How would you define "middle class"? First, think in terms of income percentiles . . .
Okay, now think in terms of actual dollar amounts, for a family of four.
You thought about it and came up with answers, right?
Right, so here's what the real numbers are, from the census bureau.
The reasonable definition of "middle class" it seems to me, is some region around the median; the middle three quintiles, for instance. This doesn't correspond at all to the way the term is used by politicians - they talk about repealing some of Bush's tax cuts, while keeping the "middle class tax cuts" for people making less than $200,000 a year. That means stretching the definition all the way up to about the 97th percentile.
Wes Clark's proposal, conversely, is to exempt families of four making less than $50,000 a year from paying any income tax; this would actually cover almost 60% of the population. It's not getting much attention.
The deficit, we are assured by the Bush administration, is only 4.5% of GDP, well below the record levels of the early 80's (when we hit a peak deficit of 6.0% of GDP). Deficits accumulate, though. The GDP last year was about $11 Trillion. The debt is now slightly more than $7 Trillion. That's 64% of GDP.
On another subject, I was watching The Chris Matthews Show on ABC, Sunday Morning, and the topic of discussion was the www.bushin30seconds.org "Child's Play" ad, and the superbowl controversy. Tucker Carlson, from Fox News, was on, and he stated that it was all a publicity stunt on the part of Move-On, and nothing more, because "they didn't have the money to pay for it". Which is just completely untrue, as far as I can tell. The ad is being played regularly on CNN, now, and according to the website they've raised a total of $8.9 Million in their latest fund-raising drive, centered on this ad contest. So Tucker Carlson was lying, outright, and no-one called him on it - there were four other panelists, plus Matthews, who's generally really well informed about issues he raises.
Finally, I've been bothered, constantly, by political analysts and politicians defending the Iraq war by saying "the best available intelligence at the time" indicated that they did have WMD, or that "no one was opposed at the time". There was a great deal of opposition before the war started, and a great deal of doubt about whether Iraq had WMD. The rest of the world, in fact, had serious doubts about whether Iraq had WMD. Remember? And remember those weapons inspectors who were roaming around Iraq for months, before the war? They didn't find anything. Some people (see "the rest of the world", above) thought that might be an indication that there weren't any WMD.
Also, with regard to the congressional vote authorizing the use of force, which has been a major issue in the primary campaign so far . . . no one, then or now, has made much of the fact that the whitehouse suppressed information about North Korea's nuclear capabilities until after the vote on the Iraq war was taken. A high level North Korean official had offered an open admission that they were actively developing nuclear weapons, in talks with U.S. officials during the week prior to the vote. The whitehouse knew about this, but didn't tell congress (or the press) until after the use-of-force authorization was on the books. I thought, at the time, that this should be a huge, huge issue. Nothing. Weird. posted by Miles 12:05 AM