The Rich Vote

Posted on September 30, 2010 by


The economy is a touchy subject in today’s election atmosphere. The finger-pointing is in full effect and the debate over extending the Bush Tax Cuts has further divided the classes. Even with all of this division and attention given to the income disparities between the richest 1% and the rest of the nation, there are still some that do not believe there is a class system in the United States. PBS made a film called “People Like Us: Social Class in America” to help show those who disbelieve the truth.   

As mentioned in the short clip from the movie, there are several categories to consider when discussing class structure in the United States.  For the purposes here, I would like to focus on who is considered “rich” in the United States, whether or not those considered “rich” by others actually feel rich, and how this feeling of richness translates in their vote.   

Speaking of one’s financial situation is taboo in the United States.  It is part of the reason everyone says they are middle class.  In the past, there was a stigma attached to being rich or poor.  Today that is increasingly becoming the truth.  You are either rich or poor.  The middle class is shrinking by the decade.  The obscene disparity between incomes has increased every decade since the 80s.    

Please listen to a short NPR interview on the topic.:   


As you heard, Timothy Noah reported a 10-part Slate magazine series on the growth of income disparity in the U.S.  He believes the wealthy may be defined in three categories: the sort-of rich are those who make more than $100,000; the rich — those in the top 1 percent — earn more than $360,000; and stinking rich — those in the .01 percent — make more than $1 million.   


Taken from a slide show in the 10 part Slate series illustrating the increasing income disparity in the United States.

We have looked at who has the money, now let us consider how the rich feel about their money.  The economy and tax cuts are always an issue, but because President Obama only wants to extend tax cuts to people making less than $250,000, the GOP and Tea Party extremists are enraged.  Apparently so are the people who will be effected by this “tax hike”.    

I don’t know how many of you have heard of Todd Henderson, but I would like to use him as an example of what is going on in this election.    


Todd Henderson, author of a blog that caused an erruption of discussion about being rich in the United States.

Todd Henderson has recently become a hot topic because of his blog.  Until recently, his blog never received much notoriety or criticism, but he has taken it down now due to threats against his family.  Todd thought it would be a good idea to post his income and a breakdown of his expenses on his blog named, “We are the Superrich” to illustrate to his readers how people who make over $250,000 a year are struggling as much as everyone else, and they also deserve the Bush Tax Cuts to be extended to them.    

Let us review his bio.  He is a neighbor to President Obama and a corporate law professor at the University of Chicago.   

President Obama's house and block in Chicago. Todd Henderson lives 2 blocks away.

  Mr. Henderson writes in his blog, “A quick look at our family budget, which I will gladly share with the White House, will show him that, like many Americans, we are just getting by despite seeming to be rich.  We aren’t.”  He went on by saying the combined income of him and his wife (who is a doctor) is more than the $250,000 cutoff Obama has proposed (their combined income is propbably close to $350,000).  They pay $100,000 in state and federal taxes per year, $15,000 per year in property taxes, and have over $250,000 in student loan debts.  He does not believe they are “superrich” and he does believe that extending the cuts to the lower and middle classes only will hurt his family.  He also forgets to mention that he and his wife are probably both paying off public loans.  He can use the public money to better himself but then whines when he has to pay taxes based on his large income.    

If the rich do not feel rich, no wonder to them paying their taxes is painful.  Todd made himself the perfect example of why only extending the Bush Tax Cuts to those who earn less than $250,000 is bothering people in his position.  The rich don’t feel rich, and they have no idea what it is like for the majority of Americans living on way less per month than he is.

Here is a woman with a personal account of what it is like to truly be struggling in America:   n_face_of_poverty.cnnmoney

They take for granted their lawn people, house cleaners, nannies, and private schools.  They do not realize how many people are just struggling to feed and educate their children.  This disconnect with their lifestyles and the lifestyles of their fellow Americans is driving the anger at what they feel are unfair and burdening taxes.  This anger is fueling a vehicle of action, causing people to vote against anyone they believe will tax them in the future.

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