ALL HAIL THE MORTGAGE MOMS. Just the other day, the TAP staff convened around our luxurious oak conference table, reclined in our high-backed leather chairs, and complained that this election was missing the key ingredient for pundits (Disclaimer: Not all the details of this story are precisely true): A clumsily named swing group. So far as we could tell, The Powers That Be had not yet lowered their Sword of Brooksian Characterization to designate a successor to the Soccer Moms, Office-Park Dads, or Security Moms of yore.
But hark and behold, where once there was absence, now there is presence. The Washington Post stepped into the breach today with "Mortgage Moms," the most Democrat-friendly group in years. These are the economically insecure (at no point does the WaPo offer a gender, family structure, or home-financing breakdown that would justify either the "moms" or the "mortgages" part) portion of the electorate: Downwardly mobile whites buffeted by a summer of inflation that beat four percent for the first time since 1991, and with incomes that have dropped two percent since 2003, mortgages that are pushing upward, a record increase in household debt, rising health costs, and all the rest. Democrats have been pointing at these trends for years, but the data and the polls both show that 2006 has seen them accelerate until they're really torturing the average American.
Republicans have dealt with this as some sort of psychological dysfunction, assuming that if you just explain reeaaallllyy sssslllooowwwlllyyy how glorious the economy is, voters will come around. That's not provento be the case. George W. Bush's economic summit, though a nice try, didn't actually lower anyone's health care premiums, or protect them from increases in the variable-rate mortgages that Alan Greenspan supported. And while the GOP could have gotten some mileage out of forthrightly raising the minimum wage, they were too concerned with the tax burden of heiresses to actually get a bill passed. So, as in other years, they're moving back to national security to try and scare their way to retaining a majority. Good luck with that. We'll see if the "mortgage moms" really do think you have to fight them over there to improve wage growth over here.