Karen Ferroggiaro

Recent Articles

Behind the Numbers: Class Dismissed?

The Democrats have hinged their political strategy upon the empirically shaky notion that most Americans consider themselves middle class. The consequences are not just rhetorical.

T he competition to enact a "middle-class tax cut" is only the latest pursuit by the two parties of what the Democratic Leadership Council has called the Holy Grail of American Politics. But who is really middle class? Speaker Gingrich includes families with incomes up to $200,000 a year, or 99 percent of American households. His supporters assert that those unwilling to recognize that lofty income as middle class are pursuing class warfare. President Clinton's tax cut would reach incomes up to $75,000, still almost 90 percent of families. Clinton's educational proposal provides tax deductions for families making as much as $120,000, or about 95 percent of families. This improbable inclusiveness reflects the great American refusal to confront class. There is a pervasive belief among political analysts and in popular mythology that America is a deeply middle-class country. This belief tends to confuse aspiration with condition. Political opinion oscillates between holding that "classes...