Mitt Romney recently said that he wants to help the 90-95% of America in the struggling middle class, neither very rich nor very poor. This is just one more piece of evidence that he has no clue about the country; he wants power.
Here is what the country really looks like.
The Very Rich: There are many ways to define High Net Worth Individuals. Much of the financial industry requires $500,000 liquid investable assets before they will talk to you, so that certainly creates a demarcation. If that is you, you are in the top 5% to 10% of the population.
The Very Poor: There are 49 million people living in poverty–maybe 50 by now, the number has been going up pretty fast. I make that about 1 in 6 (16%) living below the poverty line, the highest we have seen in decades.
So in very rough figures, we can say that 1 in 12 is very rich and 2 in 12 are very poor. However, that doesn’t include the soon-to-be poor:
- The unemployed who are living off their retirement assets before retirement age
- Parents, friends, and other relatives supporting unemployed adults, thus straining their own financial resources
- The employed who are making less than they used to and now cannot reach previous retirement goals
- Middle-aged and older Americans whose retirement accounts were damaged beyond their ability to refund
- Younger Americans whose school debt will prevent adequate saving for retirement
- Those losing their homes to foreclosure
- Anyone who falls through the safety net in the future, especially those hit with medical bills
How about that middle? Household spending power for the middle has been falling. In 2011, the average household income was $49,500. It has inched up in dollars, but it has not kept ahead of inflation, thus losing spending power.
By the way, if you want more disturbing news, try out a retirement calculator. If you make that average $49,500, hope to retire at 65, and expect $1000 a month in Social Security, you will need $635,000 in today’s dollars—not just net worth, but spendable—to maintain your lifestyle. Take out Social Security, and you would need $838,000. In a wealthy country of 310 million, we should be asking why there aren’t more millionaires.
The reason, of course, is that our nation’s wealth has not been distributed evenly. The higher your income, the more you benefitted—by both dollar and percentage—from the last decades of economic growth. By far the largest share of our growing GDP went to Mitt Romney’s income group, whose earnings skew any measurement of average income. If Mitt Romney wants to help the middle, he will have to give less to his own income group. Is he likely to do this?
- His firm lobbied heavily to keep the section in the tax code that allows people like Mitt to pay 15% tax on their incomes instead of the graduated tax everyone else pays.
- Mitt has said that 47% paying no tax (because they don’t earn enough) is a problem that should be fixed. Meanwhile, more tax cuts for the wealthy are a great idea.
So, no, Mitt has shown no interest in helping the country. He sees popular opinion rising up against unequal distribution of wealth and wants to be in a position to make sure wealth continues to flow to his own income bracket.
That 90-95% figure was probably floating around in his head because that is the percentage of the population who would be economically worse off if Mitt Romney were elected President.
Financial writer, bookseller, strategic thinker, consultant, progressive activist, scifi geek, music lover, theater person, mastermind. B.A. University of California, Santa Barbara Cum Laude. J.D. University of Illinois. Member, California Bar. Would choose flight over invisibility but teleporting over both. Editor and contributing writer, FIX America, How Each of Us Can Help All of Us. Follow me on Twitter @buybk. Join me in progressive politics at www.planamerica.org