Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Introducing the "Mortgage Moms"

The economy's doing okay, right? Which should be good news for the GOP, shouldn't it?
Maybe not, according to this political analysis from Jeffrey Birnbaum and Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post, who point out that flat wages, high energy prices and growing debt have families feeling less secure:
At first glance, the economy's role in this year's midterm elections is a puzzle. Economic growth and unemployment are at levels that in past years would have been a clear political asset for the party in power.
But one layer down in the statistics, the answer is more clear. Flat wages and rising debt nationally have converged to leave millions of middle-class households feeling acutely vulnerable to bumps in their financial planning. The most visible of these are rising energy prices and a softening housing market.
Like recent elections, this season has its moms of the moment:
Every election cycle has its own important set of undecided, or swing, voters. In 2000, it was the "soccer moms," targeted by both parties with appeals based on education and quality-of-life concerns. In 2004, it was the security moms, normally Democratic-trending women whose concerns about terrorism helped give Bush his margin of victory.
This year could mark the emergence of what might be called mortgage moms -- voters whose sense of well-being is freighted with anxiety about their families' financial squeeze. Democrats are betting that this factor is strong enough to trump security or cultural values issues.
Pocketbook issues are more likely to sway voters than many realize:
Polls show that swing voters -- the category that candidates most want to attract -- are unhappier than the rest of the population about their economic circumstances. According to a recent survey by Bloomberg News and the Los Angeles Times, six in 10 self-described independents said the economy was doing badly, and seven in 10 said the country was on the wrong track.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Banks have been putting the squeeze on the middle class for years now, and it has always surprised me that an angry voting bloc of "credit-card moms" never formed. Credit card "agreements" are far worse even than ARMs.

Make no mistake, the latest housing bubble was an overt ploy by central bankers to keep Republicans in power. With a weak dollar, huge trade deficits, and uncomfortably high national debt, policy should require interest rate hikes. But by keeping interest rates artificlly low, and by failing to rein in dodgy mortgage products, the Fed floated the entire consumer economy on housing equity. The "wealth effect" illusion created by rising property values made consumers comfortable taking on even more debt to support their spending. The result was to mask the decline in real wages, and to temporarily prevent the middle class from experiencing a decline in their standard of living - which, when it eventually is felt, will be taken out on Republicans at the polls.

7:38 AM, September 07, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

...oh, not to mention, the Fed-created housing bubble also masked the economically devastating effects of the tax cuts for the rich. Without the additional revenue provided by the housing-fueled consumer spending, and the temporary construction boom, the Federal revenue picture (and deficit) would be far worse.

7:40 AM, September 07, 2006  

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