The Better Homes and Gardens of Populist Democrats, Part One

by Jim Geraghty

Over at the Washington Post, Chris Cillizza writes:

Here’s how Democrats can save themselves in the coming midterms elections: Use the exact same “1 percent” economic messaging that won President Obama a second term in 2012.

I suppose we’ll see. But that would seem to set up a fantastic opportunity for a Republican counterpunch on cronyism, arguing that our traditional economic culture of opportunity is being eroded by American businesses increasingly catering to a powerful Washington elite instead of customers. The administration that brought you General Motors, Solyndra, Fisker Automotive, Evergreen Solar, and so on has no leg to stand on, and these denunciations of the richest 1 percent will probably come at $16,000-or-more-per-plate fundraisers, or at the home of billionaire Tom Steyer. No one with functioning brain cells thinks Democrats have any objection to the right kind of rich people; they have a problem with rich people who don’t donate to their campaigns.

What’s more, almost every Democrat who’s going to be demonizing the “1 Percent” is in fact a member of the 1 Percent, or at absolute worst, the country’s richest 2 or 3 percent — and certainly every senator and representative is one of the most powerful and influential 1 percent, with easy access to the lucrative post-congressional life of “consulting” (read: lobbying without becoming a registered lobbyist), book deals, corporate boards, twice-a-week teaching gigs, media deals, heading up think tanks and nonprofits, etc.

When congressional Democrats denounce the richest 1 percent, they aren’t just residing in glass houses; they’re residing in glass luxury condos and mansions. Baccarat crystal, perhaps.

For example, Harry Reid’s recent statement:

You see, when you make billions of dollars a year, you can be as immoral and dishonest as your money will allow you to be. . . . What is un-American is when shadow billionaires pour unlimited money into our democracy to rig the system and benefit themselves and the wealthiest 1 percent.

Note how Harry Reid talks about “the wealthiest 1 percent” as if it’s someone else. By one estimate, to be in the richest 1 percent, a person needs a net worth of about $1.2 million.

Where Harry Reid spends his weeknights:

Inline image 3

Harry Reid’s estimated net worth, according to his most recent financial-disclosure form: $2.5 million to $6.1 million.

Speaking of “pouring money into our democracy,” since 2009, Harry Reid’s campaign committee and leadership PAC have spent $29 million on campaigns and donations to other Democratic candidates.