Middle income

September 14, 2012

Romney has really done it this time.

Stephanopoulos: Is $100,000 middle income?

Romney: No, middle income is $200,000 to $250,000 and less.

Where the middle is approximately the 96th-98th percentile apparently….

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No Responses Yet to “Middle income”

  1. chall Says:

    i’m not sure if I should be sad or laughing hysterically since with my single income I’m currently about “median house hold income” in America (the house hold when they mix the married and the single ones i.e. $50 000 compared to the married house hold of $73000). Still though, middle income is 4 times that?!?! I’m not saying that 200 000 wouldn’t be a decent amount to live on, hell I’d make three kids through college on that, but it’s not current reality (i hope). Or I’m just on the low income part… but overeducated.. always something I guess 😉

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  2. Kati Says:

    We live in a high cost-of-living area, paying $2,000/month to rent an adequate* apartment relatively close to campus. Between the two of us—one grad student with a fellowship, and one post doc with two grants—we make just at $100,000/year. However, given the area we live in, $100,000/year feels like lower middle class rather than middle middle class. We’re definitely among the poorest residents in our neighborhood.

    If we lived in just about any other part of the country, though, $100,000 would be upper middle class. Go figure.

    That said, $250,000/year is *not* middle class, even by the standards of our neighborhood. It’s comfortably upper middle class. The people making $250,000/year have very, very different concerns from those making $50,000/year. You can’t put them in the same “class” when their concerns, priorities, and spending patterns are so different from one another.

    What bothers me most about Romney’s statement is that there’s no mention of what is poor or lower middle class. Frankly, I believe a household income $30,000-$50,000/year is working/lower middle class, and anything below $30,000/year is poor. Heck, we wouldn’t even be able to pay our rent if we made less than $50,000/year, and I have no idea how anyone could comfortably support him/herself and a child on $30,000/year.

    Stagnant wages + general inflation = harder for us bottom 90% to get by.

    *adequate, meaning no washer/dryer, no A/C, ongoing plumbing issues, little to no insulation, outdating wiring, etc.

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  3. john Says:

    So?

    Middle east is in flames.

    US credit rating just was downgraded again to AA-… because we started QEIII, which Bernanke has noted will not have long-term benefits, but is intended to keep us from going over the cliff.

    Work force participation is the lowest since the depression *despite* the fact that the recession ended over 3 yr ago.

    Economy is going nowhere.

    Thanks to Obama being unwilling to compromise with anybody not named Pelosi or Reed, not working to get the Senate to approve any of the 5 budgets they could have voted on this year, not encouraging any form of spending discipline and IGNORING HIS OWN DEBT COMMISSION, now Sequestration is going to cut 2.5B (at least) from the NIH and devastate DoD research funding. A bit parochial, but those funds permit us to do what we do, so I’ll throw it in.

    Bottom line, Obama is doing an atrocious job as the leader and chief executive of this country.

    But yeah, quibble over “250,000 or 200,000 AND LESS.” Which is correct depending on where you live- and he has lived in some nice areas. Regardless, I would guess most consider $150,000 the border between upper and middle class, and Obama is the one using those $ amounts as indication of ‘rich’ . So without your handy fucking chart at hand, that is a reasonable estimate. Within 25% or so, which is pretty decent in what we do.

    And what fucking difference does it make? With all the bad shit going down, this is a stupid thing to get the vapors about.

    Son, your priorities ain’t quite right.

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  4. Physician Scientist Says:

    yah Drug Monkey…focus on a semantic peripheral issue when there’s been entirely no leadership from the executive branch for the last 3 years. Never once did the administration stand up with a clear plan and say to congress “This is what I want done.” The approach has been to defer to congress to draft legislation that they don’t even read and then wonder why nothing gets done.

    LBJ, Reagan and Clinton (agree with them or not) were all leaders who set a clear direction for the country. What we have now is meandering deferral.

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  5. Physician Scientist Says:

    Plus, its “wealth” not “income” that’s important.

    A couple making $250K with 3 kids in daycare, trying to save for college and having their house drop 15% in value does not feel rich. That same couple, 30 years later, having saved and invested prudently and having their kids out of the house feels much differently on the same income.

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  6. miko Says:

    PS certainly has the empirical observation and critical thinking skills I’ve come to associate with “physician scientists.” Is that like “intellectual conservative”? Someone who thinks that Atlas Shrugged is deep and insightful?

    First, it’s not a semantic issue — it’s deep ignorance about the consumer economy. By what central tendency indicator is $225K anywhere near the “middle”? If Romney didn’t constantly say outlandish shit indicating that he knows very little about the world maybe he could credibly call this a gaffe, but there is an additive effect here. He’s just not that bright or interested in the world or 95% of this country. How anyone can think a banker in magic underpants and that weird, confused man-child is what we need right now is beyond me.

    Second, “meandering deferral” is retardedly wrong even according to the reality-impaired end of the political spectrum. Mainstream conservatives in this country openly accuse Obama of being too activist and trying to do “too much” with government, while the serious wack jobs openly champion a do-nothing philosophy.

    Third, here is a small sample of >350 White House-initiated or backed pieces of legislation the GOP has blocked or attempted to block. Yes some are “progressive” initiatives the trogs might be expected to oppose on principle. Many more are just common sense or housekeeping. Some are actually Republican initiated programs that they started trashing as soon as Obama supported them.

    -A bill that would have eliminated a tax break for companies who ship jobs overseas.
    -Political Ad disclosure bill
    -Subpoena Power for the Committee investigating the BP Oil Spill
    -The Small Business Jobs Act (eventually passed over GOP hysterics)
    -Benefits for Homeless Veterans
    -Health Care for the 9/11 First Responders
    -The Jobs Bill
    -Wall Street Reform
    -Economic Sanctions on Iran
    -Light bulb efficiency standards
    -Cybersecurity Act of 2012
    -Freezing interest rates on student loans
    -Equal Pay (closing loopholes in 1963 law)
    -Fair Pay Act of 2009
    -Immigration Reform – This is a good one — initiated by Republicans, then when Obama supported it, they blocked it.
    -The DREAM Act
    -Repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Blocked multiple times before 2 repubs grew consciences
    -Protection of child custody arrangements for deployed military
    -Troops-to-Teachers Program.
    -Increase in military basic pay for 2011.
    -Aural protection for members of the Armed Forces.
    -Comprehensive policy on neurocognitive assessment by the military health care system.
    -Anti-Rape Amendment to the Defense Appropriations Bill (Allows women raped overseas while working for foreign contractors to have their case heard in an American court instead of company mediators). Eventually passed over attempted blocks by group of 100% male GOP clowns.

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  7. DrugMonkey Says:

    Well put miko…..john, your court.

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  8. Grumble Says:

    Oh, I can’t resist.

    “Middle east is in flames.”

    And this is Obama’s fault… how?

    “US credit rating just was downgraded again to AA-… because we started QEIII, which Bernanke has noted will not have long-term benefits, but is intended to keep us from going over the cliff.”

    Credit rating got downgraded the last time because of Republican obstructionist antics, and this time is no different. We wouldn’t have needed the ridiculous “fiscal cliff” threat if the Repubs had been willing to give a nanometer.

    “Work force participation is the lowest since the depression *despite* the fact that the recession ended over 3 yr ago.”

    It would have been much worse without Obama’s stimulus package.

    “Economy is going nowhere.”

    Manifestly untrue. Employment is growing, as is the economy. It’s happening slowly, but no faster than could reasonably be expected based on past recessions of this magnitude.

    “Thanks to Obama being unwilling to compromise with anybody not named Pelosi or Reed,”

    This is ridiculous. Obama has made overture after overture to the Repubs. He even adopted their very own healthcare plan. The idea that Obama is the obstructionist is utterly laughable. I have to wonder what kind of mythical world you Republicans live in. The reality-base community recognizes how hard Obama has tried to compromise, despite rebuff after rebuff.

    “not working to get the Senate to approve any of the 5 budgets they could have voted on this year,”

    Uh, what’s the point? They’d just be blocked in the House. Everyone knows we have to get past the election, and, with the threat of the fiscal cliff, a compromise will finally be worked out.

    ” not encouraging any form of spending discipline and IGNORING HIS OWN DEBT COMMISSION,”

    Obama is not the only one. Republicans voted against it too. Even Paul Ryan, who was on the commission voted against it – and then brayed about how this was Obama’s fault. What a clown.

    ” now Sequestration is going to cut 2.5B (at least) from the NIH and devastate DoD research funding. A bit parochial, but those funds permit us to do what we do, so I’ll throw it in.”

    No, it won’t. The fiscal cliff will be avoided at the last minute, just as all the other Republican-manufactured crises were.

    “Bottom line, Obama is doing an atrocious job as the leader and chief executive of this country.”

    AhhhhhHAHAHAHAHAHA! No he isn’t. He has done almost as well as could be expected given continuous Republican absolutism and obstructionism.

    Like

  9. miko Says:

    But why should we listen to someone called “grumble” when someone who has totally douched out and chosen the pseudonym “Mr. Credentially Credentialed” has already passed judgement on the matter?

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  10. Physician Scientist Says:

    Miko-
    Thanks for the opportunity to respond. I might argue that most of the things you list were initiated by congress rather than the executive branch. The ones that were initiated by the executive branch like the Dream Act are subject to simply another executive order that can repeal it. So in this case, it would be pretty dumb for someone to come forward, identify themselves and if Obama is voted out of office, then be kicked out of the country.

    At any rate, most of the stuff you listed are just nibbling around the edges of the bigger problem – our soaring deficit, terrible recovery, high poverty (46 million now on welfare/foodstamps) and continued joblessness. What I’m looking for is real leadership – someone who has the courage to raise taxes on all americans while taking on entitlement reform and having a sustainable/rationale way to cut the deficity. Romney may not be that guy, but I haven’t seen this from our president in his 3.5 years of leadership.

    One last point, there are alot of HHMI, NAS members, nobel prize winners who identify as physician scientists. I wouldn’t sweep with such a broad brush.

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  11. Drugmonky Says:

    If you haven’t “seen” leadership from Obama than you have been willfully looking away. Grumble nails it to the wall, tans it and sews it into fuzzy slippers.

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  12. Physician Scientist Says:

    Killing Bin Laden was awesome (and a gutsy call). Other than that, I can’t name one instance on a matter that was truly important for the whole population.

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  13. a biologist Says:

    “truly important for the whole population”

    Fair Pay Act anyone? Helps every existing and future household in which a woman is earning a paycheck.

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  14. Physician Scientist Says:

    The Fair Pay Act is good and important. Unfortunately, the bill was proposed and written and introduced to congress in 2007 where it was defeated. It was not written by then Senator Obama. While Obama rightly signed the bill as president, others proposed it and sheppared it through Congress. There is a long history of this bill before Obama became president.

    I’m looking for something substantial that was not in the pipeline before he became president that he championed, his executive branch wrote (finding sponsors in congress) that then became law. The Affordable care act doesn’t count as Obama took a hands-off approach on the specifics of the bill – deferring to congress to write it and provide the details. For better or worse, I can name things during most other presidents first term (Bush – No child left behind, Medicare drug benefit (I think first term), Clinton – NAFTA, Budget Reconciliation act of 1993, Reagan – Economy Recovery Tax act,), but I find Obama lacking in these.

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  15. Drugmonky Says:

    The fact that you credit NAFTA to Clinton and refuse to credit Obama because other people were involved or ideas predate his Presidency illustrates the selectivity of your argument. It is ridiculous – ideas are seldom unique floral arrangements of a sitting President. Especially ideas that can turn into law.

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  16. whimple Says:

    …our soaring deficit

    Gets the award for not understanding how debt is used to leverage growth. Over the last 40+ years, The ratio of total debt to GDP has increased by 160%, while industrial output has increased 330%. Try to find any Fortune 500 company with no debt. Debt is good.

    See the actual data: http://research.stlouisfed.org/fredgraph.png?g=8Se
    Note: TCMDO is total credit market debt owed normalized to GDP. Notice how much faster industrial production increases vs TCMDO/GDP.

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  17. Drugmonky Says:

    And of course our budget is out of whack for two reasons…

    1) selfish rich asses WH refuse to
    Pay taxes they wouldn’t even notice, lifestyle-wise

    2) wars that aren’t paid for

    Guess who is responsible for those two things? That’s right, Republicans. Fro
    Ronnie onward at the very least.

    Like

  18. DJMH Says:

    I am torn between amusement and horror that physician scientist seems to think it is the president’s job to write bills. Perhaps that MD or PhD or whatever didn’t leave time for Civics 101 re executive and legislative branches.

    But I bet you were just as critical of Bush’s self description as The Decider, right?

    Like

  19. a biologist Says:

    Physician Scientist is simply engaging in the time-honored traditional right of the Privileged to move the goalposts.

    Sure, a black guy got to be President, but he didn’t really *do* anything.

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  20. raoul d Says:

    Over the last 40+ years, The ratio of total debt to GDP has increased by 160%, while industrial output has increased 330%.

    Gets the award for not understanding debt saturation. Notice how that chart shows that between ~1998 and ~ 2008 industrial production took a round trip to nowhere, while debt/gdp increased by ~ 40% ? Or that over the last decade, growth increased by a net of ~10% while debt increased by ~ 30%?

    Pointing to that chart and saying “over the last forty years we’re good” is a bit disingenuous when the last 10-15 years tell a different story: that % gain of growth per % increase of debt is looking less and less rosy these days.

    Try to find any Fortune 500 company with no debt. Debt is good.

    Oh, I know this! Is it this one?

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  21. Grumble Says:

    “the last 10-15 years tell a different story: that % gain of growth per % increase of debt is looking less and less rosy these days”

    Let’s see. Why was there such a huge increase in debt since ~1997? Since then, interest rates have been at historic lows, despite a booming economy throughout much of that time. It’s no surprise that debt would increase when borrowing costs are so low. The Fed governs interest rates; it (or he: Greenspan) willfully ignored the internet and real estate bubbles, pouring fuel on the fire by keeping rates low. That turns out to have been irresponsible. The bubble burst, leaving a lot of innocent people underwater in their mortgages, not to mention unable to pay off student and credit card loans.

    Yet, at the same time, we hear that corporations and banks are sitting on hoards of cash. When they start spending again, employment and wages will go up, and people will be able to get out from under their debt burdens. What’s the best way to get corporations to start spending again? From their point of view, demand for their products is low, so why should they invest in new employees and equipment? So the answer is to get money into consumers’ hands so that their economic activity increases demand for corporations’ goods and services.

    What we need, then, is short-term stimulus: government spending that gets money into the hands of the real middle class ($50k/year) (not Romney’s $250k/year: those people are already spending). Once this jump-starts the economy, tax revenues will go up and the federal debt will lower.

    Yet all we hear from Republicans is that the sky is falling because of too much debt. In truth, they aren’t worried about debt: they are worried about their taxes being raised. This is not only disingenuous, but fundamentally irresponsible. If their path of fiscal austerity is taken, our economy will be doomed to years and years of recession – until people finally realize what charlatans the Repubs are and throw them out for good.

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  22. becca Says:

    I’m just reeling over the realization there are plenty of towns for which 200k/year is near the median.

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  23. Drugmonky Says:

    “towns” becca? I doubt it. “subdivisions” mayhap.

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  24. whimple Says:

    Gets the award for not understanding debt saturation. Notice how that chart shows that between ~1998 and ~ 2008 industrial production took a round trip to nowhere, while debt/gdp increased by ~ 40% ?

    So… this debt saturation is why industrial output so promptly resumed its relentless upwards march immediately following the end of the Great Recession in 2009? Notice the shaded areas on the graph are US recessions. I suppose you also noticed that debt/gdp took a pretty good trip down after the recession ended? The whole Republican “debt is bad” smokescreen is exactly contrary to the actual data, in the finest tradition of recent Republican rhetoric.

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  25. becca Says:

    drugmonkey- googling about, there is a remarkable lack of consistency from one source to another on this. I think that, suffice it to say, there are many more communities (towns and “census designated places”) that come closer than I would have anticipated. Also: fucking north siders (http://money.cnn.com/galleries/2008/moneymag/0807/gallery.bplive_topearners.moneymag/3.html)

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  26. @Grumble: “The median income for a household in the town [of Atherton, CA] was in excess of $200,000, as is the median income for a family”

    Yeah, you can do that if you make sure it’s too expensive for the maids, construction workers, retail staff, and other undesirables to live in town. There’s inevitably another nearby town where the other half lives, they just don’t get to share the school and the library.

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  27. Grumble Says:

    Right, it’s a principle as old as “neurons that fire together wire together”: people of similar wealth live together.

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  28. Neuro-conservative Says:

    I suppose you also noticed that debt/gdp took a pretty good trip down after the recession ended?

    @Whimple — Your statement is incorrect, actual data demonstrating an approach to WWII-era peaks are available here.

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  29. See the actual data: http://research.stlouisfed.org/fredgraph.png?g=8Se
    Note: TCMDO is total credit market debt owed normalized to GDP. Notice how much faster industrial production increases vs TCMDO/GDP.

    As far as I am aware, TCMDO includes both private and public debt. My understanding is that the steep decline in TCMDO/GDP after the Bush recession ended was almost wholly due to private deleveraging. US Government debt as a percent of GDP has gone up montonically since Bush took office.

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  30. whimple Says:

    TCMDO includes both private and public debt
    That’s only fair since it’s being compared to industrial output, not a lot of which comes from the government. The point is to see how well the overall economy is producing, relative to debt carried by the overall economy.
    Lots of good resources from the St. Louis Fed: http://research.stlouisfed.org/datatools.html
    Create your own graphs is the first link.

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  31. Grumble Says:

    Mittens insults half the country (no longer limited to just the middle class):

    “There are 47 percent who are with [Obama], who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. ….[M]y job is is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

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  32. barbararich Says:

    Thanks, Grumble, for adding tassels to the fuzzy slippers.

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  33. WS Says:

    O.K. this will not necessarily keep with the current topic, but I got in on this one late. I can’t believe that this election is even close. The fact that it is close is a sad commentary on the average intelligence of the United States of America. Four years ago, we had the dumbest president in American history. G. “dubya” Bush was cutting taxes for the rich and deregulating Wall street (for the rich) at the same time he launched a completely unnecessary war in Iraq. For the cost of that war (or less), a Scientific American article several years ago claims we could have become energy independent through solar power. Now we have another filthy rich refucklican who wants to cut taxes for the rich, again, and somehow balance the budget. I used to be a republican, long ago, when they were still a semi-rational party. Now they have become a party of freaks that would rather see the United States collapse than see Obama elected to a second term. Today, Republicans represent a bizarre combination of the filthy rich and Jesus freaks, a really odd combination when you think about it. I can understand why PHYSICIANscientist and others earning in excess of $250,000 a year would vote for Romney. I can’t understand why a large fraction of the other 99% would. Oh wait, I forgot, Obama is black, and oh yeah, there is that intelligence thing (see above).

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  34. Spiny Norman Says:

    “US credit rating just was downgraded again to AA-… because we started QEIII”

    Factually incorrect. Try again.

    Like

  35. AcademicLurker Says:

    @WS

    Sadly, U.S. presidential elections are exercises in pure identity politics. Which means that almost nothing will shift the numbers very much.

    If a video were released of Romney and his rich asshat friends hunting disabled children for sport, he could still be confident of getting at least 45% of the vote.

    Like


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