A bizarre piece in the WSJ today gives us a chance to review a couple key questions about taxes and the wealthy, including: Are $250K-earners middle class? Did rich people think Obama was kidding about raising their taxes? And should we pity those burdened with the indignity of renting their beach house?
Meet Donald and Ellen Parnell. They pull in around $250K a year. He drives an Infiniti (but it's sort of old) They vacation at a beach resort every year (but it's owned by other people). They own a large home (but are reluctant to renovate). Why are we writing about them again?
Their feelings. As Ms. Parnell puts it: "I'm not complaining, but the reality is Obama may call me wealthy, but I thought we were just good old middle class...Our needs are being met, but we don't have a load of cash to cover wants."
Middle class? Not according to the Census. Out of approximately 116 million households in the United States, about 2.2 million earn more than $250,000. That's 1.9%. It is simply impossible - statistically and intuitively - that the 98th percentile of anything is a part of the "good old middle." It is quite literally like saying that living in the western suburbs of Philadelphia -- which is about 98% of the way between San Francisco and New York -- is like living in the middle of the country.