Middle class, middle class, where art thou? Democrats ask

Sen. Harmon no exception

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By Jim Bowman


This middle-class business is the current touchstone for Illinois Dems. 

Whatever happened to poor people? asks a Wed. Journal reader of the very busy Sen. Don Harmon.

What about the poor, Senator ? The Rauner budget hurts the poor even more than the middle class. But no politician speaks for the poor! The cuts to basic services for the poor are creating extreme hardship and suffering. . . . 

Harmon had talked middle-classism up in a column.

I'm working on a solution [he wrote] to provide tax fairness for the middle class. My solution is a fair income tax, one where higher rates would apply to higher incomes and lower rates would apply to lower incomes. It's logical and allows middle class families to keep more of their hard-earned money. 

Other references dot the landscape of his column: "working families . . . regular families . . . real families" and "middle class" itself four times, including this amazing rhetorical judo move, following a litany of complaints about Rauner's plan:

That's class warfare, aimed squarely at the middle class. The only people who benefit from Gov. Rauner's agenda are his corporate pals.

No high-school debater ever did better. This Democrat knows class warfare when he sees it. 

He was on message, one that he was pushing mightily, an agenda embodied in a series of "Middle-Class Agenda" proposals billed as alternative to Rauner's "turnaround agenda." (From what to what is at issue here.)

This agenda has no surprises for most Illinoisans who read newspapers.

The legislation would boost the state minimum wage, give tax credits for college costs, guarantee up to seven paid sick days for full and part-time workers, cover two years of tuition and fees for eligible community college students, and end business tax breaks to save Illinois $334 million.

Familiar enough. But poor people?

Not in the present equation, which calls for getting a budget passed that defeats Rauner. Dems are fast on their feet, thus the current pitch. 

Last time around, in the general election a few months back, Rauner had the winning message. Dems are trying to poach on that, of course. 

So they push this middle-class emphasis, ad nauseam for people who remember their poor-people emphasis of not so long ago. Light on their feet they are.

Email: jimbowman7@aol.com Twitter: @BlitheSp

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