Almost 50 million Americans are now struggling to survive at or below the poverty line. But you wouldn’t know that from any of the speeches at this year’s political conventions.
You wouldn’t know it from the Republican convention, since all they could talk about were small businesses, “job creators,” and individuals against the tyranny of government. But you also wouldn’t know about it from last night’s speakers at the Democratic convention, who didn’t refer to anyone but the middle-class.
What about the other America? As David Firestone explains, the Democrats wouldn’t even talk about the impact of Obamacare on poor people’s access to healthcare.
After years of waiting for Democrats to acknowledge President Obama’s pre-eminent achievement – health care reform – it was good to hear them talk about it with pride from the convention stage on Tuesday night. Speaker after speaker reminded the audience of the law, vigorously refuting the Republican dogma that it is an Orwellian disaster.
For all the enthusiasm there was one thing Democrats didn’t talk about much, and it just happens to be the main purpose of the law: providing health coverage for 30 million uninsured people, many of them poor.
Democrats have been glossing over this essential fact since the law was written. The Obama administration and its Congressional allies were afraid their opponents would accuse them of creating another social program for the poor, so they added a large number of other (very significant) benefits to the law to make sure the middle class felt its impact.
Inevitably, Republicans accused them of creating another social program for the poor anyway. And just as inevitably, Democrats have spent most of their time talking about the middle-class benefits.
Enough already! Enough with this obsession with the middle-class. The folks who are hurting right now are working-class and poor people, both those who are working and those who can’t find a job. And can’t afford health insurance. And can’t afford to stay in their homes or send their kids to college.
They’re the people we should be talking about. They’re the victims of the Second Great Depression. And they’re neither employers nor the middle-class.
They’re the other America, which is growing larger by the day.