Fox Business viewers love Charles Payne, the host of “Making Money with Charles Payne,” for his no-nonsense interview style, sound financial advice, and down-to-earth personality. I had the rare opportunity this weekend to turn the tables and interview Charles, asking a wide range of questions about ESG, cryptocurrency, student loans, inflation, immigration, and more at the Steamboat Institute’s 14th Annual Freedom Conference in beautiful Beaver Creek, CO.
The key takeaway? Democrats talk a good talk when it comes to the middle class, but on all of the above issues, as Charles said, their policies are “making life harder for Americans.” It should be no surprise then, if middle-income Americans increasingly abandon Democrats. And why not? Democrats, in their embrace of a left-wing agenda, have long abandoned the middle class.
On student loans, Charles said he “cringed with anger” as he heard President Biden touting the benefit of the latest $10,000 in forgiveness to the “middle class.” Sure, there’s an upper income limit on this round of forgiveness-by-fiat (Americans earning more than $125,000 don’t qualify), but as Charles pointed out, those who do qualify are still a privileged group.
Of course, most Americans don’t have student loan debt and most don’t have a college degree. According to the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, a college degree is worth about $2.8 million in earnings over a lifetime. So why would we ask (actually, force) America’s hardworking plumbers, technicians, and truck drivers to pay off the debts of people who will ultimately earn millions more dollars thanks to their college degrees?
Here’s a prime example of beneficiaries of the latest student loan plan: medical residents. Residents work long hours and don’t make a lot of money. On average, they make $64,000, which qualifies them for $10,000 from President Biden (or more accurately, from American taxpayers). And residents hold a lot of debt: The median amount of medical education debt for the 70% of medical school graduates who have student loans was $200,000 in 2019. But come on, these are doctors – young doctors who will quickly see their earnings triple or quadruple just after their arduous years of training.
Student loan forgiveness is just one area where the middle class is being left behind by the political left. On energy policy, immigration, and the economy, American workers are paying a high price for a political agenda that doesn’t represent their values or reward hard work.
On energy policy, increases in the cost of natural gas, electricity, and gasoline are necessarily regressive; low- and middle-income Americans use a disproportionate share of their money on these basic necessities to heat and cool their homes and get to and from work and school. The Biden Administration has taken over 100 actions to reduce America’s domestic energy production, causing energy prices to soar (up 50% even before any sanctions on Russia).
When I asked Charles about “ESG investing” (which stands for Environmental, Social, and corporate Governance investing), he pointed out that the “nebulous” practice was starting to lose support. Good riddance. While many Americans may not have even heard of ESG, they need to understand that this manipulation of markets is hurting us in several ways: It’s contributing to inflation and reducing returns in our 401Ks and pensions. And to what end? Sri Lanka took ESG to its natural end, and now the country has no law and order and no food.
It’s not too late for America to reverse course and continue to stand as the land of opportunity. Our country does, in fact, welcome more than 1 million immigrants each year (perhaps now including some fleeing the ESG disaster in Sri Lanka?). While some conservatives worry about the impact that low-skill immigration may have on wages for American workers, Charles pointed out that the real threat to low-income Americans isn’t immigration, but the welfare state, which according to Charles “is not a gift. It’s a curse.”
He’s right: America’s uniquely open immigration policy cannot co-exist with a welfare state. If we want to continue to welcome immigrants, we must put reasonable restrictions on our safety-net programs. But here too, Democrats won’t listen to reason. Since 2020, 17 million people have been added to Medicaid, representing a 24% increase. And the Biden Administration continues to keep states’ hands tied regarding work requirements or other eligibility limits.
All of this amounts to a proverbial war on the middle class. If blue-collar Americans increasingly go red at the ballot box, it won’t be much of a mystery. Charles Payne’s analysis often shows us how to make money, but his thoughts on these economic policy issues also make a lot of sense.