Defining the Middle Class


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Obama has called the restoration of the middle class the defining issue of our time. He said in a “60 Minutes” interview Dec 11 “we should be building a broad-based middle class ….”

All politicians say they’re for the “middle class,” Some call it the “working class.” But what is the middle class? No one knows precisely. It has been defined in several ways over the years.

Almost everyone thinks he or she is in the middle class. Even though we’re supposedly a classless society.

When Democrat candidates talk of helping the “middle class” or “working class,” they refer more generally to blue collar workers—as if white collar workers did no work.

The most recent federal figures on poverty levels range from a one person family having $16,335 to a family of eight having $56,445. Some in poverty might well be seen as making middle class income.

Today the Democrats, with aid from some news media, are presenting a distorted picture of a nation where “median incomes” have remained a straight line for scores of years while incomes of the rich, particularly in the past couple of decades have rising sharply.

A recent CNNMoney.com article included just such a chart. Incomes for 90 percent of Americans have been stuck in neutral, the story said. Other liberal media carried the same story.

Progressive Elizabeth Warren has her definition. She has been the Chairwoman of the Congressional Oversight Panel that oversees TARP (Toxic Asset Relief Program) and is the Leo Gottlieb Professor at Harvard Law School. A darling of the liberal left, she now wants to be the next Democrat Senator from Massachusetts.

She has written: “The crisis facing the middle class started more than a generation ago. Even as productivity rose, the wages of the average fully employed male have been flat since the 1970s.

“Pundits talk about ‘populist rage’ as a way to trivialize the anger and fear coursing through the middle class,” she wrote. “But they have it wrong. Families understand with crystalline clarity that the rules they have played by are not the same rules that govern Wall Street….They understand that their economic security is under assault and that leaving consumer debt effectively unregulated does not work.”

You would think she has just huddled with the Wall Street occupiers.

“America today,” she continues in her Dec. 11 op ed piece in the Huffington Post, “has plenty of rich and super-rich. But it has far more families who did all the right things, but who still have no real security….Tens of millions of once secure middle class families now live paycheck to paycheck, waiting as their debts pile up and worrying about whether a pick slip or a bad diagnosis will send them hurtling over an economic cliff,” she sobbed.

That’s the ironclad leftist view of middle class woes. And, if she should exercise an ounce of honesty, she would lay blame at the feet of Barack Obama, certainly in the past three years.

Examining Census Bureau data, the picture is much different from that depicted by liberal Prof. Elizabeth Warren. The middle incomes listed for 1970, ranged from $3,638 to $10,276. But in 2000, the middle household incomes ranged from $17,920 to $52,174. The Census put incomes per capita in 1970 at $15,920; in 2000 at $28,293—a sizeable increase, not the “flat” income Warrant contended. In 2010, Obama’s recession pulled per capita income down to $26,487.

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  • Do-nothing Reid, Do-nothing Senate, Do-nothing Dems

    The blame certainly lies at the feet of Obama, but also at the feet of Sen. Harry Reid.

    16+ jobs bill to stimulate the economy have been sent over by the House of Reps. What does Reid do with them? He tables them. No up-or-down vote, no debate, no amendments. No-nothing. Reid tried to do this when the two major bills converged in the Senate yesterday until McConnell thwarted him.

    No-nothingism is Reid’s calling card. No bill produced by House Repubs, even if they have crossover Dem support mus survive without Reid saying first that they won’t help the economy, and thus unbending Repubs must meet Dems half-way. This way, Obama and Democrats avoid giving Repubs any credit for helping the economy. A recent column in the Washington Post called all of this Reid’s tactic of no-nothingism. Table House bills. No debate, no up-or-down vote. No-nothing.

    This is all carefully crafted so that Obama can run against a so-called do-nothing Congress. But it is actually a do-nothing Democratic Senate, led by a do-nothing Reid. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) even said that it was a disgrace that Senate Democrats (Reid) had not passed a budget in over two years. Again, do-nothing.

    And Manchin isn’t the issue, Reid is.

    Reid: do-nothing, no-nothing.

  • StephenD

    “Tens of millions of once secure middle class families now live paycheck to paycheck, waiting as their debts pile up and worrying about whether a pick slip or a bad diagnosis will send them hurtling over an economic cliff,”

    Well, to be honest, I am more concerned that more of my paycheck will be taken to give to those that haven’t earned it.

    We always hear the cry for support of “the middle class” and I ask what middle class should I support the one you want to take more from or the one wanting to be given more? The public union fights came down to just this very issue. Look at Wisconsin whose Governor asked for a small % contribution from the public unions into their benefits program. You would think by the backlash he asked them to sacrifice their first born. If they don’t kick in…we do! How much to you kick in to your benefits? Now, pay for theirs! This B.S. has to stop. The end result is folks that earn it will eventually stop and then forced labor will be the only solution. Don’t take my word for it…look at history. Wherever Socialism/Communism was imposed the end result was/is slavery.

    • Dennis X

      Incorrect, the unions in Wisconsin had no problem with an increase to thier pensions, medical etc. The isuse was curtailing the unions ability to bargain in the future.

      • StephenD

        Even if what you say is correct, what about the rest of the story? Who am I to support, the ones demanding more or the ones that have to provide it?