“The Little Guy” Myth

Ken AshfordRepublicansLeave a Comment


Rove argues that Republicans win as activist reformers, in the tradition of Lincoln, McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt. "We were founded as a reformist party," he said in our conversation this week, "not to be against something, but to help the little guy get ahead." The models he cites are 401(k)s and the mortgage interest deduction — government policies that encouraged individual wealth and ownership.

Excuse me.  Milk just came out of my nose.

Rove cites 401(k)’s and the mortgage interest deduction as examples that Republicans like to help the little guy??

Okay.  401(k) plans are called "401(k) plans" because they were enacted under Section 401(k) of the Internal Revenue Code.  Section 401(k) was enacted in 1978, when the President then was…. Jimmy Carter, and Congress was a Democratic majority (see here).  Although it is true that there have been reforms and advances to Section 401(k) since that time, they have occurred under both Democratic and Republican leadership.

And the mortgage intrest deduction?  Well, when the tax law was created over a century ago, it allowed for general deduction of all interest.  Back then, most people who owned a home didn’t even have a mortgage.  But as time went forward, and mortgages became a way to get home ownership, the mortgage interest deduction simply fell in as a natural outgrowth of the generic interest deduction in the tax code.  It wasn’t a "Republican" innovation, nor was it initially intended to benefit "the little guy".

Are those the best two examples that Rove could come with to show that Republicans care about "the little guy"?  Two advances that were not "Republican" and merely accidental in their development?

I guess not.

One wonders why he didn’t mention "tax cuts".  I guess he knows that nobody is buying the "It’s not just for the rich.  Really!" meme anymore.