According to the Census Bureau, people of color will be America’s new majority by the year 2043. African-Americans, Asians and Latinos already outnumber whites in several states and play a growing role in presidential swing states. Neither party can ignore them.
But too many people who should know better have been acting as if the Republicans can fix their dismal performance among Latinos, for example, simply by adopting nicer rhetoric and less draconian immigration policies. It won’t work.
Neither party will win voters of color by preserving tax cuts for the wealthy while slashing Medicare and other vital programs. Instead, the president and Congress should:
• Make the tax system fairer. Letting the top tax rate return to Clinton-era levels is a start, but not sufficient. Abusive corporate use of offshore tax havens costs the government up to $100 billion a year. Let’s crack down.
• Cut with a scalpel, not an ax. Protect programs that help those struggling in the tough economy, but take a hard look at our bloated defense budget, which exceeds those of the next 13 countries combined.
• Protect seniors. Seniors of color, who are less likely than whites to have worked for a company with a retirement plan, are especially dependent on Social Security and Medicare. They — and their kids — will not take kindly to cuts. That includes gimmicks like changing the way the consumer price index is calculated (the “chained CPI”), which is just a backdoor way of cutting benefits.
Both Republicans and Democrats should pay attention: Austerity budgeting is not just bad policy; it’s bad politics.
Orson Aguilar is executive director of The Greenlining Institute.