Democracy Soup

Making sense out of the world of politics

If we are going to define the middle-class, let’s not ask Charles Gibson

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Originally published on BuzzFlash.com on Thu, 04/17/2008 – 7:52am

I missed Tim Russert and Chris Matthews. They aren’t well-schooled in running a debate or asking relevant questions, but Charles Gibson and George Stephanopoulos made Russert and Matthews look like Jim Lehrer.

Gibson’s lack of awareness on salaries was annoying in New Hampshire way back in January, but his obsession with the capital gains tax was frightening.

Gibson was rather emotional and confrontational on the capital gains tax issue, the only time he was all night. He appeared to stand up for the “100 million who own stock” in this country. However, he seemed to be much more worried about his own investments than the ones of the viewers.

Yes, 100 million Americans own stock, but what does that mean? 401(k)s? S&P 500 funds? Of the 100 million, how many receive significant incomes from stock? In doing the math, 1% of that figure is 1 million people. And if those are the upper echelon (yes, I’m including you, Charlie), can’t they afford a little more?

Gibson hasn’t written a book on economics, but his views on the matter are limited to tunnel vision. Gibson has the impression that if A happens, B will always happen regardless of any other variable. So if the capital gains rate goes up, revenues go down, and vice versa. Always. In logic class, Mr. Gibson, that gets you an F.

A better explanation for why Gibson is clueless can be found here.

Obama had it right: if the secretaries of the hedge fund managers pay a higher rate than their bosses, that needs to be fixed.

And the payroll tax issue. Obama wanted to raise the cap on the payroll tax, currently capped around $97,000. Gibson objected since he said Obama wouldn’t raise taxes on the middle class.

Let’s think about this for a second. Obama said 6% of Americans make $100,000 or more a year. Now math isn’t my strong suit, but middle usually means middle. If $100,000 marks the elite of the country, and the payroll tax is capped around $97,000, who is really being hurt by this? Unless there are a ton of people specifically making between $97,000 and $99,999, this category is rather select.

I don’t know the extent of Gibson’s support staff (butler, maid, chaffeur, et al), but he desperately needs a reality check.

I do want to thank Gibson for one thing: opening our eyes to what exactly is the middle class? Since the election cry is on middle-class tax cuts or raising taxes on the wealthy, let’s come up with figures (to be adjusted for inflation).

If the middle-class is defined as less than $200,000 or $250,000 and 6% of Americans make $100,000 or more, we need to change the definition. Perhaps we can add a new classification, such as “upper middle-class” and “lower middle-class.” And we could also add “poor, but fed” and “poor, and not so fed.”

This is a third rail topic. Americans don’t like to think they aren’t middle-class, even if they aren’t. But in this economy, reality is more important than perception, even if it makes you feel less wealthy.

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Written by democracysoup

April 17, 2008 at 7:52 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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