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No middle class doubt

A Pew Research Center survey released Wednesday shows that more and more middle-class Americans say they aren't better off than they were five years ago, offering a short-term assessment of personal progress that is the worst in nearly half a cen...

A Pew Research Center survey released Wednesday shows that more and more middle-class Americans say they aren't better off than they were five years ago, offering a short-term assessment of personal progress that is the worst in nearly half a century.

The survey maintains that 53 percent of Americans define themselves as "middle class," making family incomes of $40,000 to $100,000. The survey, as reported by The Associated Press, states that a majority of Americans believe they haven't progressed in the last five years, and one in four say their economic situation hadn't improved and 31 percent said their financial situation had gotten worse. The last time there was so much pessimism in a survey was in 1964.

But the Pew research also shows the wealthiest did much better - from 1983 to 2004, the median net worth of upper-income families grew by 123 percent and outpacing the gains of middle-income families by 4-to-1, at 29 percent.

Looking ahead at the rest of this year, half of the middle class surveyed said they expected to make cuts in spending. And among those with jobs, one in four expressed worries they may be laid off, their job outsourced or their employer would pull up and move.

The survey indicates a majority of Americans believe the economy is going south, whether we're in a recession or not. With that high a rate of no confidence, words alone that the US economy isn't in a recession just won't work. Congress and the administration must come up with new plans to stimulate the economy. We fear that the stimulus checks due in the next month or two will be woefully short of doing anything. People most likely will pay a few bills or put it in savings, and not buy big ticket items that will stimulate manufacturing. At $600 a person, the amount is hardly even a down payment on a "big ticket" such as a vehicle. And it won't solve the mortgage and credit crisis that has a firm grip on pulling the economy down.

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It's also hard to justify the administration's insistence on making permanent tax cuts that have been proven to yield the biggest benefit to the top 1 percent of Americans.

But we also wonder, what role does our nation paying - off budget - $12 billion a month, trending to $3 trillion, for war in Iraq and Afghanistan play in creating a recession?

THE BEMIDJI PIONEER

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