After their massive defeats in the midterm elections, many Democrats are calling for the party to move away from its emphasis on social issues and embrace a call for higher wages and an end to stagnant working class incomes. But they miss the point. Both in fact and in perception, their pro-immigration stance puts them on the wrong side of the issue.
AFL-CIO President Richard L. Trumka called on Hillary to “run on a raising-wages agenda and not cater to Wall Street but to everyday people.”
The New York Times notes that as Democrats sift through the returns, they see that “lower-income voters either supported Republicans or did not vote.” The paper said that “liberals argue that without a more robust message about economic fairness, the party will continue to suffer among working-class voters, particularly in the South and Midwest.”
But both Trumka and the Times miss the key point: You can’t be for raising downscale wages and opening the doors of our nation to millions of low income immigrants at the same time. They are mutually contradictory both economically and politically.
Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, an ultra-leftist, came closer to the mark when he said that “Too many Democrats are too close to Wall Street” and that “too many Democrats support trade agreements that outsource jobs, and too many Democrats are too willing to cut Social Security — and that’s why we lose elections.”
But Brown’s argument collapses when he leaves immigration off his list.
Under Obama, three out of every four newly created jobs went to people not born in the United States according to the Census Bureau. The resultant downward pressure on wages makes income inequality worse. Proposals to raise the minimum wage are largely beside the point — only ten percent of those at this wage level are in poverty, the rest are second and third incomes in their families.
To raise the wages of the heads of households, the left cannot continue to force them to compete with newly arrived immigrants who are willing to work for next to nothing.
The liberal agenda of tougher regulation of banks, student loan forgiveness, and even revisions in trade policy simply won’t address the problem sufficiently.
In one stroke of the pen, President Obama will justify working class angst about the Administration’s economic policy when he ends deportations of illegal immigrants.
Message to Obama and the left: Immigration is the economic issue of our time.
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