The End of the Rockefeller Republicans, The Rise of the Republican Welfare State

aeiBy Alex Gonzalez

The rise of Donald Trump in the Republican Party primary is a sign of political anger many have over the gridlock in Washington D.C. However, most national surveys show that this feeling of anger is predominantly among “less educated” who support Trump because they see in him a “strongman” willing to speak his mind without following any Party protocol or Party ideology on economic conservatism, free market policies, or fixing Entitlements. The irony here is that, albeit this  wave of anger from this Trump’s supporters is directed to “Wall Street” and the business class, Wall Street and businesses that are creating jobs and funding the government programs for this bloc of voters made of less educated and aging tea party white seniors.

Most recent national surveys show that  Yes, Donald Trump likely has greater appeal among less educated Americans. And this “less educated” bloc of supporters blame “Wall Street,” the businesses community and immigrants, despite the fact that business class and Wall Street and immigrants fund most Entitlement programs going to these Trump’s supporters. For example, last March the Pew Center released a report showing that “Some six-in-ten Americans said they were bothered a lot by the feeling that “some wealthy people” and “some corporations” don’t pay their fair share.” But the actual numbers shows the opposite;  the report shows that :

People with adjusted gross incomes above $250,000 paid nearly half (48.9%) of all individual income taxes, though they accounted for only 2.4% of all returns filed….By contrast, people whose incomes were less than $50,000 accounted for 63.4% of all individual income tax returns filed in 2013, but they paid just 6.2% of total taxes; their average tax rate was 4.2%.

When 2.4% of tax payers pay half all revenue for the federal government  one could argue that those making 250,000 are being over-taxed since they collect less services from the government.  However, these populist less educate voters supporting Trump blame Wall Street, businesses, free trade agreements (NAFTA) and immigrants; but these are the same (aging) “white” tea party and less educated “white blue-collar” social conservative voters that soon will be opposing any changes to the “welfare state”–Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid; and thus, creating permanent gap between “Rockefeller” business Republicans class and a low-income “less educated” whites, and tea party social conservative base who will want to talk about abortion, gay marriage, and immigration while opposing or avoiding cutting Entitlements.

In 2012, though the GOP lost the election and two seats in the U.S. Senate and the Republican Party gained white voters. The post-election analysis underlines that the GOP lead among white men has doubled from 11 points in 2008 (51% Republican or lean Republican vs. 40% Democrats). But also The Pew Center points out that:

lower-income and less educated whites also have shifted substantially toward the Republican Party since 2008. The GOP has largely erased the wide lead Democrats had among white voters with family incomes less than $30,000. And middle-income whites ($30,000-$74,999), who were split between the parties four years ago, now favor the GOP by 17 points. By contrast, there has been no shift among higher income whites, who favor the GOP by roughly the same margin today as in 2008. Similarly, whites without a college degree now tilt decidedly toward the Republican Party – the GOP now holds a 54% to 37% advantage among non-college whites, who were split about evenly four years ago.

The Rise of the Republican Welfare State.

As new census shows, in some of the most Republican counties in Texas, there is growth of the senior population (65 and older). But Texas is not different than Arizona, California and Florida—states with large Latino population. In addition, each year 4, 000,000 million of baby boomers become eligible to receive Medicare and Social Security benefits. And at least half these boomers are low-income whites hit by the rescission of 2007 who currently find Trump message of “fences” and restrictionist trade policies appealing.

This recession-induced growth exacerbates the long time trend in Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program growth that has resulted in its real expenditures increasing sevenfold, from $18 billion (2010 dollars) in 1970 to $128 billion in 2010. And this is the same class of non-college poor white voters coming to Republican Party that will opposed cutting any services to Medicare and Social Security benefits.

Also, most tea partiers–just like less educated low-income “white” – will oppose any changes to Entitlements system. Consequently, there is ongoing fusion between of ideological ultra-conservatives tea partiers and less educate poor whites, both groups are heavily enrolled in government programs, and they are adopting an anti-business sentiments by blaming Wall Street, free trade agreements and immigrants for everything that is wrong with the country.

Moreover, when 60% of the GOP base is made of those making between $30,000 to 75,000 (or 43% making less than $30,000) and 54% does not have any college education, it means the GOP base is on a path to “welfare state” model; and it means that the money will have to come from some place to pay for Entitlements in their retirement years.

Most conservative think tanks like the Heritage Foundation, CATO, American Enterprise Institute and the Hoover Institution agree that the cause of the National Debt and Deficit is directly associated with the increase of healthcare services provided to seniors, and to an Entitlements “epidemic” that consumes 60 percent of our budget–$2 trillion each year, and growing. And even though substantial evidence exists showing how an immigration Bill will help pay for entitlements and that free trade trades create jobs for American workers, Tea Party groups and Trump supporters oppose these policies.

In 2013-14, the House opposed an immigration Bill to rally the poor white voter base, and to make Obama  a “pro-Amnesty” president while Republicans touted a “no-Amnesty” message to avoid angering this groups of people that now support Trump religiously regardless of facts, or conservative policy direction; but  Republicans pushed away a business community that wanted immigrants to be part of an economic recovery to grow the economy faster and stronger. see chart bellow showing where your taxes go in term of funding for seniors. the graphs shows that the federal government will pay most of healthcare services to seniors via Medicare or Medicaid. 


Some conservatives insist that Republicans could have won the W.H. in 2012 without the Latino vote if only more whites had voted. And writer for the national review, like Rich Lowry, and the Heritage Foundation are currently arguing that Republicans need to “pander” to Donald Trump; they don’t argue that Trump’s views are right, but rather that the populism and the anti-Washington sentient is real and the Republicans should rally behind.

But they are deceiving themselves thinking that a Trump’s platform of populism is a winning strategy to win the White House with only white votes. Winning the White House requires more than 40% of the Latino vote –even higher now that when W. Bush won 40% in 2004 – from at least 5-6 states, pockets of Latino voters spread in swing states. So white alone is not the answer, as Karl Rove also argues.

Moreover, “safe” Republican districts only represent those districts but not the Republican national platform promoted by the Republican National Committee (RNC) or by business Republicans in Wall Street. More importantly, this strategy of “white voters” only further confines Republicans to the same smaller white base without reaching out to Latinos, young voters and the businesses community in urban areas; and thereby, pushing the Party farther into to smaller, aging. and less educated poor white voters. Also, these “safe” districts will  be redone in 2020 when new Census numbers come out. So even a safe districts plan is just a temporary fix.

The End of the Rockefeller Republicans

Wall Street Republican (the so-called Rockefeller Republicans), the  U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the RNC supported an immigration reform and reform to Entitlement programs, but they are constantly clashing with social conservatives, and Tea Party groups, who oppose any type of reform to either immigration or Entitlements. Hence, this new influx of low-income and less educated white voters and tea partiers will inevitable be in a collision course and business Republicans; poor whites, less educate,  and tea partiers will want their Entitlements, even if it means tax increases on businesses. Where else will the money come to pay for services provided for the millions of poor white voters and Tea Party boomers who oppose Entitlements reform?

Another example of the rise of this Republican welfare state mantra is exemplified by Mike Huckabee’s positions on Medicare and Social Security. When announcing his presidential bid Huckabee told the audience that:

You were forced to pay for Social Security and Medicare for 50 years. The government grabs money from our paychecks and says it will be waiting for us when we turn 65. If Congress wants to take away someone’s retirement, let them end their own Congressional pensions — not your Social Security. As president, I promise you will get what you paid for!

However, all economists, as well as all conservative think tanks, this math is inconsistent with current funding for Social Security and Medicare since an average people pay only about 40 percent of what the collect though these services. Thus, there is a sense of entitlement among these beneficiaries, especially if they are blue-collar or older, that populist politicians like Huckabee use to instigate anti-government emotions to avoid cutting entitlements

Consequently, a less educated base, coupled with aging tea party seniors, will create a Republican bloc of voters that will oppose any reforms to Social Security Disability Insurance program (SSDI), Medicare, Social Security benefits and Medicaid. And therefore transforming the GOP into new party with little appeal to the traditional  Rockefeller Republican  businesses class or high-income earners since the party will be ran by a small cadre of social conservative leaders like Mike Huckbee and Trump, populists who will have no desire to promote fiscal conservative mantras over abortion, gay marriage, and immigration. Therefore, the traditional Rockefeller Republican business class may lose the battle for control of the GOP to  large less educated poor white social conservative voting class with little incentives to fix Entitlements.

Of course, there are conservative skeptics who say that no precious data is offered up to buttress the assumption that Immigration is the primary motivators for Latino voters, and some GOP Latino operative make the argument as long as the GOP candidates keep the focus on education and Jobs. But to think that 40% of Latino in 2004 to 27% in 2012 is not solid a indicator how Latinos see this issue is also false assumption. I can also offer data state-by-state showing how the Latino vote is getting smaller. 

Too many just simply argue that as soon as Latino become middle-class or high-income they will pivot to the Republican side, but that is also a myth. As the Latino middle-class in Texas, California, and even Cuban-Americans in Florida keeps growing, the share of Latinos voting for Republican is going in the opposite direction.

Latinos in Florida (Cuban-Americans) and in Texas (Mexican-Americans) have the most integrated Latino subgroups in the nation, but they now vote less for Republicans in both states than they did six years ago.  But even in Texas and Florida where the GOP had strong hold with Latinos, the share of Latino vote in each state has drop by 20% in each state from 2010 to 2012–see charts.

Surveys show that the more educated you are, and the higher your income, the less likely is that people will support a “social conservative” Republican agenda on gay marriage and abortion. And this is the same for Latinos.

by-state-e1372973563519Hence, there is something that the Latinos business class, middle-class, does not like about Republicans.  And even as Hispanics will represent $1.5T in purchasing power in 2015– they could be the new Rockefeller Republicans–they will coming to GOP in droves as long as there is wave of Trumpism, and tea party, within the GOP. Why? Well,  just like Wall Street Republicans, business middle-class Latinos do not approve of populist Tea Party rhetoric that is turning into new a “class war fare.”

between 2013-14, The Republican Party in the House opted to avoid the issues of immigration to give more leverage to Republican in the House in safe districts (opposing Amnesty), and instead, focus on abortion and gay marriage, defunding Obamacare, to attract more of these low-income white voters. But this will have serious ramifications for an economic recovery and any reform to Entitlements, and it hampers the ability of the GOP to win a presidential general election and to remain relevant nationally and to cut Entitlements. Also, this has created, and will continues to create a rift with business Republicans.

So opposing an immigration Bill in the House in 2013-14 to rally the the “white base”, but pushing Latino voters away with Trumpism and tea party messages is also a self-destructing strategies. With a strategy “only white voters” the GOP may be indulging  in a path to becoming the party welfare and Entitlements for less educated poor aging whites who soon will look to Medicare and Social Security as a source of income in their retirement years, and they will even enrolled in Obamacare to  cover their health care cost.

Unless the Republican Party stops pretending that “white vote only,” made of less educated and white seniors, is viable solution to rebuild the party and win the W.H., the party bosses are in fact setting the path for the end of the Republican Rockefeller and let  the big government populist class take over the party.

Alex Gonzalez  is a political Analyst and Political Director for Latinos Ready To Vote!  He received a Bachelors Degree and a Masters’ Degree, with emphasis in American politics from  from San Francisco State University.comments to @AlexGonzTXCA

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