Ross: Will Dems Embrace Post-Boomer Economic Message? | Wisconsin Public Television

Ross: Will Dems Embrace Post-Boomer Economic Message?

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Premiere Date: 
December 29, 2017

Ross: Will Dems Embrace Post-Boomer Economic Message?

With each panelist posing an open question to keep in mind for 2018, Democratic activist Scot Ross asks whether Democrats will take up an economic message that appeals to a younger generation. He says some candidates are talking about these issues, but Democrats must focus on a positive message of change. McCoshen says people tend to vote with their pocket books which favors Walker.

Episode Transcript

Frederica Freyberg:

Scot Ross's topic to watch also comes in the form of a question. "Will Democrats finally embrace an economic agenda that addresses the needs of the nation's 120 million post-Boomers?" You are really on this topic. Are you not feeling the love?

Scot Ross:

Well, I'm simply saying that for the last 25 years, the economic message that's germinated out of Washington D.C. for Democrats is Social Security, Medicare, my employer-provided pension is under assault, all critically important issues, but for those of us under the age of 50, and I'll still thankfully there, it doesn't do anything related to my day-to-day life. We as post-Boomers have a totally different economic situation than our parents or our grandparents had, and the economic message of Democrats has not reflected that. Need to have a very positive agenda, especially when you're talking about Scott Walker, cause you're not going to beat Scott Walker by just saying he's going to make Wisconsin worse. You will beat Scott Walker by saying you'll make Wisconsin better.

Frederica Freyberg:

Don't the politicians appeal to voters of a certain age, though, because they vote?

Scot Ross:

Say you're talking about Generation X. You're talking about 40 million voters between the ages of about 51, 52 and 35. This is a huge voting block that are not kids anymore, I mean, I don't consider myself a child anymore. I care about childcare. I care about family medical leave. I care about how am I going to-- my retirement is on my own. All those types of issues, student loan debt, you know that's literally probably the biggest economic issue for post-Boomers because there's $1.4 trillion worth of it. 85% of it is held by people under the age of 50.

Bill McCoshen:

Now Bill, Scott Walker is talking jobs and training ads at millennials to come back to Wisconsin. Is that appealing in the way that Scot is talking about Democrats ought to be?

Bill McCoshen:

I think it's very appealing. I mean, the economic statistics, people vote their pocket books first, and we've had that conversation here on this program in the past. That's in Walker's favor, whether it's more people working than ever before, the lowest unemployment rate in 17 years, or bringing in new company after new company. Those are things that resonate with people. They see that good, positive energy come into the state of Wisconsin and now, as you just pointed out, he's advertising to bring people back. If you have any interest in finding real strong, meaningful employment, come to that state of Wisconsin. That's a new message for the state of Wisconsin, and I think that's going to be to his benefit.

Frederica Freyberg:

What do you think of that message of trying to lure people back here?

Scot Ross:

I think that when you give $4.5 billion to a Taiwanese billionaire to provide jobs for people to cross the Illinois border, it's not the cornerstone of an election victory. Scott Walker does have an advantage in terms of his age, currently. You know, where he's at a lot of the leaders in the Republican side are Gen Xers, that's for sure, but if you think about history, the last 100 years the ages of non-incumbent Democrats elected president are 52, 51, 47, 46, and 43, which means 2020's best thing for the Democrats would be somebody between 1977 and 1968 born. We have that.

Frederica Freyberg:

Do you see any of the Democratic candidates embracing younger voters or their issues?

Scot Ross:

Oh, absolutely. Yes, no matter their age, they're all talking about those important issues, student loan debt.

Bill McCoshen:

And they’re all old. We'll agree on that, right?

Scot Ross:

There are some of them who are seasoned. But there are also ones that are younger than I am, so I think that's where they are talking about a lot of those critically important issues. Can they stay disciplined? I mean, that's the thing with Scott Walker. In 2010 when he ran, if you copied everything that Scott Walker had on his website for issues, it's a page and a quarter long. You just have to be message-disciplined. Figure out the things that make your base voters go out and vote, and then talk to them about it.

Frederica Freyberg:

Very briefly, the universal issues that every demographic cares about?

Bill McCoshen:

Jobs is number one, without question, and Walker's got the distinct advantage on that going forward, and I don't know how a Democrat, regardless of who comes through the primary, can draw that contrast with him on economic issues.

Scot Ross:

People all across Wisconsin who don't have jobs are going to have a problem with that. I think that it's quality of life. Are you working one job that gets you to pay for the bills for your family, and currently in Walker's economy, that's not the case. He's been in charge for seven years. If you're unhappy about anything, it's his fault, and he's going to pay the price for that.

Frederica Freyberg:

We leave it there. Scot Ross, Bill McCoshen, thanks very much and have a great new year.

Scot Ross, Bill McCoshen:

You too.

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