April 14th, 2010
06:00 PM ET

Can U.S. survive without disappearing middle class?


Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke testifies before the Joint Economic Committee in Washington, DC. Bernanke testified before the full committee today on the topic of 'The Economic Outlook.' (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Even though the economy is showing signs of recovery, Congress is on track to extend unemployment benefits for the fourth time since the recession began more than two years ago.

The measure, now making its way through the Senate, would allow the jobless to receive up to 99 weeks of unemployment checks - that's almost two years.

Democrats insist that times remain tough. They say Republicans, who are opposed to the measure, are "inhumane" and lack compassion.

But Republicans say they're worried about the price tag - about $7 billion a month - which will only add to our skyrocketing national debt. They want to pay for the measure with spending cuts in other parts of the budget.

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke predicted this morning that our national debt will double to $20 trillion or 100 percent of our gross domestic product by 2020.

We're killing ourselves.

There's also another component to this: The longer unemployment benefits are extended, the longer the jobless have an incentive not to work. Studies show many unemployed workers don't start seriously looking for a job until their benefits are about to run out.

In fact, some say the scope of the Obama administration's entitlement programs is leading to a two-class society: The "haves" who are bankrolling the "have-nots."

Conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly writes that the president is transforming the nation by "converting the earnings of American workers into handouts" for those who voted for him.

As we reported in the Cafferty File earlier this week - 47 percent of American households won't pay any federal income taxes this year... in other words, the U.S. has become a country where only half of us are paying for the services that are used by all of the U.S.
Here’s my question to you: Can America survive without the disappearing middle class?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

George writes:
I'm a pretty liberal person, I vote Democrat and I still like Obama. That being said, I think extending unemployment for a two year stretch is ridiculous... I don't think people in this country should go hungry or homeless, but just giving people a two year paid vacation is unethical and also unfair to the people who are paying for it.

Ted in San Diego writes:
Throughout history, weakness in the middle class has been associated with the eventual development of political instability. That may not apply to the U.S. just yet, but at the very least, stubbornly high unemployment and a large debt will soon lead to serious stagnation on many levels… There is no question that unless we act soon to substantially reduce our debt, the nation faces permanent, significant damage.

Seth writes:
First we sent most of our manufacturing jobs overseas, then many of the service jobs. It's called "outsourcing." These jobs were once the gateway to the Middle Class. There is an instant solution to the jobs crisis: outlaw all outsourcing. It's strange that no politician has even (to my knowledge) mentioned this possibility. I wonder why?

Dano writes:
I'm fairly liberal-minded, but I've been having some of these same thoughts: At what point do perpetual unemployment checks become welfare?

David in Maryland writes:
You know the answer or you wouldn't be asking the question. This spending is unsustainable, yet it shows no sign of stopping. This administration is now just buying votes using taxpayer money.

Arthur writes:
Mr. Cafferty, It is tough enough out here for those of us looking for employment without you inferring that some of us are happy living on our unemployment benefits. I have averaged over $100,000 per year over the last 10 years and I assure you that I for one am not sitting around waiting for my benefits to expire. Are there any openings at CNN?

Filed under: Economy
soundoff (156 Responses)
  1. Marty Moore

    As Ross Perot stated years ago that swishing sound you hear are the millions of middle class jobs leaving this country and heading to countries like China, and India, this country can not maintain a vibrant middle class giving away our jobs to other countries. Jack will you please tell me why people can’t understand that out sourcing American Jobs is bad for this country in the long term?

    April 14, 2010 at 6:06 pm |
  2. Bill in Penna


    Ten % of Americans own/control 95% of the wealth. That is 30 million people. More than enough to run a successful economy. They do not need nor want us the 90% of the human citizens.

    We are just profit to their credit based consumer economy. Most of of us owe more than ten thousand ($10000.00) on our credit cards at 20-34%.

    The political/media lyres would have you think differently. But they lie. The only better scam is the religion for profit business.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:06 pm |
  3. Annie, Atlanta

    No. Who will provide the tax dollars for corporate welfare and the bail out of Wall Street every time they gamble and lose? The gamers don’t have a game without us. Yet we have the audacity to ask for universal health care? Amazing.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:06 pm |
  4. Andrew

    There is no middle class if everyone is at the same level. From each according to his ability and to each according to his need... right Obama. As opposed to increasing peoples income by creating wealth, this administration wants to take wealth from those that create it and give it to those who don't. Its the same as subsidizing alternative energies with cap and trade. Instead of reducing the cost of alternative energies through innovation and technology, they want to increase the cost of all the cheap, plentiful energy through taxes. Then traditional energy sources will cost the same as alternatives.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:06 pm |
  5. bill, fresno, california

    As long as we cut taxes and regulations for the wealthy and corporations, the wealth will trickle down to everyone else and a rising tide will lift all boats.

    This was proven by Ronald Reagan.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:06 pm |
  6. EcoOne

    From Dallas, TX

    No, We cannot grow an economy without a middle class. It is the desire for a better life and the willingness to work and realize those desires that drives the economy forward. As a group, they spend the most money for goods and services causing the economy to grow.

    The abandonment of the work-for-reward principle is the destruction of the middle class.

    China is growing a huge middle class and has many times more people working to achieve that status. To be sure, it is not easy for them. However their economic growth has averaged nearly 10% even in this global down turn. They have recently surpassed Germany.

    Even though the U.S. is far above China, China is on track to become larger than the U.S. in the not so distant future.

    We are helping them and every other growing country by destroying our incentive to work.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:07 pm |
  7. Vince

    Its sad that the People of the USA are basically a Political Football. The "powers-to-be" must make the greater population dependent on their programs so that the Greater Population must vote for that power to survive. How many entitlement communities changed their ways? I'll save you the research, NONE. Why? because they have no incentive to do so and no reason to do so. We went from entitlement communities to entitlement states (aka California) to an entitlement country. It's failed everywhere and its going to fail You, Me and this great country.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:07 pm |
  8. John "Massachusetts"

    I know Congress wants to do the right thing to help the unemployed and I support this. However, I am not convinced that extending unemployment benefits is the right thing. For example, I have a friend who worked a 9 months period over a year ago and is still collecting. This was the only work she did after 17 years of not working while raising her child. Her husband is fully employed in a high paying job. Now she feels she deserves the extended unemployment and is very happy with her "half pay for no work" situation. I feel if the benefits are stopped, good old American ingenuity will rise up and many of the unemployed folks will find work in a hurry through job creation at the small business and entrepreneurial level. Why would we want to stifle this natural process and have so many people on the public dole.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:07 pm |
  9. Eiolg

    There could be some sort of minimal tax on everybody, but also more taxes on the rich. I really don't believe that the poor pay nothing because there are so many taxes at the checkout counter.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:08 pm |
  10. cncrndctzn79


    April 14, 2010 at 6:08 pm |
  11. Concerned American

    No Jack, America most certainly will not survive without the middle class. Republicans under George W. Bush did not seem to care about the trend, and the Democrats under Barack H. Obama certainly seem not to care. We are loosing our Country Jack!!!

    Concerned American
    Hartford, CT

    April 14, 2010 at 6:09 pm |
  12. Robert McCrary

    THere is a reason why the term the "idle rich" was coined. THey let their money work for them. THey do not actually work. The Middle class is the engine of this country ...the workers. WHatever happens to them will affect the majority of the country. But, the rich will have invested in other countries so they won't have a problem either way it goes.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:11 pm |
  13. Jeff

    America the land of surfs and noblemen, not free citizens anymore.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:11 pm |
  14. Antonio from Washington D.C.

    It depends if we as society will help each other out or not!

    April 14, 2010 at 6:12 pm |
  15. Tracy from Bullhead City, AZ

    I am sick and tired of working my tail off to subsidize others. Why should there even be an "earned" credit income to low income families? What did they do to "earn" that? Where some do need the help, the majority have made a career of dodging the working bullet. We are becoming two classes, Jack. And the more you push those of us who pay taxes, the more we will eventually revolt. And then you'll have nothing but a third world country. Now isn't that something to aspire to?

    April 14, 2010 at 6:12 pm |
  16. Atlanta's G

    As a middle class American with four children, a military spouse and myself a full-time wage earner who pays taxes, it is disheartening to see the continued entitlements being provided without any incentives to those of us doing our best to balance and make things work. "We the people" are paying for the sins of Washington and this maddness must stop.

    Those in Government making decisions on behalf of their constituents need to realize that their salary is paid for by those of us still working and paying taxes. Government must stop pushing reform that does not include the elimination of waste and the reengineering of our social welfare systems to provide opportunities not entitlements! When you teach people to fish and provide them with the tools they need to be successful, they will learn to feed themselves or they will starve.

    There is always a cause and effect relationship. Thus, unless government becomes part of the solution, it will continue to perpetuate the overall problem. Once the honor of "doing a good day's work for decent wages" is eliminated the will of the working middle class will be destroyed.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:12 pm |
  17. Kurt


    I am encouraged with what I have seen with the Obama administration, up until now. Giving people a free ride for almost 2 years is not a way to get the economy back on track. It seems this would only breed laziness. I hate to admit it, but the republicans have a good point.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:13 pm |
  18. james

    no.i totally agree that the middle class is disappearing. we've gone from upper middle class to barely paying are bills we have friends in the same position, and friends that are thriving. maybe we can make mexico our 51st state, thats where we're headed.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:13 pm |
  19. Tom Furman

    Hell no. America can't survive without the middle class. If we disappear then the rich will have to support the poor, and they are too important to be bothered with that responsibility. We the middle class are the necessary buffer that keeps the rich from dealing with reality.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:13 pm |
  20. David Highwarden

    This is really rediculious. Why cant the United States government manage our money a lot better..were already in debt and yet they keep spending more money, its a complete outrage!! then they wonder why the economy is all screwed up, blamb the U.S. Government!!!!

    April 14, 2010 at 6:14 pm |
  21. Dave

    No, we can't and we ARE destroying ourselves. This county has been transformed from a co-do work culture into an entitlement culture. Consequences are systematically uncoupled from actions so that eventually no one learns the lessons of hard work and responsible living. They simply go on the dole and expect their benefits. They then lack the incentive to work, act rationally or stop breeding.

    It has to stop. And for many many people, the adjustment is going to be very difficult. Tea baggers and militia-types are portrayed as nuts, but they, in their own way, are trying to sound the alarm.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:15 pm |
  22. Shirley aka Tillie

    Jackie when you say Middle Class, who are you referring to?

    April 14, 2010 at 6:15 pm |
  23. Alan Bass

    To say that our disappearing middle class is the fault of extending unemployment benefits is at best simplistic, and at worst misleading. More and more jobs simply don't pay a realistic living wage.
    It used to just be hourly service jobs and the like that didn't allow the worker to adequately support a family. It seems that these days if you don't work for a profit-driven corporation, you simply can't get ahead. I'm a teacher and I've never felt so under-appreciated.
    Does society not value me, the guys building our houses, or any number of other people who play an integral part in our society?

    April 14, 2010 at 6:15 pm |
  24. Ed

    Let's not worry about which US citizens aren't paying taxes and get some tax money of of Exxon-Mobil and other companies who make billions in profits but don't pay a cent in US taxes.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:16 pm |
  25. Ron Suverk

    Jack has a good point about the unemployed not taking this situation seriously enough. A former co-worker of mine remarked that he did not like working temporary jobs(in architecture) because " it misses up my EDD payments" the unemp,loyed that can't get jobs need to be more harder working about finding work – change careers – many long term unemployed have atropyed skills – well they need to do something else now. "just get a job" Bruce Hornsby

    April 14, 2010 at 6:16 pm |
  26. Kimber ND

    Of course the middle class is disappearing. Think about it, who benefits the most from having lots of poor people? The 'evil' corporations and the rich people who own them? Not likely – politicians who get elected by giving handouts benefit the most from lots of poor people who need help.

    Those 'evil' corporations and the people who own them benefit the most from having a large middle class who can afford to buy the products they manufacture. And, yes there are always exceptions.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:16 pm |
  27. Jeremy - Nashville

    Jack – No, we cannot survive without the middle class. But we need to stop blaming the Obama and Bush administrations. We should have seen this coming over 20 years ago when we started losing the steel mills, railroad car manufacturing jobs, and all the other TRUE manufacturing jobs that middle class blue collar workers had. Until we can get those jobs back, which may unfortunately result in some government investment causing our debt to increase in the short term, we may lose our middle class forever.

    Jeremy – Nashville

    April 14, 2010 at 6:16 pm |
  28. Ken in NC

    America will survive without the middle class Jack, The rich will simply “Out Source” everything except living to China and Mexico. It’s cheaper to pay others to suffer for them. They don’t have to listen to complaints from Watchdog Groups about mistreatment of us.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:16 pm |
  29. Jamie White

    If the Middle Class can't go shopping, the wealthy won't stay wealthy not to mention that the country they live in will be a lot more uncomfortable. You have to pay your workers enough to at least dream of buying your product someday.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:16 pm |
  30. Michael Wayne

    Can we survive? Sure, America will endure. Will the US be strained? Without a doubt. Things will only get harder before they get better.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:16 pm |
  31. Shirley aka Tillie

    How does CNN determine Middle Class?

    April 14, 2010 at 6:16 pm |
  32. Jane - WI

    Just because almost half of the country isn't paying federal income tax doesn't mean the middle class is vanishing. It means the threshold for not having to pay for the services you receive is going higher and higher. We are getting to dangerous point when half of the country is being supported by the other half. ALL need to have skin in the game. If not, we'll have one party rule in this country perpetually. that would be the party that allows a greater portion of the country to get away with paying no income tax.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:16 pm |
  33. J, Utah

    My husband is definitely looking for work and has been for 20 months now. The EUC has definitely helped us avoid bankruptsy and foreclosure.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:16 pm |
  34. Steve Johnson

    This talking point about "half of Americans pay no income taxes" needs to stop. It's usually stated without sufficient context for meaningful debate. Most of these people still pay payroll taxes, state taxes, sales taxes, and literally dozens of other taxes.

    Since the poor disproportionately spend more of their income on necessities, it is only sensible that they bear a lesser income tax burden.

    A more interesting story is the amount of taxes being paid by mega corporations like Exxon, who will pay $0 in taxes this year, and yet derive great benefit from being located in the greatest country in the world.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:16 pm |
  35. Raymond P. Bilodeau

    If the super-rich who do nothing with their money let us use some small part of it to increase wages for the working class, the working class would be paying more in taxes. How many yachts do you have to buy before the wealth starts trickling down?

    April 14, 2010 at 6:16 pm |
  36. StevieT

    America will survive but I'm not sure we will want to live here. No middle class equals a 3rd world society. The rich will live in protected enclaves while the overall infrastructure gets progressively worse year after year.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:21 pm |
  37. Cheryl

    No America cannot survive without the middle class and I always knew this was going to happen.......it was only a matter of time. Those at the top want it that way.......forcing people who want to support their families to work for lower and lower wages while they live like kings. We will be a country like Brazil ..... with 2 classes, rich and poor. Thank you Wall Street, thank you Banks, thank you Cheney, Bush, the GOP, Lobbists and Corporate America!

    April 14, 2010 at 6:21 pm |
  38. Lamark I.

    Truthfully, we can survive but just as every country without a middle class; the minute elite will be living on the broken backs of the poor. A middle class is the only thing that seperates us from a 3rd world nation. I am still not sure why Obama is not working harder to keep jobs from being outsourced rather than working to reduce nuclear weapons. Sure, getting rid of nukes is admirable; but it should not be on the top of his priority list while trying to repair a broken nation.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:21 pm |
  39. Charlie

    I know many people who are recently unemployed and can not find any employment at all. These are middle class individuals who have paid taxes and never asked for a helping hand up.

    These are hard times for many families and these are the times when we all hunker down and help out or struggling brothers and sisters. If this country does not extend the unemployment benefits after bailing out the Wall Street Gang, the politicians may end up feeling safer in Iraq than in their own country.. it will not be a very low moral point in our countries history.

    Keep up the good reporting Jack... we need you saying it like it is.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:21 pm |
  40. Sly, Alpena, Michigan

    America will survive, but, they won't survive with my income, i'm taking my pension and Social Security and moving out of this country (Philippines) where it's way cheaper to live.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:21 pm |
  41. Bryan in Florida

    Dear Jack

    Were not surviving NOW.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:21 pm |
  42. Matt Mclaughlin

    Definitely not! The middle class is what drive the consumer markets which in turns the economic wheels. As a 25 year old male who is employed full time, I find it extremely hard to even start my life. By this I mean when my father was my age he was married, owned a house, and had two kids. While in todays world i cant even begin to imagine paying a mortgage and caring for two children. I don't know what to change to make life a little easier but I do know that taxes are not the answer. I have to balance my checkbook every month to make sure I don't go in to the black, it's time to make our government do the same. No more spending.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:22 pm |
  43. Karl from SF, CA

    The Republicans are worried about the national debt they created with unfunded tax cuts, two unfunded one unnecessary wars, too many unfunded other Bush debacles to count, letting the banks run the economy into the ground while the Republican bankers thumbed their noses and Republican executives shipping our job overseas. Their main worry is the fact that eventually the Americans that are left will realize it was them that screwed us over and made a profit doing it. Now they are afraid they are going to be left to pay off their own messes and well they should be. The taxpaying worker bees are going fast.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:22 pm |
  44. Bill, Florida


    I am a part of that middle class, and I pay taxes. I was laid off, however, in 2002 and didn't find a permanent job again until 2004. I did my best to find another job during that period. In fact, I found short-term contracts that lasted about three months at a time. To pay my mortgage and feed my children, I had to cash in my 401K and my pension. That cost me dearly in taxes the following year. Nevertheless, I avoided insolvency and kept up my child support during that miserable two-year period. For a very brief period, I actually had to use unemployment. I think it was a total of six weeks. To hear people suggest that the unemployed tend to take advantage of the system until they run out of benefits is a slap in the face to what I had to do. Oh, and I might add that I had to pay for a trip to a walk-in clinic for my daughter completely out of my pocket during that time. It's just galling to think that people who have not suffered a layoff can think so little of those who have. I've been employed since 2004, but I will never forget being in that position and watching my life savings melt away. Finally, people who take advantage of unemployment have already paid for that benefit out of their paycheck. They deserve understanding and respect.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:22 pm |
  45. Rose Kole

    Not unless the richest people pay their fair share, which is being paid for by the middle class. For decades, the rich have been getting richer and poor becoming poorer. The middle class should quite bitching about welfare, unemployment payments etc. and vote out those who support Wall Street and the rich. London, Texas

    April 14, 2010 at 6:22 pm |
  46. Henry

    Dear Jack; I believe this country cannot survive without the help of all
    citizens of the country. We must stop the givaways or we will turn
    into a Third World Country as we are now doing.


    April 14, 2010 at 6:23 pm |
  47. Michael In Phoneix

    No. Once the middle class disappears the country will lose the last bits of democracy. The current ruling class will become the monarchy and the rest will be surfs. We are already on our way to a monarchy or dictatorship. We have a ruling class which I believe was part of why this country was created in the first place.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:23 pm |
  48. Eileen

    Jack, the middle class as we knew it in the 20th century has been slowly being destroyed not only by losing manufacturing jobs, but by tax policy.

    Did you know that every dollar made by a worker over $100,000 is not taxed for FICA? This means that those making less are paying for social security, while those making over are still getting benefits. Not only that, but small businesses pay FICA for each worker.

    It would make a lot of sense to revisit this tax. Perhaps it's time to have a value added tax on everything bought in this country except food. Even at 5 percent, in a $10 trillion economy, it would bring in $5 trillion. And EVERYONE would pay, including the black marketers.

    This would put money in the pockets of the middle class, allow for hiring more employees in small businesses, and get the taxes from the rich who have so many loopholes.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:23 pm |
  49. Russell

    If upper income earners are whining about carrying the tax burden, why did they ship middle class jobs overseas? The only people with money still in their pockets are the very same fat cats who didn't mind lining their pockets with tax cuts financed by the working poor. I guess the math didn't work, did it?

    April 14, 2010 at 6:23 pm |
  50. Jonas Garvin

    The answer to your question if America can survive without the middle class is a resounding NO! I am not an economist or political expert, however I do know one thing, when the middle class is doing well, everyone is doing well. The middle class are the ones who own small businesses, work construction, and a variety of other blue collar jobs. We are the ones, who, when doing well, are more likely to spend more money on travel, cars, restaurants, etc. I have seen the economy go up and down in my life, and one thing I do know, when the middle class is doing well, everyone else, rich or poor, does a little better. Think about it, the rich are rich and CAN buy what they want. The poor are poor and CAN NOT buy what they want. Its the people in the middle that make our economy work!!

    April 14, 2010 at 6:23 pm |
  51. Jim Deller

    Jack, the problem is more about the US being a country of consumers and less about excessive unemployment pay. Until we start producing products, services, or anything the rest of the world wants to buy, the desperate times will continue.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:23 pm |
  52. Jerry Nichols

    America can survive with a diminished middle class; however it will not be the American Dream. Rather, a third world nightmare.
    The true culprit is not the increase in entitlement programs near as much as the decrease in revenues due to tax breaks to the rich, the switching of the tax burden to middle class, the ever increasing national debt, the export of our industrial production overseas, and the devaluation of the US currency on the world market.


    April 14, 2010 at 6:23 pm |
  53. Glenn Sataloff

    If the trend stated in your piece continues the have nots will grow as those in the lowest half of the haves will be disproportionately affected by the wealth transfer taxes and will fall out of the haves and into the have nots. This will ony strengthen the trend until the logical end where our once great country will resemble .........

    April 14, 2010 at 6:23 pm |
  54. David Morris

    ....the U.S. has become a country where only half of us are paying for the services that are used by all of the U.S.

    Isn't that what socialism is all about?

    April 14, 2010 at 6:23 pm |
  55. Terri

    If we made any money this year then we would be paying taxes. Stop the outsourcing, either bring our jobs back or give me my unemployment, senators. You had no problem bailing out the banks.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:24 pm |
  56. Donnie

    Yes,we will survive, but I want to be in the upperclass and have an easy life rather, than lowerclass and it be a hard life. It is only going to get worse!

    April 14, 2010 at 6:24 pm |
  57. Bosko

    I would love to pay more taxes if it meant I was middle class again.
    You see I went from making a six figure income to making less than
    $40,000. I have never collected unemployment or government aid. My wife and I had to start all over. I was a builder in Florida Now I build websites and my wife helps. It is time we stop depending in others for help and finding ways to do things for ourselves. That is the American way

    April 14, 2010 at 6:24 pm |
  58. J.S.P.

    Why would poor people want to continue fighting for a nation that is ran by a small group of fat cats that hold them down? And we all knowhow the rich rely on the poor to fight their wars. America as we know it will not survive without a middle class.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:24 pm |
  59. William

    The great socialization being brought to the US by this administration, will go beyond bankrupting our country. The continuing frustraion of a people who feel are not being listened to could lead to a new revolution, civil wars started in similar situations, economic, religion, etc. We may see a total meltdown in our economy, in our near future. Spending more money, does not make more money. We already owe China large amounts of money that are uncertain in repayment. I could see the United States being taken over by another overseas government due to our underlying spending habits. Outside seeing masses homeless, that is what scares me the most.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:24 pm |
  60. rhemy

    Considering the disparity between income in this country, It's not surprising. Maybe the rich could help themselves and the country out by not behaving so greedily. The middle class is quickly becoming a member of the have not's, and it's not the goverments fault. The people at the top caused this mess and inequality in America they should have to pay to fix it. The last I heard it wasn't the people making $27,000 a year causing the worlds problems.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:24 pm |
  61. Lost in Ohio

    Something has to give. My household budget dictates if I can not afford something, then we give something else up or go WITHOUT... I have Credit Card Debt and I am responsible for it. I pay my mortgage, my car payments and everything I am obligated for. What is so hard about self reliance and being responsible to yourself... NOBODY owes me anything! Really, take care of yourself!

    TeaParty, Dems, Republicans all of these folks seem self serving to their own needs. I fear for our future, I FEAR for my kids futures. My daughter says to me over dinner "Dad, I'll just go to community college for two years so you and mom wan't have to take huge loans out for me to go to school" She is 14 and knows the burden will fall to her and her younger sister. She gets it...

    We can not continue on this path. I have no answers other than we need to STOP spending and living with all these entitlements...

    April 14, 2010 at 6:24 pm |
  62. DIck

    Of course America can survive the disappearance of the middle class, Jack. What it can't survive is the disappearance of the top 5% of the populace who pay almost 61% of all federal income taxes paid. That will occur when that 5% of the populace wises up and moves elsewhere.

    Then who will be left to pay for the "government cheese"?

    April 14, 2010 at 6:24 pm |
  63. Dennis/Missouri

    Yes. The middle class will become slaves thanks in part to our congress.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:25 pm |
  64. Laurel

    The "middle class" is in servitude now. The top 5% own 50% of the wealth. Nobody makes enough money anymore to have to pay taxes, what with the foreclosure, job loss, health-related bankruptcies and all.....but hey! Rejoice! Dow over 11K - somebody's making money! It's just not 95% of us.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:25 pm |
  65. debbie eckert

    We are ALL being slaughtered like the bunch of dumb cows we are!
    Irvine, California

    April 14, 2010 at 6:25 pm |
  66. Deb

    While it's true that most lower-income households pay little to no income taxes, those in the highest income ranges pay much less (as a percent of total income) than most in the middle class. Most middle class households can't afford the type of investments that shelter many of the high-income households. On a related subject, with respect to social security and medicare taxes (paid by all US workers), the average middle income worker never hits the annual cap, and pays over 7.5% of their total wage into the system. Self employed individuals pay over 15% into these systems, yet highly compensated individuals see their social security contributions "max-out" once they earn $106k - most CEO's hit that limit in the first quarter of each calendar year. This inequity could be easily solved by removing the cap on social security wages, which would help the social security system's solvency while never impacting 95% of working americans.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:25 pm |
  67. Steve (New York)

    An unending extension of unemployment benefits isn't sustainable, but it's not meant to be. Being that unemployment is a lagging economic indicator, congress is simply trying to keep afloat the 9.7% of the country who hasn't been as fortunate as your or I in retaining employment while the rest of the economy recovers. To characterize the many (and I'd think most) people who remain unemployed as succumbing to the 'incentive' of unemployment benefits shows an absurd lack of respect of the hundreds of unanswered resumes sent and phone calls made by millions of Americans diligently seeking work. The evaporation of the middle class is a phenomenon that predates the recent economic crisis by decades and the implication that it's somehow due to people simply seeking handouts is nonsense.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:25 pm |
  68. rasberryrum

    Nobody likes living on $250 a week and everybody pays sales taxes, car registration taxes, and fuel taxes. So, the lame statement that one half is paying for the other half is bs and anyone with half a brain to think for 2 seconds for themselves would know so.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:25 pm |
  69. dennis

    Start making stuff in the u.s.a. like it was 20 years ago and then we will ahve jobs and won't have any of this foreign crap we have now. Who killed the u.s. We did..

    April 14, 2010 at 6:25 pm |
  70. Robert

    Jack, of course we can. But do we want to and will it be pretty? Probably not. It always seems to boil down to the same questions: Can we find the will to curb the spending and limit the excess, or will we force ourselves to cut the hundreds of tax loopholes and raise the overall tax burden to every worker (including the 47%). Not unless our beloved politicians quit rocking the boat and start bailing.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:26 pm |
  71. Carolyn Hopkins

    I am a 75-year-old white female Democrat in a Republican state (Georgia). Our legislature has been concerned with passing a bill to prevent implanting a microchip against anyone's will (sponsored by Chip Rogers ) while gridlock in our traffic is a major issue. Do I think the middle class is being ignored? Yes, big time.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:26 pm |
  72. orie baker

    I paid thousands in income tax this year and have paid forty years. However I not eligible for any new programs to buy a house. I could not participate in the cash for clunkers program and cannot benefit from earned income credit. I served 21 years in the USAF for most of my medical benefits.I think I will be paying more income taxes in the near future to pay for the new medical programs.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:27 pm |
  73. canada is # 1

    just drink the kool-aid and get it over with.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:27 pm |
  74. Penny

    Yes, the US will survive. Unfortunately, if the US survives with only two classes of people, then the two groups left will really miss the group in -between. For it is the "group in-between" that connects the two extremes.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:27 pm |
  75. David P Vernon

    Tucson, AZ – The middle class is shrinking as a direct result of Republican and corporatist policies which can be reversed by simple Acts of Congress. The nine year projection assumes that "present trends continue", an assumption that is actually never true – things will change, one way of the other! Successful conclusion of the campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan will eliminate between one and two trillion in annual Federal expenditures. Raising marginal income taxes on the wealthy (e.g., 49% of the second million in net taxable income) will increase revenues enough to pay for all discretionary spending, and then some. Raising the retirement age and the cap on income taxed for Social Security will bring that system back into solvency. (How about the guy who made $25B last year and paid only 15% in taxes?) Replacing all foreign tax credits with domestic tax credits will make it profitable to build factories here. We will still need cars, trains and planes, and could also make solar cells, windmills, and industrial and farm equipment, as well as movies, crops, and debt instruments. The way out is clear – all it takes is to remove conservative and Republican opposition to all forward progress by electing enough populist Democratic Senators this fall.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:27 pm |
  76. Anthony Loynes

    The US will survive but will resemble the entitlement ridden European countries, with the mediocrity the goes with it. However, during the campaign this is exactly what Obama told us he liked, so his reckless and irresponsible spending is simply his quick and certain way to get us there and, unfortunately, keep us there. This is the "fundamental transformation" of America he was talking about.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:27 pm |
  77. Jake Halm

    The middle class in this country was, in my opinion, built by the Union movement. With the demise of the Unions (for whatever reason) the middle class will be DRASTICALLY reduced. We are WELL on our way to being the country we were at the beginning of the 20th century.....the weathy running roughshod over the vast majority of the citizens of this country. Don't get me wrong, the Unions demise is, by and large, their OWN fault, but they were the savior of " the Little Guy" in this country.......

    April 14, 2010 at 6:28 pm |
  78. hall my share

    The proposition can be misleading. While one can use the 47% figure, the point seems to be to inflame us against our fellow citizens and / or government. What makes up the 47%? Identify what they earn, not just identify a %, and we can start a rational dialog about tax policy.

    We have become a nation of expanding rights to "lots of stuff", but we want someone else to pay for it. This goes for both sides of the aisle. Everybody wants a hand out when things get "tough", the guy on the street or the big wall street bank. We could benefit from thinking and working a bit more with regard our responsibilites to one another and making our country greater (it's still great). Freedom is not free as the saying goes...and it is not a "free country". Our rights and opportunities have to be earned every day, and we have to instill this in our kids from a young age. If we don't, demography alone will teach us some sobering lessons in the not too distant future.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:28 pm |
  79. Ron in Charloote, NC

    Lots of idle minds sitting around collecting govt. handouts is what would have been known as a COP-OUT in the seventies. It is surely to produce a country that will be more attuned to committing crime and other shenanigans of ill-will, due to boredom. Nothing productive can come out of this but laziness, trifling, and a country of ruination. If the middle class disappears from this country, the country will follow in SHORT ORDER.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:28 pm |
  80. Jeff

    Actually, yacht building is an excellent form of trickle down economics. It takes a lot of skilled labor to build yacht.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:28 pm |
  81. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    The middle class are surviving, it's just a difference in to whose considered middle class. The billionnaires who have fallen to the millionnaire status are the new middle class. The economy dictates the class and not people.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:29 pm |
  82. Lydalyn in Ohio

    There will always be a middle class.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:29 pm |
  83. Clifford Brown, Sr.

    How can you blame illegal immigrants for coming to the United States! Most of them will end up living with relatives and receiving the unemployment benefits. They could care less about finding a job! There is no incentive whatsoever in trying to find a job when you can live off the taxpayers. What a system!!!

    Valrico, FL.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:29 pm |
  84. Sandra

    Personally, I liked the job I had. I didn't ask for this. I made roughly three times what unemployment pays. I was extremely fortunate to get unemployment. My son went bankrupt. My brother went bankrupt and lost his house. Jobs are the answer. There always seems to be a huge disconnect between the people that have jobs and the people that don't. If you don't like it, don't fire us...we were happy. We were actually doing well until we met people that weren't necessarily even well equipped for the jobs they had, but they had more power and could eliminate our jobs. Nothing intelligent happened there...they were just protecting themselves and had power to do that. We didn't. I have a hard time following the logic presented there...if people were losing their jobs at the rate they were...do they really think we weren't looking? Crazy Absurd.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:29 pm |
  85. Pat

    No, not for long. If you want to see what a country looks like without a thriving middle class, go to Mexico.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:30 pm |
  86. Aaron from California

    Simply put, No.

    The lack of a middle-class equates to less tax money to subsidize the government and social programs. The current situation requires legislators and citizens to re-evaluate these social programs and eliminate free-riders and others that exploit such services which are designed as temporary aides.

    More importantly, the disappearance of a middle-class symbolically destroys the ideal of the American Dream.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:30 pm |
  87. Pete, King of Prussia - PA

    An America without a middle class would be like a trip to Terra, as in Gone with the Wind.

    America would turn into a Plantation Nation, where elitist politicians milk the money from the masses who work in servitude to the tax takers.

    Wait a minute, I think we are already there.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:30 pm |
  88. Greg Boardwine

    If you can tell me what the Republicans in Washington are doing with their time that is more productive than what someone who is unemployed is doing than I would maybe understand their point. The bottom line is that giving someone a few dollars to spend while they are in transition looking for work is much cheaper than foreclosing on them and sending them and their children to YMCA. Buy providing a little help now, we are actually keeping the U.S. from turning into a permanent soup kitchen.

    Greg Boardwine
    Martinsville, VA

    April 14, 2010 at 6:30 pm |
  89. Joe

    The Haves have seen about the ending of the Middle Class. Our society were already labeled with the Have nots, the rich are just adding more to the low class of society and everyone isn't looking for a small contribution, they're looking for the same promise of a productive life as the haves.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:30 pm |
  90. Jack NYC

    No. The middle class is not vanishing. The working class is. Middle class used to be a stepping stone from the working class to the upper middle class and then possibly the upper class. The problem is we do not manufacture products anymore, or less so anyway, than we did. The manufacturing jobs were the backbone of the working class. With this work now being done in other countries we have no jobs for the working class who have now slipped into the poor/welfare class. We, obviously, cannot bring back the manufacturing jobs but some kind of well-paid labor has to be created for the former working class.

    There was this illusion for a time that anyone who wore a shirt and tie and sat down in a cubicle to do computer work was not working class. This was not the case. These workers had limited skills and once these jobs were sent overseas they joined the manufacturing working class in the unemployment lines.

    The middle class is fine. They generally have skills that are specific enough and flexible enough to weather the market changes. It is the unskilled or semi-skilled laborers who have suffered the most.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:31 pm |
  91. Ron Suverk

    We need to be more self sufficient as individuals – what has happened, is that most people have allowed themselved to be fall into complacency and complacency leads to dependence on the "haves" I am afraid. Here in California, the Chinese have offered to finance and build our high speed rail system – why is that – could it be that we just don't know how anymore? how did that happen? the education system? No – it's really that people need to be more self disciplined and push them selves to learn the latest technology – to do what it takes – because frankly – doing our best just isn't good enough. BTW this is what happened to Rome – people got lazy and then the empire went down the tubes.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:31 pm |
  92. Jerry

    Along with a number of other mitigating factors it really boils down to just this one factor: There are simply too many people for this planet to support. Population growth has far surpassed what this planet can keep up with, or jobs available to them, because of automation and computers, they have eliminated the need for manual labor. We must begin to address the over populating of the planet or we'll simply 'starve' ourselves and the planet to death.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:31 pm |
  93. NobleBear73

    What do you mean " ...is disappearing"? The middle class in the U.S. is gone. Largely, if you think you're middle class you have probably been, with the collusion of popular media, hoodwinked into behaving as if nothing is wrong.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:31 pm |
  94. Deb

    Regarding Mr. Cafferty's comment regarding the unemployed and the "theory" that extending unemployment benefits is bad for the economy and many unemployed individuals "don't bother to look for a job until their benefits run out", I think the comments are WAY off base.

    Unemployment compensation isn't high enough to cover normal living expenses that are usually covered by one's salary. I know many unemployed people who would gladly JUMP at a decent job, if they could find one. Additionally, if unemployment benefits aren't extended, we'll see a WORSE impact on the economy, as more will become delinquent in their home payments, their purchases for goods and services will further decline which will cause MORE unemployment.

    For the record, I am not unemployed and I paid almost as much in income taxes in 2009 than the average US worker's annual salary.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:31 pm |
  95. David E Enochs

    Of course the Republicans are worried about the price tag of something that actually benifits the people. Where were they when we entered into an unending war with Iraq? Thye didn't seem too concerned with that price tag that evaporated the budget surplus that the Democrats had managed to amass.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:32 pm |
  96. Gary Weidman

    No..... The words of my college economics professor are still ringing in my ears, " If we have only the haves and have-not's with no middle class, we will have one government for breakfast, another for lunch and yet another for dinner. The other possibility is a dictatorship. We only have to look at other countries with no middle class to see the outcome. "

    As difficult as it is, I believe we need to wean the unemployed from the cash. Balance the effect on the economy with careing for the unfortunate while getting them back to work. Why not a sliding scale of benefits depending on how long they have been collecting.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:32 pm |
  97. Jerry - SC

    Hey Jack, yes the middle class is disappearing. While working for EDS/Hewlett Packard, I went to Malaysia to train the Mayla. 20 months after I got back EDS laid off 24,000 people, including me. These type jobs going overseas with textile and steel having BEEN gone. You have to wonder what will be the next BIG thing to come along to create the middle.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:32 pm |
  98. Tom Tipton

    Eighteen months ago, when Mr. Obama was campaigning for the Presidency, he promised us "Change." Most of those who voted for him thought the change would be positive. All of us, the media included, should have checked more deeply into his record, minimal though it may be. Change is now here and he owns it. Unless "We the People" take our country back to its' historical, constitutional roots, the United States we used to know and still love will cease to exist. Obama now owns the economy, no matter what he says. We are now on the slippery slope leading to a class of Elites and a massive population of Slaves, no matter what our national origin. God Save the United States. Thank you.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:32 pm |
  99. JIM

    DEMOCRACY is impossible when 50% do not pay any income tax.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:32 pm |
  100. Papoose

    Sure we can survive without a middle class – as a third world country with depleted resources.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:32 pm |
  101. Edward

    47% is up from what it was a generation or so ago. But with no middle class, a country will become economically polarized and that can and does lead to discord, even revolution. Maybe Marx was right and capitalism will destroy itself. Is it true what the movie "Wall Street" said,
    "Greed is good."?

    April 14, 2010 at 6:33 pm |
  102. Beth, PA

    There is a middle class in America???

    April 14, 2010 at 6:33 pm |
  103. Tim in Texas

    Jack, as of 2007, the top 1% of the country owned 34.6% of the wealth, the next 19% owned 50.5% of the wealth, and the the "bottom" 80 % owned 15.0% of the wealth. How much do you think you can suck out of the bottom half of the country? You can't get blood from a rock. It's time for some serious redistribution of wealth, not the insane 'trickle down' idiocy of the past eight years. The money has been gushing up not trickling down.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:33 pm |
  104. Dave

    Prove your thesis before asking us to comment on it.

    Is the middle class really disappearing? It seems you'd need to share some incomes statistics to prove it. For example, are there fewer people making $40-70,000 per year then similar income brackets in the past?

    April 14, 2010 at 6:33 pm |
  105. Sandra

    That messes people up to lose their jobs. Splits families. I have looked here. I would have to move to a different state...and quite frankly I'm wondering if I need to move to a different country. I wouldn't be too quick to judge...it could happen to you...easier than you think. The people that have never been through it really have no idea. Nobody wishes for this. (Maybe people that hate their present job could come up with that, but it's not rooted in reality anywhere that I can see.)

    April 14, 2010 at 6:33 pm |
  106. Lynda from Spokane

    There is still a middle class it just isn't as comfortable as it used to be. There will always be a middle class, like they say, 50 is the new 30, well the working poor is the new middle class and the destitute are the new working poor. However, the rich is still the rich.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:34 pm |
  107. John, Minneapolis

    In order for socialism to work, you must first destroy the middle class. A government that consumes 100% of GDP, is not a government worth supporting. We are more than half way there.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:34 pm |
  108. Jesse J Vancouver Canada

    Hi Jack,

    America is all about the middle class is not America.

    If this country becomes a land of people who can't find a better life then it will disapear just like the dream that is America.

    Jesse J
    Vancouver Canada

    April 14, 2010 at 6:34 pm |
  109. Jackie

    Jack, a simple way to fix the problem, change the paycheck of any elected official to an annual salary of the middle of the middle class in the area he or she represents. And never should their pay increase above this amount! If they can't make it on this, I'm sure there are several unemployed Americans with degree"s and or life experiences that would be great at the job and that would love the chance to make that kind of money and probably have a lot of ideas to bring about the return of the middle class!

    April 14, 2010 at 6:35 pm |
  110. DeMeril Riedinger

    No, I used to be part of the middle class but am now retired. I've become increasing resigned to the fact that this government we have in Washington DC will eventually take us ecnomically into oblivion. However, we have only ourselves to blame as theses are the respresentatives we continue in our ignorance or stupidity to send to Washington DC, and who when they get there are only interested in getting relelected by promising us we can have everything and for nothing – taxes, whatever. Frightening when you hear that a democracy is the best form of governement. Welcome aboard Middle East!

    April 14, 2010 at 6:36 pm |
  111. DH

    SInce we now have the greatest disparity of wealth since the gilded age, the middle class is disappearing for different reasons then you imply. If we enact policies that even out the differences in income, then the tax rate will be more in line.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:36 pm |
  112. jeane

    Jack, You forgot to remind viewers when you say" pay no/little taxes", you are referring to most who get a refund. Fuzzy speech confuses people. Sometimes they do not realize when they are being discussed. By the way, seems from your statement corporate/business freeloaders are okay.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:36 pm |
  113. Mark Ellis

    Jack, Every system is perfectly designed to get the results it gets. This one is no exception. And to be sure no one is going to like the long term results!

    April 14, 2010 at 6:36 pm |
  114. Sandy


    The middle class has been the core of America. We hear about all of the bailouts/recoveries (whatever you want to call them) assisting the large corporations. Why don't they enact a bailout for the middle class by encouraging corporations to return the jobs that were originally possessed by Americans back to America? It has been frightening watching, over the last decade plus, the middle class struggle to hold on! America will not survive without the middle class - we need to wake up and start looking out for the Americans that have built America to what it used to be!


    April 14, 2010 at 6:36 pm |
  115. Mike in Houston

    My wife and I (a registered nurse and chemical engineer, respectively) are in our early 50's and have a combined annual income of $225,000. The "thanks" we get for being a successful, definitely not rich, couple (besides having three wonderful college educated grown children) is the pleasure of paying $50,000 a year in taxes!! We don't mind "giving" monies to help our fellow Americans who are truly in need. We detest having our money taken from us in the form of taxes to fund entitlements for folks who want hand-outs and are too lazy to get an education / training to be able to work and contribute to society!!

    April 14, 2010 at 6:37 pm |
  116. Ramses

    The middle class who pay most of the taxes & support the Govt can't vanish. The govt will keep them on the life support & poorer & will be working their butts off to support the rich, the Govt & people who do not pay taxes (50%). This is America. "Can't kill the Goose that lays the Golden egg".

    April 14, 2010 at 6:38 pm |
  117. Buster in Poughkeepsie, NY

    Hey Jack, Who needs the Middle man. We hand-to-mouth HAVE-NOTTERS will do just fine without the Middle Class, thank you very much, just as long as we have hard working HAVES like you and Wolf willing to work for next to nothing so we HAVE-NOTS can have something. Now, get back to work, both of you, I'm needing a new High Def TV to watch you on.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:38 pm |
  118. Lowly State Gov't Worker

    You're right Jack. My tax liability is too low. I recommend that my cheapskate employer immediately implement a 300 percent pay increase for me and my coworkers so I can pay my fair share. The guilt is killing me. I'm willing to sacrifice my bare subsistence existence lifestyle for upper middle class status.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:38 pm |
  119. Tampa FL

    I was a small child of 11 when my dad told me that Nixon's visit to China to arrange for a free trade treaty back in the 70's would kill the middle class, and guess what it did!

    It all started with textiles, the manufacturing, then steel, now customer service, ITComputers and Engineering. What the heck do you think? The middle class has been on life support for a long time.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:38 pm |
  120. WhackyWaco

    The U.S. is headed towards a consumption tax.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:39 pm |
  121. Jack Olofson

    I am one of those that do not pay any federal income taxes. I am retired living off Social Security and a small outside income. I paid a hell of a lot of federal income tax over a period of forty years but I am sure I am included as one that did not pay taxes. Your question as posed should be backed by at least a small amount data showing what groups did not pay taxes. What about the large corporations. Jack O. olofson Wray Colrado

    April 14, 2010 at 6:39 pm |
  122. A. Lick

    Why are discussing the middle class now?? We should have been discussing the middle class years ago! The middle class withered away when Mr. Bush the II took the reigns of our country. We are clearly in a two class system, and taking ourselves back to the Medieval times, a defined Noble class, and the majority of us living in the Peasant Class.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:40 pm |
  123. Sherry

    My husband has been out of work for over a year, he's sent out hundreds of resumes, called, email tried every resourse he can find to no avail. We are in our 60's, lost a bundle in our 401, he has no health insurance and I can bearly walk. I have a full time position with great healthcare but my health is precarious to say the least. Without unemployment benefits we would be in the street, we've lost our beautiful home, sold our cars and moved to a one bedroom apartment. Does anyone have any suggestions as to what we can do if his benefits are lost, what do the wealthy Republicans expect us to do sign a suicide pact.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:40 pm |
  124. Ry

    No, when rich poor ratio reaches 78 percent or so (without middle class), we will have civil unrest.. and like many other great nations and civilizations in the past, and it will be our downfall... – I think Obama is on the right track to avoid losing the middle class,, but unemployment benefits must stop after unemployment reaches 8 percent, or a set determined time frame,,- He is also right in letting the billionaires and others take the lead on space exploration,,He is making good choices on and other issues as well.....FDR was kind of unpopular to some, but made right choices.
    Where are the Rockefeller's and other billionaires to help boost U.S. economy, creating jobs and the sort.??

    April 14, 2010 at 6:40 pm |
  125. jbrown

    JACK: the middle class will not disappear. All of us who strived to be wealthy in retirement will occupy the big fat demographic middle. Our houses and business and 201K's will be 66% of our expectations, and the second home will cost more to maintain thn it's worth. So we'll be dumping the second home, the boat, the club memberships, and joining the knitting circle at the public library. IT will be an older middle class, but we will endure. Unitl we die of course, and then it will be the young lower class and the new oligarchy. Or the Googlarchy.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:40 pm |
  126. R Britton

    I know, let's do something conservative and go back to the tax code we had in, say, 1950. Wise up folks, taxes have never been lower in your lifetime and the result is, surprise, the rich got richer.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:40 pm |
  127. Twolf

    Everyone is so hell bent on getting rid of, or breaking unions. Well this is what you get.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:40 pm |
  128. paul Ratnasamy

    First, the assumption that the middle class will vanish is wrong.
    Second, do we grudge $ 7 billion dollars a month to our own jobless when we pay Saudi Arabia $ 700 billion per year for their oil ? This is the penalty we pay for having built the only economically, industrially and militarily advanced nation which can't even provide universal education and health care to ALL its citizens like other similar countries. Lack of access to higher education( high university fees!) and health care( 40 million americans without health insurance!) has led to a large class of people who are unemployed and unemployable.

    Paul Ratnasamy, Louisville, Ky

    April 14, 2010 at 6:41 pm |
  129. TonyInLargo

    The question should not be if we can survive without the middle class. The answer to that is yes.

    The question is do we want to survive without the middle class? Answering that question in the affirmative is equivalent to accepting that the "American Dream" is no longer achievable.

    The American Dream has always driven our ingenuity and technological advances through thick and thin, through good and bad, and now is no time to abandon it.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:41 pm |
  130. Joe Muncie

    One of the reasons there is no longer a middle class is that people over 50 have a very hard time finding jobs - just at the time when their expenses are very high. Our high unemployment rate is tragic, given our natural resources and hard-working population.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:41 pm |
  131. Bill Bowes

    Wow Jack, what a surprise! The Obama administration is spending money like there's no tommorrow. Social security and Medicare are already dangerously close to being insolvent, yet, the President adds trillions of dollars to our debt with "health care reform". Well, I guess the 53% of us who are still paying taxes will just have to suck it up. The answer to this problem is simple: smaller government, less spending. A radical concept !

    April 14, 2010 at 6:42 pm |
  132. M. Niven

    Our middle class household, as well as those of our friends, is strained to the breaking point. Last year, our household paid enough in taxes to support another family, money that we could have used to cover our outrageous health insurance costs, save for college for our children, or keep our household out of extra debt. We do not buy new vehicles, we rarely pay someone else to make repairs around the house, we buy just about everything on sale, et cetera. We have worked very hard to give our children more opportunities, etc. It seems the harder we endeavor to have a nice life, the more the government takes away the fruits of our labor. In order to be polite, I cannot truly express what we think of "Uncle Sam" and his thieving ways! We have family members who are experiencing great financial hardships, yet they get up every day and endeavor to make a living. And you guessed it, they pay plenty in taxes to support the people sitting at home all day long, not because they are physically unable to work, but because it's easier for them to live off the backs of families such as mine. If I think about it too long, I become depressed! It's egregiously unfair!

    April 14, 2010 at 6:42 pm |
  133. fucklid

    The real question is, can America survive when part of the country thinks Sarah Palin - known quitter of elected office - is leadership material? When all it takes is a few keywords such as "big government" or "socialism" to fire people up, rather than concrete solutions to our nation's problems?

    Finger pointing gets us nowhere. Nor does selectively quoting reports about how much Federal Income tax people in the country pay. You realize there are plenty of other types of tax, like payroll, sales, etc, right?

    April 14, 2010 at 6:43 pm |
  134. Brown

    Lemoore, CA

    This is the end result of entitlement's, all it does is make more people less incentive to find a job, why try when it's free. It's the middle class who get the short end of the stick there plenty of legit people who could use unemplyment check during these hard times, but just as many who will abuse it. It's amazing the same solution's to what is causing this mess is to spend and borrow massive amount money that we don't actually have to solve it for a short while, until it comes back to bit twice as hard.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:43 pm |
  135. J. B.

    Anyone who thinks that people on unemployment aren't looking for a job has obviously never been on unemployment! If your lucky it covers 2/3 of your bills if you buy basic grocerys. It's hardly what someone would choose IF they could get a job!

    April 14, 2010 at 6:43 pm |
  136. Steve in Chicago

    The unemployment benefits issue is just the tail of 20 years of erosion of the middle class. Easy credit card debt and then absurd mortgage practices allowed much of that erosion to be masked - and since it "made money" for the wealthy, it continued unabated - from Reagan administration through Bush I and Clinton to Bush II, Alan Greenspan et al. But since there is no money to be made in unemployment benefits, now Republicans start wailing. Cutting off benefits now is an ill-conceived attempt to address the massive recklessness of a few by putting the punishment on the backs of the middle class (yet again).

    April 14, 2010 at 6:44 pm |
  137. Fil

    We should stop giving handouts and start spending more on defense, space programs, high-speed aviation, high-energy industry and the like. This will not just create jobs, this will create a lot of high-tech jobs.

    I personally will gladly pay my taxes if I know that part of them will be spent on Mars expedition or a working high-energy laser weapon. Hey, Progressives! Where is progress? Where are our flying car, space habitats and teleporting devices? Why don't we have a permanent Lunar mission?

    I hope China will drag us into a new weapons race and will yet be seeing all this in our lifetime. So far only videophones have materialized, and this is because of DARPA.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:44 pm |
  138. Jean

    Of course we cannot survive without the middle class. That is the engine that drives the train. No one minded "giving" to entitlements when the economy was working for us. We are a charitable nation full of good-hearted people. But when things became financially tight, changes needed to be made to ensure that the working can still earn money (by not giving so much back to Uncle Sam), and to encourage the unemployed to look for jobs and to be creative in their thinking. Working should be more lucrative then a government entitlement, but I am not so sure right now. Alot of people are choosing to remain unemployed as long as the money keeps coming in.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:44 pm |
  139. lynne j. in nc

    What middle class? There hasn't been a middle a class since Clinton. It is only the haves and the barely surviving. Since the rich run the show, we have to take what we can get. We have no choice but to barely survive. Too bad we can't cut Congress' pay to $15,000 a year without benefits. That would be an experiment I'd like to see.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:45 pm |
  140. rod

    no! we can not, and we will not prosper as a country until the middle class has gone back to work. but where are the jobs? i know China & India! so what's a hard working middle class person or family to do? move to china and india? or draw extended unemployment , so we can eat and pay our bills and live, until new jobs are created and things return to normal. or we can sit and dream about all jobs that left and never will return, like my job. the only thing stopping most of us from being homeless is our benefits. rod from jacksonville fl

    April 14, 2010 at 6:45 pm |
  141. RickFromDetroit

    No we can not survive without the middle class.
    Many of our big shots seem to think we can buy and own the world if we pay executives multimillion dollar salaries. They think they can import traitors from other countries with trade secrets and utilize them in this country.

    This is why we are wiping ourselves out and this is why we spent trillions of dollars on the financial system bailouts when the problem was at the consumer level. Our only concern was that Wall Street would maintain its status over the European Markets. This turned out to be another bust.

    It appears to me that while we continue to try to be the world leader we are transforming our country into a third world country due mainly to our own greed.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:46 pm |
  142. Jason

    It was either ancient Rome or Greece that fell do to the collapse of the middle class. I see the US following the same footsteps. Without the middle class you don't have the buyers of products. The rich usually buy high end products while the middle class buys the products that keep companies in business. Based on this, there is now way the US can survive with the middle class in constant decline. Without the middle class there is no market, without a market there will be no upper class; leaving everyone in a state of a 3rd world country.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:46 pm |
  143. Jeff M.

    No! America can not survive without its working, spending, tax paying middle class. Those who make up the middle class, regardless of the minor variations in definition, are the driving force behind the American economy. That robust, diverse economy has allowed the U.S. to become the world power that it has been. A strong economy allows military strength of course, but it also allows aid and trade in agriculture, education and all of the other areas most influential in world politics.
    As for half paying taxes and half taking a free ride, the simple, elegant answer is abolition of the income tax, the incomprehensible maze of tax law and institution of a national sales tax. No exemptions, no free rides. The more you spend the more tax you pay. From giant corporations and billionaires to the poorest of individuals, a sales tax is self adjusting and would relieve Americans and American companies of billions in tax preparation expenses.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:46 pm |
  144. jjeter

    We must not forget that even the retired & people on S/S still pay a lot of taxes ...

    April 14, 2010 at 6:46 pm |
  145. Mike in New Orleans

    The idea that Americans are inherently lazy and enjoy an "incentive not to work" is pure Republicanism, a disdain for the less fortunate. It was eight years of a Republican majority that wrecked our economy and lost jobs: let them pay the price tag

    April 14, 2010 at 6:47 pm |
  146. Sandra

    Again...the quality of the information that we get to make decisions is just flat lousy. I.O.U.S.A. was a good documentary, but we need a lot more to get everyone on the same page. We have been blinded for so long that it's pathetic.

    I don't think people would think this stuff if they had better quality information. I don't have much faith in research anymore...its twisted into lies.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:47 pm |
  147. Jerry

    The main problem is the huge descrepancy between what CEO's and the like are being paid, and the pittance that is being left for the rest of the workforce. The middle class IS disappearing and is being absorbed into the new feudal system now taking place in this country.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:48 pm |
  148. Nathan

    The middle class has been disappearing for a long time. The financial crisis shows how much we have evolved into a nation of haves and have-nots. The Republican party and the zealots in the Tea Party clearly speak for those that "have" and they do not want to hear from, or assist, those that "have-not". We are now a country divided – both economically and politically. Leadership and statesmanship are needed more than ever. Time for the incumbents in Washington to go, and true, non-partisan statesmen to replace them.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:49 pm |
  149. Tom

    Obama is bringing the middle class back!

    April 14, 2010 at 6:49 pm |
  150. Fil

    Jerry, how about starting to address the over-population of the planet from yourself? There are many ways to accomplish that. We, America, is still outrageously free country and we have our means.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:49 pm |
  151. xxx

    No. Once the middle class disappears the country will lose the last bits of democracy. The current ruling class will become the monarchy and the rest will be surfs. We are already on our way to a monarchy or dictatorship. We have a ruling class which I believe was part of why this country was created in the first place.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:49 pm |
  152. Sandra

    Why do they always blame the poor? That's crazy. We need jobs. Barriers to entry are expensive. We are down to survival mode here.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:50 pm |
  153. William

    I have to agree with Sandra the disappearance of jobs for the middle class, rips apart towns and families, brings civil unrest, anger in the inner cities between those who have and those who want. Crime increases. Divorces go up, children, families suffer. Minneapolis has 9,500 people that are homeless, some sit right downtown on the Nicollet Mall, the most prominent street in Minnesota, in Wheelchairs, with signs asking for help. We are all one door away from being jobless and homeless. The middle class was given opportunities by many banks to make their homes better, go on vacations, compile credit card bills with more debt wrapped up in their homes. Many seeking bankruptcy, or forced out of their homes by forclosure.An example of how spending more money does not always work. Keeping manufacturing jobs that pay more than $10/hr has to be a core base to build on. An economy based on 1/2 the population working at McDonalds does not help anyone. Not even the government. There will be a day when another large country, losing space to take care of its people, will swallow the US whole.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:51 pm |
  154. Bryan

    Whats more ridiculous about all this is that we don't pay any attention to what corporations actually pay in taxes. With the use of off shore subsidiaries Exxon for example earned $ if profit in 2009 but didn't pay one cent to the American government.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:51 pm |
  155. Luis Rodrigues

    How about taxing the rich corporation owners that exported jobs to cheap labor countries to pay for the unemployment caused by their actions. Middle class people are also consumers. Make sure those taxes are not passed onto consumers.

    April 14, 2010 at 6:51 pm |
  156. Sandy from Pittsburgh

    We can thank globalization for the disappearance of the middle class. Those lucky enough to be employed in US-based companies grow wealthier while the rest of us take government help–either in the form of a government or school job, or handouts. The upwardly-mobile middle class still exists–but it's in Asia

    April 14, 2010 at 6:52 pm |