AMERICA’S MIDDLE-CLASS REALITY

Among the media and political elites, there has been an anguished outcry against Sen. Barack Obama’s call for ending the Bush tax giveaways to people making more than $250,000 a year. Wait, they wail, that’s us! We’re not rich, we’re the middle class. Give us our tax breaks!

Among the media and political elites, there has been an anguished outcry against Sen. Barack Obama’s call for ending the Bush tax giveaways to people making more than $250,000 a year. Wait, they wail, that’s us! We’re not rich, we’re the middle class. Give us our tax breaks!

Some, especially Washington Republicans, go so far as to insist that no monetary figure can measure who is wealthy in America, so there should be no upper limit on who gets the goodies. Sen. John McCain – who married into a vast inherited fortune and ardently supports continued tax breaks for the rich – rushed forth to claim that some people are “poor,” even “if they are billionaires.” The difference between billionaires and bus drivers, they say, is merely a matter of attitude, not of income and assets.

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Time to get a grip on reality. What would you guess is the median income for American families? Is it $250,000, or even a hundred thousand? No. It’s just $50,000 – meaning half of our households struggle to make ends meet on less than that. Indeed, those pulling down more than $250,000 a year are among the wealthiest two percent of American families, enjoying incomes five times greater than the typical family.

But … but… but… stammer the offended punditry and politicos, we live in Washington, DC, where it takes much more to be rich. Actually, not that much more. Even in that land of millionaire lobbyists, median family income is $83,000 a year.

A quarter-million bucks a year certainly doesn’t put you in the same zip code as billionaires, but neither are you living in the same world as bus drivers. Obama’s tax policies are rightly focused on benefiting America’s real majority. Why should the richest two percent of families – including billionaires – be getting tax breaks?

“Sorry, Pal, You’re Rich,” www.newsweek.com, August 27, 2008.

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