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Raising Middle-Class Incomes

Accurate measurement is important, but policymakers and journalists should focus on the question of how to raise middle-class incomes rather than worrying about technical adjustments that do not affect the overall picture.

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idea_bulbData from the U.S. Census Bureau show that real median household income—the most frequent barometer of middle-class incomes—has only grown 0.23 percent per year since 1985 and has actually fallen since 2000.

How do conservatives propose to raise middle-class incomes—by increasing market income or cutting taxes while increasing transfers? Arithmetic suggests there are limits to how much one can raise middle-class incomes through taxes and transfers without raising taxes on the wealthy or increasing the deficit. A middle-class policy agenda that consists of middle-class tax cuts funded by cuts to middle-class programs or cuts to long-term economic investments, such as education, is not credible.

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