Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton likes to talk about how she’s the best choice for middle class Americans. The only problem… she’s not exactly sure who qualifies as a middle class American.
Asked this week to define the middle class by a reporter this week, Clinton rambled off a series of vague statements about how “the middle class is real” and “a reflection of the success of the United States from the very beginning.”
“The way I talk about it is to say we know what the median income in America is, but if you’re living in high-cost areas, if you have kids you’re trying to educate and send to college, if you face healthcare costs that are beyond the average; staying in and progressing up in the middle class takes more money in some parts of America than it does in others,” she said.
But beyond reasserting that her administration would impose hefty new taxes on American individuals and small businesses making more than $250,000, Clinton offered little detail about how she could help grow the nation’s middle class.
“The middle class is both real and aspiration,” Clinton concluded. “And I want to make sure that it remains strong and it gives people a sense of security and confidence and optimism about their futures.”
Clinton is right to suggest that different geographic locations throughout the U.S. have different standards for inclusion in the middle class because of cost of living. In places like Maryland and Alaska, upper middle class earners are making nearly $200,000 while the lower end of the middle class bottoms out around $50,000 yearly. By contrast, Mississippi residents are considered middle class between the range of (lower) $26,000 a year to (upper) $76,000 yearly.
But Clinton’s adherence to the Obama administration’s policy of harshly taxing American individuals and businesses earning more than $250,000 a year will hurt workers at both extremes.
That’s because someone earning that amount in a costly Virginia suburb is going to take the tax hit much harder than someone who earned the millions that Clinton and her husband rake in each year peddling influence. In addition, the likelihood that a person in places like Mississippi earning $250,000 or more each year are running small businesses and paying employees is high. Tax increases on those businesses will lead to fewer members of the middle class in those areas as small business owners are forced to cut costs by letting go their most expensive employees.
This isn’t the first time Clinton has shown voters that she doesn’t understand the relationship small business owners have to the American middle class.
During a speech in New Hampshire at the beginning of the 2016 election, the candidate said she only learned that U.S. small businesses were struggling under the Obama administrations mountain of new taxes and regulations after “doing some digging.”
“I want to be sure we get small businesses starting and growing in America again. We have stalled out. I was very surprised to see that when I began to dig into it,” she said at the time. “Because people were telling me this as I traveled around the country the last two years, but I didn’t know what they were saying and it turns out that we are not producing as many small businesses as we use to.”