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June 21, 2006

DMI Report Card: 99% of House Republicans fail middle class

It's mid-term, and The Drum Major Institute report cards are being sent home to voters. How much are our elected representatives doing to defend and enlarge the middle class? Well, according to DMI, 99% of House Republicans get a failing grade for defending the middle class. House Democrats fared slightly better, only 11% flunked outright, but a paltry 44% earned an A-grade.

Support for the middle class declined in both parties compared to last year. DMI notes that Democratic performance slid precipitously this year. Democrats were generally solid on issues like the minimum wage, but most weren't willing to stand up for the middle class against corporate interests. For example, large numbers of Democrats caved to heavy lobbying on the Energy Bill, the Bankruptcy Bill, and corporate lawsuit protection legislation (aka "tort reform").

Legislative report cards are meaningless unless you know which legislation was used to calculate the scores. Here's a list of the bills that the Drum Major Institute fellows used to determine lawmakers' middle class records for 2005: Yes to negotiating prescription drug prices; no to the bankruptcy bill; no to Sensenbrenner's immigration bill; no to gutting class action lawsuits; no to estate tax repeal; no to deficit reduction through Medicaid cuts; no to CAFTA; no the Republican energy bill; yes to increasing the minimum wage; yes to the Senate resolution to support Social Security; and no to exempting Association Health Plans from regulation. (The list includes both House and Senate legislation. Obviously, House members only get scored on the House bills, Senators on the Senate bills.) Tabulated results here.

I really like the DMI's evaluation criteria. I also have to compliment them for investing in an appealing, functional website to present the data. There's lots of interesting discussion of the report card on the DMI blog.

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Comments

i may have to steal that at corrente. thanks for the update.

I give you an "A" for issues, writing and photography, but an "F" for your coverage of Brangelina and their new ├╝berspawn. Obviously there's some room for improvement, Lindsay, so let's not cast stones in our glass house, okay?

In the interest of full disclosure...

I got an A+ from the National League of Cocksucking Voters, but only a B from the Concerned Rad Fems for America. (That last one is graded on a harsh curve, though. So I don't mind. I'm sure I can pull up my grade by the end of the semester.)

I also got a D- on Ninja-sensitivity Issues from the Shogun of South Brooklyn. They told me it was a gut course!

I got an A+ from the National League of Cocksucking Voters,...

That statement alone will boost your search scores in the adult search engine arena.

...but only a B from the Concerned Rad Fems for America. (That last one is graded on a harsh curve, though. So I don't mind. I'm sure I can pull up my grade by the end of the semester.)

Boosting your Concerned Rad Fems grade will cost you dearly in your score from National League of Cocksucking Voters. At least that's my theory.

I also got a D- on Ninja-sensitivity Issues from the Shogun of South Brooklyn.

Lindsay, Jr. will be so disappointed.

OK, three of these don't make sense to me as middle class issues:

Class Action reform--that's a Big Law vs Big Corporation issue--affects the middle class very indirectly

Medicaid cuts--if you are middle class, you aren't eligible for Medicaid

Association Health Plans--it's unclear to me why treating AHP's like large corporations' (ERISA) plans rather than individual plans is bad for the middle class--most of the middle class gets their insurance through ERISA or government plans.

The Class Action Fairness Act is frequently misunderstood as a big law vs. big corporations issue, but in fact it affects many middle-class Americans very intimately and directly. Basically, the Act reduces the disincentive for corporations to cut corners on product safety and discriminatory business practices. That doesn't just affect lawyers or people filing lawsuits -- as we explain in the discussion of the bill, it affects anyone who buys products or services, has job where they could be discriminated against, or is exposed to marketing. This is a consumer and employment issue, and a core middle-class issue.

In terms of Medicaid cuts, there are a few points to make. First, as we note throughout the scorecard, the report isn't just about people who are currently middle class but also those who aspire to a middle-class standard of living. Many Medicaid beneficiaries aspire to be middle class. Low-income children in particular stand a better chance of accessing the middle class later in life if they receive good health care in their early years. Second, the bill that includes the Medicaid cuts also includes numerous other provisions relevant to both the middle class and aspiring middle class. Among the ones we discuss most extensively is the bill's impact on college loan programs which affect both middle-class families paying for their childrens' education and the ability of low-income students to get the education they need to enter the middle class.

The AHP bill has has a particularly clear impact on the middle class. Many middle-class people work for and own small businesses. Not all are covered by ERISA or government plans.

I hope this sheds some light on the legislation we've included. I admit, we do fall short on the coverage of Brangelina.

Amy Traub, Associate Director of Research, Drum Major Institute for Public Policy

Very nice. I'm glad people have started to remember finally that having a big middle class is a good thing. The weird part about Republican campaigning is that they evoke nostaglia for the 50s when the middle class was growing, and then do everything in their power to prevent their voters from getting what they want.

Welcome to the class warfare.


Update: The rich are winning.

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