About a year ago, the Maddow Blog posted a chart made by one of its readers. Having seen a chart in Slate that showed income growth by percentile under Democratic and Republican administrations, the reader proceeded to create a chart that showed how incomes grew based not just on which party occupied the White House but also which party controlled the House of Representatives and the Senate.
This is that chart:
It will come as no surprise to readers here that, since 1947, income growth has been better under Democratic presidencies than under Republican presidencies. But looking at this chart reveals an interesting added dimension: While total Republican control of Congress and the presidency is very bad for the incomes of struggling Americans, the single worst thing for the incomes of struggling Americans is, plain and simple, Republican control of the House, regardless of who controls the Senate or occupies the White House.
Over the past couple of months, we have gotten a firsthand glimpse into why, which I believe can be boiled down to two reasons:
1. The House essentially controls the purse strings, since all budget bills must originate there. Thus, if the House doesn't want a new and helpful government program created, it doesn't happen.
2. As the chamber of Congress in which new legislators typically get their start, the House is much more likely to contain a large number of clueless wackos.
The political upshot of this combination of factors is that Banana Republicans in the House have hijacked the entire political agenda. Unemployment remains at crisis levels, millions of families are falling out of comfort into subsistence and poverty, the import-replacing domestic manufacturing that could get the nation back on its feet continues to atrophy, tax revenues are at their lowest rate relative to GDP in decades, so what issue dominates the evening news and the debate in Washington? Cutting federal spending! Spending that could keep families out of the worst poverty (see in that chart how Americans in the 20th income percentile lose ground when Republicans control the House?), spending that could shore up our deteriorating infrastructure, spending that could generate demand for manufactured goods . . . spending, in short, that could pump our economy back to life.
If the House don't wanna spend, the House ain't gonna spend. No matter how desperate the need, no matter how unified the public in its desire for positive action, no matter how urgent the moment of crisis. It's even worse today than it was in the past, because Banana Republicans have discovered that crises help them get what they want. The chart above ends in 2008. We're about to witness the writing of a whole new chapter of Republican-induced income degradation in the 60th percentile and below.
If the Republican presidential field can begin campaigning this early, we should too. And the message should be simple, direct and repeated incessantly: A Republican House is bad for your income. Hell, if it comes down to it, we can afford to lose the Senate, as long as we take back the House. Everything depends on the House. We've got to take back the House.