As a long-time loyal Republican and “political observer” I marvel at the ability of President Obama and his Democrat Party message machine to concoct or resurrect wedge issues that are captured in catchy phrases and used to successfully polarize the nation.
The phrase is then turned into fundraising gold, ground up into red meat to feed base Democrat voter groups, used to demonize Republicans, positioned to attract favorable attention from the mainstream media and framed to help win elections.
In 2012, such a phrase was the “War on Women” and it contributed to President Obama’s reelection with women comprising 55 percent of Obama voters, compared to men at 45 percent.
Now in 2014, it sure looks like President Obama and Democrats are making "Income Inequality" their new “War on Women” and, as usual, Democrat wedge issue facts are inconvenient and emotion rules the day.
In fact, you can watch President Obama at his State of the Union address on January 28 as he positions “income inequality” as THE issue for 2014.
Obama laid the groundwork for his latest crusade during a speech on December 4, 2013 at the liberal leaning, Center for American Progress when he called income inequality "the defining challenge of our time."
Positioning income inequality in such terms so early in this election year is a smart Democrat strategy and harkens back to Romney’s “47 percent” statement that Obama so brilliantly used against him in 2012.
In concert with President Obama, income inequality is being widely discussed by the mainstream media, also in relation to extending unemployment benefits.
However, I believe all this media attention is meant to distract the majority of American voters away from both Obamacare disaster stories and their growing distrust of big government.
There is no doubt that income inequality is a by-product of the free-market system but current economic facts revealed by Obama’s own administration do not bode well for President Obama to embrace such a narrative in the sixth year of his presidency.
According to the President’s own U.S. Census Bureau a study dated September 2013 entitled, Income Poverty and Health Insurance coverage in the United States in 2012 reveals: “In 2012, real median household income was 8.3 percent lower than in 2007, the year before the most recent recession.”
So here is Obama’s own Census Bureau admitting real income has decreased substantially under his administration compared to 2007 when President Bush was in office. This is a fact you will not hear Obama quoting in 2014.
The study also reports: “Real median household income in 2012 was not statistically different from the 2011 median income.”
In other words, under President Obama’s policies, income did not grow from 2011 to 2012 but neither he, nor the media will be broadcasting this statistic.
Here are more revealing facts as to why Obama’s income inequality “mantra” is nothing more than a contrived political issue meant to appeal to his demographic base -- especially those making less than $50,000 a year who say the economy is unfair by a margin of 73 to 24 percent.
In the 50 years since President Lyndon Johnson declared his “War on Poverty,” income disparity between races has not changed according to this chart in the 2013 Census report.
The chart reveals that in 2012 African Americans real median household income was $33,312. For Hispanics it was $39,005, for Whites it was $57,009, and Asians had the highest income of all the races at $68,636. In 2012 the average median household income in the U.S. was $51,017.
Now looking at 1965 (using 2012 dollars) Black income was $25,000. In 1973, Hispanic median income was $37,000 (1973 was the first year Hispanic income was measured on this chart). Also in 1973 White income was $51,000. (Again, the first year White income was measured separately) In 1987, the first year Asian income was measured separately it was a whopping $62,000.
Then, for all races in 1965 the median household income was $43,000.
These consistent income disparities among the races, decades apart, could lead one to conclude that since 1965, race is the factor that most affects your income and contributes to income inequality.
But is THAT really true?
For here is a Census report info-nugget revealing the key to upward mobility and increased income: “Households with householders who had lower levels of education were more likely to remain in or move into a lower quintile than households whose householders had higher levels of education.”
That statement is of course uncommon, common sense and is one way to explain why 15 percent, or close to 50 million Americans, are living at or below the poverty line which is $23,492 for a family of four in 2012.
On the other end of the income scale, the groups comprising the top one-third of all incomes are headed by a person who usually has a college or post-graduate degree and their household income is above $100,000 annually.
Next up is the five percent tier comprised of those making more than $150,000 annually per person or household.
Finally at the top are the politically incorrect “1 percenters” who have household annual incomes of more than $250,000 and usually much advanced education.
The socio-political lesson here is that college-level education coupled with sought-after skills, and also vocational training in highly paid trades such as plumbing/electrical etc., on a much grander scale than what is currently happening, would dramatically help close the income/ inequality gap -- rather than President Obama’s current political whining about how our economic system is unfair and unequal.
Furthermore, it is no coincidence that Asians have the highest incomes and 42 percent of all Asian-American adults have at least a college degree -- making them the nation’s most educated and successful major racial/ethnic group.
Compare Asian educational attainment to that of the 32 percent of White Americans over the age of 18 who are college educated and the only 18.6 percent of African American adults with college degrees, and thus you have identified one of the main factors behind our nation’s persistent income inequality problem.
Meanwhile, according to the Gates Foundation, low Hispanic college graduation rates along with the growing Hispanic population signals trouble ahead for our nation’s economic future.
In 2014, while President Obama plays the income inequality blame game as the new “defining challenge of our time” and one that after six years in office his policies did nothing to alleviate, perhaps Republicans should adopt the fact-based message of “act Asian, get educated, learn some hard skills that our modern economy needs and THEN you will be highly compensated and rise to the top of the income scale.”
But the GOP had better act fast with their counter-message before Obama’s latest wedge issue, his 2014 version of the “War on Women” gains traction in the national psyche and becomes an electoral movement.
Then maybe it is already too late based on how often the term income inequality has been over-used in the media recently. Of course the political translation of this phrase is “rich Republicans do not care about average Americans.”
Inevitably on Election Day there is a good chance the GOP will be blamed if Obama and the Democrats are as successful as they were with "The War on Women." in positioning the "income inequality" issue against the GOP.