Washington, D.C. — They are talking about addressing income inequality, boosting wages, solving poverty, and many other issues that actually impact middle-class Americans, but Donald Trump, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s Republican Party forgot a key ingredient: actually having new policies that will help middle-class families. A new report released today from the Center for American Progress Action Fund shows how Republican candidates have largely shifted their rhetoric away from traditional trickle-down economic themes, even as they continue to espouse the same policies that have led to middle-class Americans being squeezed by rising costs and stagnant wages. The rhetoric, simply put, does not meet the reality.
The new report, titled “The Middle Class at Risk,” details how new rhetoric from Republicans fails to match up with the reality of their policies, as they continue to oppose policies that recognize a 21st century workplace, help families juggle the demands of work and home, and boost incomes.
“A growing number of Republican candidates have shifted away from talking about wealthy business owners being job creators and trickle-down economic theories to focus more on language that appeals directly to a struggling middle class,” said Arkadi Gerney, Senior Vice President of Campaigns and Strategies at the Center for American Progress Action Fund and co-author of the report. “Words mean very little to families feeling squeezed, however, and many GOP candidates continue to stand in the way of real solutions. Taking old wine and putting it in new bottles does little to help American families get ahead.”
The report examines Republican presidential candidates’ policy plans and their records as governors and in Congress. Of the 12 states with laws preempting localities from taking actions such as increasing the minimum wage or offering paid sick leave, 11 were passed by a GOP governor and legislature since 2011. Gov. Scott Walker actually signed into law a bill that nullified Milwaukee’s 2008 paid sick leave law, which could have helped more than 120,000 workers. And while blocking increases to the minimum wage, many GOP hopefuls come from states that would benefit the most from raising it. South Carolina, Kentucky, Texas, and Louisiana are among the top 15 states that would benefit from a hike to a $12 per hour minimum wage.
Other findings from the report include:
- If a Republican candidate becomes president and spends two terms in office continuing to block a minimum wage increase—a continuation of Republican candidates’ positions today—the value of the minimum wage would fall below $6 an hour in today’s dollars, the lowest in 70 years.
- In 2014, 41 Republican senators with an average net worth of $8.1 million—including several current presidential candidates—voted against giving low-income Americans a nearly $6,000 annual raise.
- More higher education cuts have occurred in states under Republican leadership than under Democratic leadership. Between 2007 and 2014, real state funding for public education grew under Democratic governors and fell 10 percent in states with Republican governors. This also led to higher tuition increases.
“Many of today’s GOP candidates have promoted policies that attack workers, attempted to block key reforms that helped Americans gain access to affordable health care, and choked funding for vital institutions such as public colleges and universities,” said Anna Chu, Vice President of of Policy and Research at the Center for American Progress Action Fund and co-author of the report. “Now that we are seeing a struggling middle class as a result of these top-down policies, the candidates are changing their rhetoric, but their policies are the same.”
Read the full report “The Middle Class At Risk: The Dangerous Gap Between the Rhetoric and Reality of Republican Prescriptions for the Economy“
For more information or to speak to an expert, contact Benton Strong at 202.481.8142 or firstname.lastname@example.org.