Today’s White House blog suggests that the middle class is the economic backbone of the United States. The creation of the StrongMiddleClass.gov site hails the headquartering of the middle class task force to which President Obama appointed Joe Biden as head guy.
Goal of the Middle Class Task Force at StrongMiddleClass.gov
The stated goal of the Middle Class Task Force at StrongMiddleClass.gov is to be “raising the living standards” of those falling under the middle class definition. Although this sounds like an amorphous statement, there are some benchmarks that Joe Biden defines as pertaining to a strong middle class, namely retirement savings, college savings, and also home equity cushions in single family homes.
President Obama identified one of the means his middle class revamp would employ: working together with his economic advisors (including Robert Reich who “excludes white male construction workers from the Obama Stimulus Plan“). Vice President Biden is quoted in his editorial “Time to put Middle Class Front and Center” as wanting to secure retirement savings, make workplaces safer and childcare and elder care more fiscally affordable, make employment more family friendly, and create green jobs.
How Do You Strengthen That Which Defies Definition?
One fly in the strong middle class idea’s ointment might be the definition of the middle class. While upper class is easily defined – if you have to ask how much something costs, you are not part of it – the differentiation between the working class, the middle class, and the various collar jobs are more fluid than you might think.
Brian Cashell reported to Congress in March of 2007 on this very subject matter, and he concluded that “there is no consensus definition of “middle class,” neither is there an official government definition.” He took a stab at defining America’s middle class by pointing to the census derived median household income of $46,326 but stated clearly that it is uncertain what percentage of those making less or more are still considered middle class before being divided into lower class and upper class.
Showing just how easily numbers can be twisted turned and made to look like pretzels, he provides some statistical gymnastics that effectively placed the American middle class as those receiving incomes “between $19,178 and $166,000.”
This then is the flaw of the Middle Class Task Force at StrongMiddleClass.gov: how do you strengthen that which defies definition? Moreover, how do you afford the person at the bottom of the scale the same opportunities as the one at the top?
http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog_post/Todaysevent/; http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/1411081/robert_reich_excludes_white_male_construction.html?cat=3; http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog_post/Time_to_put_middle_class_front_and_center_1/; http://assets.opencrs.com/rpts/RS22627_20070320.pdf