Tags: Reeves | progressive | policies | income

Brookings Institution's Reeves: Middle Class Really Isn't So Bad Off

By    |   Wednesday, 12 November 2014 03:03 PM

You might not be surprised to hear criticism of the conventional wisdom that all is bleak for the middle class. But you might be surprised to learn that one source of that criticism is liberal author Richard Reeves.

"Progressives, these days, are a gloomy bunch," he writes in The Atlantic.

"As they see it, there's much to be gloomy about: poverty levels are stuck, they say. . . . Income inequality is soaring. . . . And, to top it all off, middle-class incomes are flat, or even falling."

Not so fast, says Reeves, policy director of the Center on Children and Families at the Brookings Institution. "Each of these claims is a significant overstatement. In fact progressives have every reason to be celebrating right now."

And why is that?

"Because progressive policies are working," Reeves writes. He cites Medicare, Medicaid, the earned income tax credits, tax cuts for the working poor and expanded health coverage as policies that are helping.

"All of these policies are making Americans better off than they would otherwise be," Reeves says.

"So why are progressives such Eeyores? Here’s one theory: In order to justify government action, they overdramatize the scale of the problem at hand. Unless you can convince voters there is a real problem, what hope is there of gaining support for a solution?" he asks.

"For progressives, doom and gloom will be a self-defeating political strategy, since it adds steadily to the sense that government doesn’t work. This will be especially true in 2016 after occupying the White House for two terms."

Meanwhile, two prominent conservatives take aim at the highly publicized study from economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez stating that income inequality is spiraling higher.

"Problems with the underlying data significantly distort the debate," former Sen. Phil Gramm, R-Texas, now a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, and Michael Solon, former budget adviser to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., write in The Wall Street Journal.

The problem with the Piketty-Saez data is that it excludes the impact of taxes, they say.

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You might not be surprised to hear criticism of the conventional wisdom that all is bleak for the middle class. But you might be surprised to learn that one source of that criticism is liberal author Richard Reeves.
Reeves, progressive, policies, income
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2014-03-12
Wednesday, 12 November 2014 03:03 PM
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