reform and school choice.
Elizabeth Warren and Amelia Warren Tyagi, who wrote the report highlighted by Senate Democrats, also wrote a book called The Two Income Trap: Why Middle-Class Mothers and Fathers Are Going Broke. In their book, Warren and Tyagi highlight why parents make significant financial sacrifices—and take significant risks—to pay for an expensive home: they want to give their children the best start possible, and “the best possible start begins with good schools, but parents are scrambling to find those schools.”