Once again a Democrat's letting the Right set the terms of the debate. This time it's House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who's undercutting her party's tax policy in an odd way: by redefining "middle class" so that it includes people making a million dollars a year.
Pelosi's proposal would be great for millionaires - and bad for everyone else.
It hurts the nation economically by depriving the government of revenue when it should be providing more stimulus funding. It also muddies her party's messaging, and reinforces the unpatriotic idea that taxes are punishment rather than a fair exchange. Nancy Pelosi is better than this.
How good is her proposal? Let's take a closer look.
The Upper Upper Upper Upper Upper Middle Class
President Obama has proposed ending the Bush tax breaks. That would, among other things, raise the tax rate from 35 percent to 39.6 percent for income above $250,000. But since he's keeping taxes where they are for income below $250,000, that would preserve a tax break for millionaires too!
After all, you can't earn a million dollars unless you earn $250,000 first.
Nevertheless, Minority Leader Pelosi sent a letter to her Republican counterpart, House Speaker John Boehner, demanding an immediate up-or-down vote on a very different proposition: letting the tax cuts expire for income above a milliondollars.
To make matters even more confusing, Leader Pelosi described the proposal as an "extension of the middle-class tax cuts." While opinions differ on what constitutes a middle-class income, this appears to be the first time in history that a million-dollar income was characterized as "middle class." The average personal income in the United States as of the last survey was $39,959 and, as