A Sweet 16 to Build a Strong Middle Class

Karla Walter presents 16 ideas for the middle class that aren’t part of the national debate but should be.

Read the full column (CAP)

President Barack Obama has focused on the middle class since taking office, whether in the form of the Affordable Care Act, which addresses the critical middle-class challenge of providing affordable, high-quality health care for families, or by providing tax relief. Increasingly the president and his team are zeroing in on a strong middle class as integral to the vitality of the American economy as a whole—and the State of the Union address coming next Tuesday will be another opportunity to emphasize middle-class-led growth and to mention additional policy measures.

The 16 reforms below do not come close to rebalancing the scales of our economy between the wealthy and the 99 percent. For instance, they don’t focus on the shamefully modest taxes we impose on the superwealthy or the dangers of financial markets diverting resources from the real economy into casino capitalism.

But they do fit into a larger agenda to create jobs, strengthen the middle class, and ensure that the economy works for everyone. These are ideas—some modest, others more sweeping—that can spur middle-class-led growth but haven’t received the attention or support they deserve.

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Karla Walter

Senior Fellow, Inclusive Economy