I have constantly argued that as Republicans continue to “gray,” it will be more difficult for Republican Party to reform entitlements, and this was obvious Tuesday night during the GOP debate when Mike Huckabee and Marco Rubio openly promoted keeping and creating government programs to help low-income families and aging seniors.
On Social Security, Huckabee has criticized Chris Christie for proposing changes to Social Security that include raising the retirement age to put it on sounder financial footing.
“Those are not entitlements and that’s not welfare and by gosh you paid for it and if the government screwed it up you shouldn’t have to pay the penalty,” Huckabee said on Tuesday night .
But in reality, people don’t pay into the system to cover what they receive from the government when they retire. As the chart shows, the numbers of Americans reaching retirement is greater than the number entering the labor market that funds the program.
The scale of Social Security’s reach is enormous; and It is the biggest federal-government program, the largest tax most American workers pay, and the largest source of retirement income for most households. But when population ages and the ratio of workers to beneficiaries falls – as it has, from about 16-to-1 in 1950 to less than 3-to-1 today; and soon it will be 2-to-1.
And this is an issue that most Republicans don’t want to touch, and only few like Chris Christie are brave enough to tell primary voters, who tend to be older and “white,” that the current system is unsustainable.
The other big government enabler is Marco Rubio who is proposing a child tax credit, which would increase to $2,500 from $1,000. Rubio defended it in general terms as pro-family, which means that people who don’t pay income taxes would still receive a government check.
Mr. Rubio said the payments would offset payroll taxes too, but he never did respond to the point that at a cost of some $15 trillion over 10 years in forgone revenue the credit would be a vast new entitlement through the tax code that wouldn’t help the economy.
The reason for this new tax credit is because there is new emerging coalition of Republicans that blue-collar, less educated in read state, formally known as
This chart shows not only that Republicans are “graying” but the party is becoming regional and “whiter.” The chart above shows why this new coalition of conservative voters is also related to age, region and race. In 2015, the demographic groups in the Republicans column are Tea Partiers, white southerners, white Men over 50 and seniors over 65. Conversely, the Democrats is made of white liberals, blacks, Latinos, women ages 18 to 49 and North- easterners. Moreover, apart for social issues, the Republican Party is more likely to become whiter and poorer since the share of blue-collar workers identifying themselves as Republicans has risen to 44% from 35%.
And the new GOP coalition is getting bigger whiter and amassing power in states’ legislatures due to social issues and demographics changes; but it is also getting older, less educated and poorer. Ronald Brownstein from the National Journal argues that both parties are being disrupted by economic and social changes; and this changes are creating new coalitions.
“Nationally, Republicans are amassing enormous margins from groups who are the most uneasy about these cultural changes: older, blue-collar, nonurban, and religious whites who fiercely are resisting these trends on issues from immigration to gay marriage, and abortion. Republicans have established unchallenged control over 20 states as the “conservative heartland” But that this very success threatens the GOP with a “death spiral” in presidential elections because “the battle for traditional values … only further alienate[s] the Republicans from the burgeoning new electorate” like Latinos millennials and other subgroups of voters in large coastal urban areas.”
Evidently, this new conservative coalition is fueled by populism, and he fourth GOP debate illustrated how Republicans are competing to bridge their populist message. But this new conservative whiter coalition composed of less educated and older whites will be prone to believe incendiary anti-immigrant rhetoric espoused by people like Donald Trump and Ted Cruz and opposed any reforms to immigration and entitlements.
Most population movements have their genesis in economic anxiety, and politicians will use this economic anxiety to justify the expansion of government. So Rubio and Huckabee will not be the last big government enablers in the GOP field. Furthermore, the more “enthusiastic” these voters are about the primary, the less likely GOP candidates will talk about cutting these entitlement.
Alex Gonzalez is a political Analyst and Political Director for Latinos Ready To Vote.
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