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American Are Feeling the Squeeze

Just as the so-called “holiday season” nears, and expectations around consumer spending rises, Americans are feeling the squeeze on their pocketbooks. Two of three polled in a recent AP-NORC survey report that their household expenses are outpacing their earnings, and many Americans, especially lower wage earners, have lost confidence in their ability to pay for either an unexpected expense, find a job, or save for retirement. This sobering reality is, perhaps, most succinctly expressed by the 73% of respondents who feel the economy is heading in the wrong direction. Such discontent is rarely good news for the party in power, especially as elections approach.


The seeds of this bad economy were of course sown years ago, arising from the profligate spending and maniacal tax cuts under the Trump administration, to the massive economic shock of the pandemic crisis, to more recent events like the ongoing war in Ukraine, and the actions of Fed Chair Jerome Powell, who continues increasing interest rates, to name just a few factors. Many of these inputs happened multiple elections ago and have little to do with the Biden administration.


Unfortunately, with the deluge of news content focusing on the Now, voters rarely look at the longer-term context when entering the voting booth, instead holding those currently in power responsible. This appears to be what happening in the recent polls showing Joe Biden’s, numbers tanking in both head-to-head matchups against Trump, as well as on general “bread-and-butter” issues like the economy, student loan debt, and inflation. Biden may be currently receiving the bulk of the negative sentiment, however, voters don’t seem to trust either party on fixing the economy, sensing, that none of those in power can be expected to care for the people when times get tough. After all, it is rarely the powerful who are ever asked to tighten their belts.


This Tuesday is election day in multiple states, and it may serve as a bellwether for voter sentiment in next year’s presidential elections. The past several election cycles have been dominated by voters’ overwhelming and heart-warming solidarity in defense of issues like a woman's right to choose, and LGBTQ rights, rejecting the social conservatism of the Republican party, often in contrast to historical voting trends. Whether American’s current economic hardship or their general progressive ideological sentiments carry the ballot box on Tuesday will set the battleground for next year’s elections and provide clues as to its results.


We must make sure that American’s don’t throw the proverbial baby out with the bath water in their frustration with the economy. We need to join, together drawing clear connections between the common cause of our civil, political, and economic struggles instead of tribalizing and tearing each other apart. While there are clear differences between the parties, the American people are right to be suspicious of the promises of politicians for an equitable economy, no matter which side of the aisle they sit. In the end, both sides serve their economic donors ahead of their constituents. It will take both economic and political organizing together to change this calculation. Only when the people have an economic cudgel to wield on their behalf  speaking the language of the donor class will we see true change to the system. So join us each Tuesday, in growing solidarity as we work to create an economy that looks out for all of us, bringing us together in shared struggle, rather than leaving many behind to shoulder all the burden.


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