Mikulski: Champion of the 'Overtaxed' Working Class?

In Sunday's Metro section, Washington Post columnist Robert McCartney celebrated ultraliberal Sen. Barbara Mikulski, all the way back to her humble origins as a "young community organizer" in Baltimore in 1970: "The ethnic American, Mikulski said, was overtaxed, underserved by government and 'sick of being stereotyped as a racist and dullard.'" Overtaxed? She's dropped that word.

He concluded: "Mikulski deserves credit for being genuine, a trait in short supply in American politics. Conservatives can criticize her on ideological grounds for being reflexively liberal. But she is so consistent and plain-spoken that nobody can doubt where she stands." She's not consistent if she used to worry about overtaxing the ethnics of Balitmore. But McCartney said she was "sticking to the vision" of 1970:

But Mikulski has lasted so long — 10 years in the House followed by 25 in the Senate — by sticking to the vision she outlined in that address. She just adapted it to changing demographics. She’s still focused on defending working people, especially in economic terms, and wants to build coalitions across racial lines.

“I don’t think the issue is so much ethnic anymore. I think it’s social class. It’s the blue-collar voter,” the grocer’s daughter said Thursday in her Senate office.

Even Mikulski’s well-publicized advocacy for women’s rights springs largely from her concern about economic fairness.

“Women continue to face challenges around equal pay for equal or comparable work. There is still discrimination,” she said.

The last paragraph read: "Hard work. Authenticity. Sympathy for the little guy or gal. All working-class traits, and marks of distinction for Mikulski even before her latest achievement."

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