Jonathan Chait is a mixed bag, IMO, but he’s right here about how badly the Beltway press covers what Democrats and Republicans actually do on economic policy vs. what they say:
Conservatives are not just working the refs when they claim to feel marginalized. Holding right-wing beliefs while living in a place like New York, Washington, or Los Angeles has become a genuinely alienating experience.
[It ain’t no picnic holding left-wing beliefs in North Cockroach Acres, Florida either. — ed.]
But the changes in the composition of the two parties’ voting bases [i.e., the influx of non-college whites into the Republican Party] have not altered the long-standing class orientation of their policy agendas. Democrats still vote to redistribute income downward, while Republicans vote to redistribute it upwards. The political media’s fixation with the marginal change in the composition of the two parties’ bases has made it lose touch with the actual purpose to which they use their power.
The class orientation of their programs — the important things they actually do with power — has not changed. Democrats are pushing through a bill whose intent and effect would be to bring about a historically large downward transfer of resources. The upper-middle-class voters the party has been attracting in greater numbers would face combined tax rates at or around 60 percent, in the highest tax states. The spending these taxes would finance would go to people of modest means.
As Chait (correctly) points out, the politicians who will thwart those programs given the chance are Republicans who “posture as tribunes of the working people,” e.g., folks like Marco Rubio, Josh Hawley and Tom Cotton. Republicans may get an assist in killing the reconciliation bill’s most ambitious programs from a handful of conservative Democrats, which sucks.
But it’s important to note that Manchin, Sinema and the small handful who may be hiding behind their skirts aren’t the mainstream of the Democratic Party. They are fringe outliers.
Similarly, when the so-called champion of downscale Red America was president for four years, his only economic achievements were to sign a massive tax cut that oligarchs promptly used to buy back stocks and appoint deregulation-friendly judges. As always, look at what they do, not what they say. That one weird trick would improve Beltway coverage immeasurably.