December 30, 2015
Is $250,000 a year in household income “middle class”?
That sort of income puts a family in the top 5 percent of American earners, which seems like an overgenerous definition of “middle class.” Why, then, are Democrats so allergic to raising taxes on people who make less than this fabled cutoff? Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders want to spend money on a lot of stuff: single-payer health care, more generous Social Security benefits, universal preschool, free college, worker training. They are probably not going to be able to pay for it with the piddly sums one can raise from even large tax hikes on the very highest earners. Yet both of them seem wedded to the idea that taxes should not rise significantly for anyone who makes less than $250,000 a year.
In the New York Times, Bryce Covert of ThinkProgress argues that this is a mistake. The middle class is suffering, she says, and it’s time to tap the merely affluent as well as the fantastically well off. She does a good job of making the case that Democratic priorities can't be funded without broader-based taxes. What she does not do, however, is explain why Democrats are avoiding this obvious arithmetic.
One answer is that they get a lot of their support in high-cost states where, say, $125,000 a year does not feel like riches beyond dreams of avarice. Over the past five years or so, the commentariat has been periodically convulsed by arguments over whether high earners have any right to feel pinched because their “basics” -- a decently sized home in a good school district, a diet filled with lean protein and fresh produce, and an amenity-filled coastal city nearby in which to enjoy their hard-won socioeconomic status -- are very expensive.
Read the full article at Bloomberg View: Sanders's and Clinton's Fake Middle Class