Who Constitutes the Middle Class for Tax Cuts?

As the debate over ending the tax cuts for the wealthy heats up again, it looks like most of the heat will come from outside the beltway. The current conversation in Washington is bipartisan for a change, but depressingly so in our opinion.  House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is saying that she supports ending tax cuts on those with over $1Million in income, because those below $1M are ‘middle class’ families. REALLY?

If you define the middle class as the 60% of all Americans between 20% low income and 20% high income then the top middle class household income would be about $ 100,000, a rather far distance from $1,000,000 household income. With the median household income at just over $50,000, it’s pretty clear to most Americans that incomes over $250,000 (the level where we support ending tax cuts) are well above their reality.

That said, a lot of Americans earning between $ 250,000 and $ 500,000 feel strapped. Why is that? The high cost of housing and health care for many Americans, the lack of investment in high quality education means some high-income families have bailed out of the public schools and pay high tuition for their elite private schools, not to mention the fact that college bills for all Americans have skyrocketed. When we subsidize the wealthy, whether individuals or multinational corporations, as we have over the past decade, we over burden the rest of us.

Pelosi and the rest of the Democrats and Republicans who support taxing only incomes over $1M are sacrificing a lot of revenue that could be used to invest in education, research and development and much needed infrastructure improvements.

On this Memorial Day weekend, let’s all think about what it means to be a patriot. What are you willing to pay to reinvest in your country and create a place where we prepare for the 21st Century and create a land of opportunity again for all?

Note: If you want to review the detail and see where you land, check out the Tax Policy Center’s chart for 2010.