Even as the president spoke of income inequality and the need to address issues directly affecting America’s middle class and poor, in his most recent policy speech this week, some democrats were also pressing center line members to address these same issues. Liberal democrats called for a stronger consensus on economic policies that will reflect the most pressing economic issues in the country today. They pointed to the decline of the city of Detroit as well as to new reports that show an ever shrinking amount of mobility between the classes. Additionally, the plight of young people, seniors and lower income members of society was pointed out, as one that they party must take up in order to help counteract the harsh economic climate to represent the most vulnerable members of society.
Iowa Senator Tom Harken called for a return to what he described as a “Good, progressive populist message” which he said would help unite the party. Neera Tanden, President of the Liberal Center For American Progress applauded democrats on the advance made on social policy, while at the same time urging for a unified shift to the left of center regarding upcoming economic policy decisions. Tanden also wants the party to become more aggressive on the issue of ever growing income inequality.
Elizabeth Warren continues to challenge those democrats who hold centrist views when it comes to financial policy. Warren is lobbying for support of a new Glass Steagall bill, which will rebuild the wall between investment and commercial banking. Warren also continues to be outspoken on student debt and the high interest rates being charged to students who take advantage of Federal student loans.
In her first major speech since leaving her post as U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton also addressed income inequality and the dire situation which faces the poor and middle classes all across the country. “In too many places in our own country community institutions are crumbling, social and public health indicators are cratering amd jobs are coming apart amd communities face the consequences” she said, while speaking at the Clinton Global Initiative In Chicago.
Some democrats have held the view that taking a center line position on economic issues is the only way for them to win elections. As members of the party step up to confront that view and press for a stronger consensus on these important issues, can we hope that other members will join them? In 2011 an ABC news report showed that 6 in 10 American’s support policies addressing income inequality. That number has only increased since reports from 2012 show an ever widening gap between the rich and the poor and a disappearing middle class. With strong public support behind them, democrats would do well to counteract some of the economic damage done by the extreme right with policies which are left of center.