Anyone who tuned in to last night’s GOP presidential debate was likely surprised to hear the candidates talking about the plight of the middle class. After years of favoring wealthy special interests that ship jobs overseas and treat workers as commodities, the Republican Party now cares about the little guy!
While clearly Republicans are making a point of going after middle class voters this election, their policy plans and records indicate that they will continue putting corporate special interests and the richest first and leaving everybody else behind.
Joining other candidates who last night bashed President Obama instead of laying out their own economic plans, Carly Fiorina said that 92% of the jobs lost during the president’s first term belonged to women. This statement, as Mitt Romney learned in 2012, is false. Fiorina closed her argument by saying, “I am a conservative because I know our values, our principles, and our policies will work better to lift everyone up, men and women.”
While this has a nice ring to it, during her tenure as CEO of Hewlett-Packard, Carly Fiorina laid off 30,000 workers while earning $102 million in total compensation (including a golden parachute after she ran the company into the ground). This type of corporate influence will not lift up middle class families or anyone who isn’t already at the top.
Like Fiorina, Marco Rubio spoke frequently about the middle class in last night’s debate, saying that his tax plan will not give the largest advantage to the wealthiest Americans. But his tax plan would cut the top federal income tax rate nearly five percent, and reinstate corporate tax breaks. In fact, the conservative Tax Foundation estimates that Rubio’s plan would cut taxes an average of 17.8 percent for all taxpayers — but 27.9 percent for the wealthiest 1%.
So while Republicans are speaking about the middle class as if we are their biggest concern, they do so in the absence of discussing any real plans to help out working families. On the other hand, Democratic candidates continue to lay out their vision for America’s future to help everyone get ahead— through earned family leave, equal pay, affordable tuition, minimum wage increases and more.
Until Republican candidates put forward real plans that benefit middle class families, their efforts to empathize with average Americans’ struggles should be seen as nothing more than an attempt to catch up to Democrats in the polls.