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Friday, December 9, 2016

Middle-Class Americans Suffer In Silence, For Now

Sept. 20 (Bloomberg) — President Barack Obama’s proposed tax on millionaires has restored the issue of “class warfare” to the forefront of politics.

The new tax plan follows a week of intense campaigning by the president for his jobs bill, and of considerable attention devoted to a Census Bureau finding that poverty rose to a 17-year high.

Asking the wealthiest among us to pay more, and taking new steps to help the least well-off — the jobless and the poor — are good policy. But politically, and perhaps even economically, the president can’t lose focus on a group often left on the sidelines of the political conflict over rich and poor: the long-suffering middle class.

Recent developments have driven home how urgently middle-class families need to be put front and center in Washington.

First, there was bad news for middle-class households in the Census Bureau’s study of poverty for 2010. The news reports focused on the finding that the average annual income of households at the bottom — those in 10th and 20th percentiles – – had fallen by $1,000 and $1,500 a year, respectively, since 1998. At the opposite end of the spectrum, households in the top 10 percent of the income distribution saw their annual income rise by $3,600, and those in the top 5 percent had a $4,200 increase, over the same period. (All these figures are adjusted to be constant for inflation.)

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