DEARBORN: Being The Party Of Working Americans Is Not About Rhetoric. It Is About Results

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Rick Dearborn Contributor
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The recent election has raised many questions about our nation’s future. One of the most frequently asked has been: “Whose ideas are better for working Americans?”

One look at the most successful government policies of the last several decades – and especially of the last four years – makes clear what has most helped working people realize the American Dream.

The path to prosperity and freedom requires lower- and middle-income earners keeping more of their incomes, for one thing. We also need more and higher-paying jobs, parental freedom to choose the best education for their children and growing retirement and pension funds. And it requires more access to high-quality, lower-cost health care without the government intruding on private medical decisions, as well as safe neighborhoods in which every American can freely and peacefully exercise his or her constitutionally-protected rights to free speech and the free exercise of religious faith without fear of violence or suppression.

These conservative policies benefit all Americans — not just one particular demographic — but I want to focus on working people, because all too often, conservatives have been falsely painted as advancing policies that benefit only the wealthy.

As Republican Florida Sen. Marco Rubio recently said, “We are on the side of hard-working Americans.” Growing up in a working family, I couldn’t agree more.

For conservatives, the November elections will be remembered for candidates who made substantial gains as their ideas appealed to traditionally “unreachable” audiences. These gains defied most pollsters’ and media prognostications. This includes President Trump, who increased his percentage of Black, Latino and Asian American voters over 2016. 

While many of these voters may not necessarily consider themselves conservatives, they share many of the values — the desire for freedom and economic opportunity, the need to be safe in their community, the yearning to earn a good income to provide for their families (and perhaps, even to start their own businesses) and the belief in core American values of hard work, fair pay, love of family, friends and neighbors, faith and a strong love of country.

More and more people are also attracted to this basic conservative message because conservative policies just work better for everyone.

One of the best examples is the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. When President Trump signed this signature piece of legislation, the average American was projected to get a $1,400 annual tax cut, and the average family of four, a cut of $2,900. That’s money that goes directly into the pockets of individuals and their families each year instead of to a big government leviathan in Washington. And despite claims to the contrary, every income group has benefited.

The law also lowered corporate taxes, allowing businesses to grow, add millions of jobs,and raise wages. Following the cut, America saw the longest streak of jobs growth on record. Before COVID-19, unemployment hit a 50-year low. Women and minorities across the board, and people without a high-school degree, saw some of the lowest unemployment levels in history.

Wages also grew, and despite the tired and untrue “the rich get richer as the poor get poorer” rhetoric, the lowest wage-earners actually saw some of the biggest percentage increases in their wages. By 2019, conservative tax policies had created the highest percentage of real wage growth since the 1970s. Don’t we want to see that for everyone in our country?

In addition to that, the Trump administration slashed unnecessary, job-killing regulations. The combination of deregulation and lower taxes ultimately benefited workers because businesses had more money and more freedom to do things like raise wages and provide bonuses and new benefits to employees. Deregulation efforts also are projected to save American households an additional $3,000 a year in lower costs of goods and services.

Conservatives have also long fought for school choice, the common-sense idea that taxpayer funding for education should fund and follow the student rather than being tied to buildings and bureaucrats. Parents should choose the educational options — whether public, private, or homeschool — that best meet their children’s needs. Especially during the coronavirus pandemic, parents are begging for other options and allowing choice would give families the freedom to pursue them.

One would think that school choice is an issue that cuts across ideological lines because everyone should want the best schools for their kids. Maybe the realities of what we have all been through these past 10 months can help bring all Americans together on this critical issue.

Giving people a choice in their schools improves educational outcomes. Lowering taxes helps families provide for themselves. Removing regulatory barriers creates new jobs and grows the economy. Added together, it means a better life for all.

These are just a few of the many ways conservative policies have benefited the average American. Conversely, massive tax hikes, more onerous regulations, and no choice for parents trying to educate their own kids will hurt working people and will cause America’s economic engine to sputter.

The choice is clear. Conservative policies are the kinds of policies that make America freer and more prosperous. They are the kinds of policies that give every American a real chance at the American dream.

Rick A. Dearborn is a distinguished visiting fellow at The Heritage Foundation, and a former White House deputy chief of staff to President Trump.