Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Makers and Takers?

Presidential candidate Mitt Romney has starkly demonstrated his estrangement from the middle class in America. Last week he claimed that the middle class had incomes up to the $250,000 level. That claim is not borne out by any statistic. There are approximately 310 million people living in the United States. The Census Bureau indicates that more than 70 million people earn less than $25,000.

Census charts as seen in the links and below demonstrate about 1.4 million more earn more than $200,000. Fewer than 500,000 people are in the top percents from $400,000 to over a million dollars. Perhaps this is why many Republicans tried to get rid of the periodic census data collection. This week is the anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement when the "other 99%" spoke out. The truths they pointed out regarding income inequities remain part of the dialogue regarding the haves and have nots in America. Romney has drawn lines between the money makers and those entitlement people as the ones who consider themselves victims and are takers.

Perhaps Mr. Romney, the businessman, should review some real facts and figures as indicated below and rework his view of the hard working middle class in America.

The median family income in the US is around $51,000. 66% of people are said to be homeowners.

Census data per state Median House hold income.

The mean income for seniors over 65 is $31,000 approximately with the median somewhat higher at $47,600. Growing numbers of elderly actually live in poverty. Thirteen percent (13%) of our populace is currently over 65 years of age, which translates to about 39.6 million elderly people. The average payment to a retired worker is about $1,200.00. Payment to women who are a major percentage of the retirees is often less as they may have had interrupted years of work history.

Over 150 million people earn less than $200,000.

Income data incrementally up to $250,000 with breakdowns by age and household characteristics.

Income break down by average wages.

Recent news reports leaked surreptitious video of candidate Romney at a private high dollar fund raiser decrying the so-called 47% whom he claimed paid no income taxes. He referred to them as the entitlement cohort who saw themselves as victims in need of health care, food and housing. He claimed that what they needed were jobs. This chart shows that many people are raising and providing for families on very little income. So if they lose an income or even have their work hours reduced, or have unexpected health expenses, they are tipped over their fragile edge into real poverty. These are the people whose children need insurance through SCHIP or free and reduced fee meals in schools. They are the ones who appear at food banks or apply for food stamps. The reason many of these families pay no income tax is that they are below the Federal poverty levels; however, they do pay withholding taxes, sales taxes, gas taxes and other fees which strike them disproportionally. Romney, in a crass assessment of half of America, claimed that these "entitlement" people would never vote for him, because he would make them work.

Is he going to make the 39 million elderly seniors living on Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid who have earned their rest and retirement, go to work? Is he going to retrain the legions of minimum wage earners so they can make more than minimal incomes? Is he going to take the numbers of disabled and infirm currently on Medicaid off their care levels? His disregard for real pain and discomfort among those he calls entitled is appalling.

There is poverty in this country and as recent studies have shown – the numbers are increasing.

Americans have in recent times indicated that we care about "the least amongst us". These were clearly the reasons that Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid were established. As a country we established working rules and minimum wages and created social safety nets for those who could not care for themselves. We have regulations to assist those who have physical or psychological impairments, so they can contribute to society when possible. We created an educational system open to all, so that opportunities should allow for upward mobility. The Affordable Care Act was created to remove the burden of an expensive and inequitable health care system. But as we were doing all of this, we recently entered into a declining decade. During the years since 2000, we have seen a decline in the incomes of the middle class as salaries decreased, jobs disappeared and values in the stock market, 401Ks, and home ownership declined. As these declines happened, President Bush's idea of privatizing Social Security was shelved. For the first time in over 100 years, parents are concerned that their children will have lesser standards of living than they did.

Now that Mr. Romney has indicated he will only need to be President for part of the country. It is time for Americans to show him that his idea of "doubling down on trickle down" will not work. He again seems to be preaching only to his millionaire friends and is in no way reaching out to the real hard working people who make up the broad middle class--the backbone of our American society. If you are poor, infirm or disabled, you apparently have no place in his stratified society. In his and VP candidate Ryan's speeches, they bring up the ideas again of voucherizing Medicare, block granting Medicaid and again privatizing Social Security. Do they ever see a real poor person? Do they know any of those seniors in Florida clipping coupons and living in trailer parks?

There truly are two Americas. I do not wish to live in the version chosen by Mr. Romney. I believe that President Obama understands the middle class much better since he and his family were so recently members.

Please let me know what you think.


  1. Thank you, Sharon, for such a well researched and well written argument.

  2. Absolutely right, Sharon. And since Romney says these ridiculous things that even his Republican friends decry (they are now really scared that his campaign is on the downhill swing), My conclusion is that he is not even very bright. No person who has any common sense would say those things even in a supposedly private meeting. Marilee


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