Within weeks of taking office, President Obama formed a Middle Class Task Force, and declared “The strength of our economy can be measured by the strength of our middle class.” MCTF chairman Vice President Joseph Biden, agreed: “Quite simply, a strong middle class equals a strong America.” Fast forward to today, and middle-class America is in “free-fall,” says the National Journal:
The [president’s Middle Class] task force issued what would be its only annual report in February 2010; in the introduction, Biden reminded Obama, “You have consistently stressed that we will be, and should be, judged by the extent to which our agenda lifts the living standards of hardworking, middle-class Americans.”
Obama’s reelection campaign is built around that promise—of an agenda lifting the middle class from a prolonged slump—and the hope that voters won’t judge too harshly the results so far.
Fingers crossed because the results aren’t good, as the National Journal continues:
The middle class in America today is not better off than it was four years ago, not better off than it was at the end of the Great Recession in 2009, not even better off than when President Clinton left office in 2001. …
Inflation-adjusted median income fell by 2.3 percent in 2010 (the last year for which official statistics are available) and dipped below $50,000 per year for the first time since 1996, the Census Bureau reports. Real median weekly wages last quarter were lower than at the same time in 2002—and down 1.5 percent from the second quarter of 2010. …
Since 2000, the Pew Research Center reported recently, “The middle class has shrunk in size, fallen backward in income and wealth, and shed some—but by no means all—of its characteristic faith in the future.”
I’m sure the folks at bumper-sticker re-election headquarters are firing up the presses over this one.