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The American Dream Is Still Alive

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/Lynne Sladky

It’s time to leave the Impeachment Circus to play out on its own. Let’s stay focused on why the Republican Party needs to win in November.

According to U.S. Census Bureau figures, recent evidence suggests that the income inequality between the haves and have-nots in the United States grew last year grew to its highest level in more than 50 years. Contrary to what Democrats would have you believe, that is great news! People who are finding better jobs, being promoted into more responsible positions, and earning more profit in an expanding economy are leaving behind the people who settle for staying in dead-end jobs and depending upon government subsidies.

To keep citizens on the government dependency plantation, Democrats preach learned helplessness—there is nothing you can do to make a difference, so don’t even try. Their only hope is to depend on government subsidies at the expense of their more successful neighbors.

To justify their drive for power and the need for their dependency-creating entitlements, they’re doing everything they can to squash the American Dream for this and future generations. Leftist candidates would have you believe that The Dream is dead and out of the reach for today’s average citizen, justifying their wealth redistribution and expanded entitlement programs.

They want you to believe that America is “broken” and you are incapable of picking yourself up by your own bootstraps. They want you to believe that the wealthy don’t pay their “fair share,” in spite of the fact that the top 1% of wage earners pay 37.32% of federal income taxes and the bottom 50% only 3.04%.

They are mistaken. The American Dream is still alive for those willing to apply themselves. Yes, the gap between those in the top 1% and those in poverty has grown, but a closer look at longitudinal income mobility research indicates that the people who make up the "rich" and the "poor" change. Americans still move up and move down the income slide.

A 1995 study reported by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas followed 3,725 currently "poor" citizens for 17 years. To generalize from the study, only 1 out of 20 "poor" Americans remained poor. Thirteen percent had become "middle class," and six had become "rich," defined by reaching the top 20% of income producers.

In a U.S. Treasury study on income mobility from 1996 to 2005, we find evidence that there is no permanent membership in the upper-class or the under-class. Those with very high incomes in 1996--the top 1 percent--had their incomes cut in half by 2005. Many "rich" lost substantial income. Those trying to aspire to become rich—those in the top 20%--on average, increased their income ten percent. Those originally in the bottom 20 percent saw a 91 percent increase in income. In fact, roughly half of them increased their income right out of poverty! Unfortunately, since others lose jobs or fail in their business efforts, people move down into “poverty” to take their place. The large gap is still there but the people who populate the groups keep changing.

An expanded analysis of income mobility reveals some amazing findings. Cornell’s Thomas Hirschl looked at 44 years of longitudinal data to see what percentage of Americans experience different levels of affluence during their lives. He found that 12 percent of the population would experience being in the top 1 percent of income distribution for at least one year, 39 percent would spend a year in the top 5 percent. An impressive 73 percent will spend at least a year in the top 20 percent. From all the studies, it’s clear there is no static income distribution. It is equally true that on the bottom end of the distribution scale, 54 percent of Americans will experience poverty or near poverty at least once between the ages of 25 and 60.

It's time we focus on achievers who are still innovating, working hard and proving that the American Dream can dream at a time. For every victim the liberals talk about to justify bigger government and more entitlement programs, conservatives should honor a survivor—an individual who found a way to overcome obstacles to achieve their dream. Let their stories inspire and teach others to do the same. 

It's not government that makes America strong. It's our free, hard-working people that ensure our future and give our nation its strength. President Trump has again proven what conservative principles preach. When you stop punishing the productive and enslaving the dependent in programs that keep them trapped in poverty, Americans will find a way to succeed. Cut spending, cut taxes, cut regulations, and unleash the America Dream to take on the world. If we do, America will keep winning.

Democrats continue to sell low expectations to a new generation of Americans. They sell “you can’t,” while President Trump sells “you can.” There are jobs out there. There are entrepreneurs with innovations just waiting to be launched.

Ronald Reagan, when asked the secret for his success as president, said,“I appealed to your best hopes, not your worst fears, to your confidence, rather than your doubts.” Donald Trump is doing that again and the economy continues to prove that the American Dream is still very much alive. Make it so for you.

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