Middle-Class Dignity

Source: Internal Revenue Service


2008 Tax Rate Schedule

•10% on income between $0 and $8,025

•15% on the income between $8,025 and $32,550; plus $802.50

•25% on the income between $32,550 and $78,850; plus $4,481.25

•28% on the income between $78,850 and $164,550; plus $16,056.25

•33% on the income between $164,550 and $357,700; plus $40,052.25

•35% on the income over $357,700; plus $103,791.75

“Republican leaders want to permanently extend tax cuts not only to middle-class families but also to some of the wealthiest Americans,” Barack Obama said, insulting the dignity of America’s middle class with flawed logic.  Obama’s statement could help explain an unjustified desire for class warfare under his administration, with 65 percent of the middle class saying they pay a bigger share of income taxes.  But simple analysis reveals that true dignity for America’s middle class is more likely to come from the efforts of Republican leaders.

The middle class earns $40,000 to $100,000 in income.  Incomes less than $32,550 are subject to a smaller share of taxes than the middle class.  The dignity of work is in fact penalized, with the government requiring Americans $7,450 below the middle-class threshold to begin paying a bigger share in taxes.

In 2008, the latest year for which data were available, Americans in the 25 percent tax bracket earned 14.5 percent of income but generated 15.5 percent of government tax revenues.  Linear regression also illustrates how middle-class dignity is insulted with a trend for an increasingly bigger share of taxes from relative income (i.e. the red line shows that on average, Americans who earn a greater percentage of income pay an even greater percentage of taxes).

Columnist David Brooks commented about the potential for an American Renaissance in the 21st century.

Americans could well become the champions of the gospel of middle-class dignity.  The U.S. could become the crossroads nation for those who aspire to join the middle and upper-middle class, attracting students, immigrants and entrepreneurs.

To do this, we’d have to do a better job of celebrating and defining middle-class values.  We’d have to do a better job of nurturing our own middle class.

To nurture the dignity of America’s middle class, the nation in 2012 can elect a president who understands that middle-class values call not for change to result in equal outcomes, but for a fair and simple tax that provides equal opportunity for all to pursue wealth above the middle-class ceiling supported by Obama.


Barack Obama, “Statement by the President after Meeting with Bipartisan Leadership,” The White House, November 30, 2010.


2 thoughts on “Middle-Class Dignity

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