In mid-September, the Associated Press quoted former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney as saying, “Middle-income is $200,000 to $250,000 and less” per household.
The AP also stated that President Barack Obama defines "middle class" as families with income of up to $250,000 a year.
Romney’s statement does not strike me as a major revelation because Obama promised in his 2008 campaign that “if you're a family making less than $250,000 a year, my plan won't raise your taxes.” Both candidates reiterated these numbers in the debate, but one would believe Romney benchmarked the amount from the maelstrom that followed. Independents expressed unease, and Democrats went into Occupy Wall Street attack mode. It appears interpretation lies in delivery and not definition.
After the AP release and debate, my social media circles buzzed with independents seeking clarification and concerns of Romney taxing them if they do not earn $250,000; the Democrats accused the governor of being out of touch with real people because he defines 99% of America as lower class, or that in Romney’s world — you are a serf if you make less than $190,000, or “Mittens” is worried about his rich pals, not America as a whole.
It appears that President Obama has fanned the rich rhetoric flames against the right so well that his followers, who threw water on Romney’s comments four weeks ago, didn’t pay attention to their man behind the curtain — spinning his class warfare wheel for four years.
Romney’s statement may have come as a surprise to independents and Democrats, but in essence it is no different than the Obama administration’s policy. If one party states $250,000 or less defines middle-income, and the other party claims that incomes up to $250,000 defines middle class, what’s the difference?
Unless one wants to debate the semantics of “middle-income” and “middle class,” for both parties, $250,000 defines the same grey area. However, it creates a political 38thparallel, or two sides split into separate spheres of influence. Not unlike the line of latitude between North Korea (communist) and South Korea (capitalist), the candidates’ economic philosophies split at $250,000.
Both parties encourage economic growth. Obama feels that those making over $250,000 should aspire to work harder, earn more, and pay more taxes to the government so that it can redistribute the wealth. Romney finds that those working harder and earning more deserve to be rewarded with fewer taxes in order to reinvest wealth independently, create more jobs, thus increasing the amount of taxpayer revenues (without raising taxes).
As one thrust into a class warfare where a dollar sign became the scarlet symbol for the past four years, I reacted to Romney’s words favorably. For a moment, my moniker of “Middle Class Millionaire” was lifted and replaced with a certificate of achievement along with unlimited growth potential.
The lower unemployment rates are encouraging. As a salesman for a small business, the extended Bush tax policies are creating more purchases and job openings, supporting Romney’s philosophy.
The caveat is if the sales trend continues into 2013, and Obama gets reelected, I could find my household in a higher tax bracket. At which point, I may not want to work harder and earn more for the government. Would my boss accept less work in order for me to pay fewer taxes? If tax policies turn on small business, should I join the public sector where it appears the current administration promises less risk and more reward?
November will define the big picture; it either has a frame or no boundaries. Until then, the presidential debates over definitions continue: from what the meaning of the word “is” is, to middle-income and middle class.
I characterize Mitt Romney as an ally of Middle Class America, and, unlike the White House, I do not define “ally” as a legal term of art.