Crafting Economic Policy and Rhetoric Responsive to the Struggle of Everyday Americans

This week, EPI released some polling getting at the very core of the political problem around the economy - Americans feel as though the government has been responsive to the needs of banks and Wall Street, not them. Tom Edsall covers the poll in the Huffington Post and includes this slide from the poll results:

EPI poll

The article goes on to argue that the American people have gotten it about right - quoting James Galbraith who says:

"In relative terms, the perceptions are dead-on: the big winners so far are the bailed-out bankers. Meanwhile on the jobs and housing front, things get worse," says University of Texas economist James Galbraith. "You can make an argument that everyone has been helped by the fact that the economy hasn't collapsed even more completely," Galbraith added, but that does not "cut any ice with the population at the moment. What they see is that a top-down bailout works on the top and doesn't go very far down. And they are right."

This sense, true or not, is a massive political challenge that must be addressed over the next year. We've written a lot about the need to adjust rhetoric to be responsive to the struggles of everyday people. This, by the way, doesn't mean some sort of populism, it means having a big conversation about a 21st century economic strategy for America that focuses on broad-based prosperity.

The American people have a better understanding for the global economy than most in Washington give them credit for - as evidence, take a look at this NDN poll released in November of 2007, just before the recession began. Not only did Americans know that the economy was in very bad shape, they understood the shape of the global economy and America's advantages therein.