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>> coming up in one hour, a discussion on the state of the u.s. middle class with jim tankersley, "washington post" economic correspondent and erin currier with pew charitable rusts. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2016]] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. isit ncicap.org] host: and this morning's "washington journal" is a look at america's middle class, how it's defined, how it's managing, what it means today to be middle class and most importantly, what is your life like in the middle class? if you consider yourself to be in america's middle class, we want to hear your story this morning and the numbers are on your screen. 202-748-8000 for those of you in the east and central time zones. 202-748-8001 if you live in the mountain and pacific time zones. now you could also make a comment via social media. and you can join the
conversation already taking lace on our facebook page, facebook.com/c-span. what's your life like in the middle class is the question. recently, the pew research center came out with a study. here are some of the findings. what americans say it takes to be middle class. most say it takes a secure job, the ability to save money and further on, it's kind of split. time or money for vacation, owning a home, 57% say no, you don't need to own a home to be in the middle class. and 69% say no, you do not have to have a college education. the sheer adults living the middle household income has allen.
and no single decade stands out as hastened the decline in the middle. 61% of folks consider themselves to be middle class or were in "the middle" in 1971. that's now down to about 50%. all the other numbers, lowest, ower middle, upper middle have tayed pretty steady. pew more facts from the research center. who is middle class and upper income? there's a lot of different definitions economically of what it means to be middle class. who is middle income and upper
income? pew defines it this way. $24,000 a year in income. if you're a single person, $34 ,000. for two people, $41,000 for a family of three. $48,000, a family of four. and $54,000 for a family of five. while the upper middle income figures are here, 72, ranging up to $162,000. so those are some of the economic numbers behind being middle class, according to pew. here's another study we want to share with you. and this is by the business insider. and it looks at the different states. and what it takes to be middle class in all of the different states. here is the charts. what you need to be middle class. in maryland, where the median household income is $72,000.
the lower part of being middle class is $48,000 while the upper is $144,000. and you can see it goes all the way down missouri, where the median income is $46,000. it's $3,000 to $93,000. so those are the general numbers. but again, our goal this morning is to hear your story. and to find out what it means to you to be in the middle class. let's begin with a call from john in myrtle beach, south carolina. john, good morning. caller: good morning to you and all the c-span viewers. host: so first of all, do you consider yourself to be middle class? caller: yes, i do. host: what kind of income range do you have? caller: $60,000, $62,000. host: ok. so what's life like? caller: well, i mean in myrtle beach, $62,000 does pretty well.
i mean, but the thing i'm thinking about is the overall picture. i mean, we're now over the last ndred years, we moved from a laissez faire economy to where government had its hands off to now a government controlled economy which basically now has otten us by not allowing the week in the market to fail. different spending, support numerous countries around the world and shipping overseas industry because of our bad tax policy. so, you know, the quantitative easing's going to dilute the dollar. so that's going to create less opportunity and more disposal income that's going to have to use by delay existence by our population. host: are your economic expenses
better or worse than they were 10, 20, 30 years ago? caller: well, that's a relative deal. take a big hit in 2008. but at the same time, you know, i was fortunate enough to adjust. but for the populous and the overall economy, that's the thing i'm worried about. i mean, our kids right now, they can't even afford to get out of their family's home or pay off student debts or anything like that. host: what kind of work do you do, john? caller: well, i used to be in middle management and now i'm just doing contract. but the interesting thing -- that's why i think this big thing about trump. because trump wants to bring a lot of our industry back to domestic. and i mean, perfect example, the new balance story that the united states military was going to be able to get new balance, the last tennis company in the united states at cost and they wouldn't do it because they want
to buy from china. that's what the appeal of trump is right now. if they're not going to deal with us on a fair playing field like fair economics, he's not going to worry about the benevolence issue. he's saying we'll put the people back to work which will create the elevation of the middle class. host: all right, john, we're going to leave it there and talk with andre in conyers, georgia. andre, do you consider yourself to be middle class? caller: yes, i do. host: tell us a little bit about yourself. caller: well, i'm an african-american male. i'm not college educated. my wife is. and as a family, you know, we consider ourselves given the statistics you showed to be in the upper middle class. host: so what kind of income in your family do you have? caller: well, i guess we just did our taxes and together, my
wife and i, we made about $ 14,000, $145,000 in 2015. host: so do you feel that you are economically secure? caller: you know, we're doing ok. i mean, have a child who's about to go to college. he graduates from high school this year. so, you know, we're getting ready for that. i wish i would have had a little bit more savings for that. you know, we're definitely having to apply for financial aid. but, you know, our situation has gotten better over the last, you know, ay 20 years, you things are improving. i do think it's up to the individual to make it in life. we all need a hand though every now and then. but i guess for myself and my family, i just think things have gotten better. i think over the course of
president obama's term, it hasn't been a disaster like some would have you believe. i would definitely take the eight years of president obama's term over the last two years of bush when you were seeing families just being put out of their homes and that's what it seems like the economy was on the bust. but now i think things are improving and hopefully, whoever the president is, whether that's hillary, trump or whoever, they just continue to improve and just make things better for this country. host: andre, what kind of work do you do? caller: i'm a technician. i actually work for a phone company. i'm a technician. and my wife's actually a nurse. a registered nurse. and like i said, i have three kids. one's getting ready to go to college. one is in the military. and like i said, it's just things are not as bad as you
would have -- the media would have you believe. host: do you have -- do you feel you're in a better position than your parents? caller: oh, definitely. although once again, i did not go to college. neither did my parents but they were not in the middle class. growing up in new york, we were on public assistance. so i lived through all of that. i've been on parents on food stamps. now, i've actually never -- no, i was on food stamps for public assistance once but the ironic about that was that's when i was in the military and that's the only time in my life where i had to get assistance from the government is when i was in the military. but -- host: andre, thanks for sharing some of your story with us this morning. as you can guess, all the candidates this year, four years
ago, eight years ago, 12 years ago, talk about the middle class. here's a little of bernie sanders. bernie sanders cloil it is not just wealth -- bernie sanders: it is not just wealth, it is income. in america today, we have millions of people working longer hours for lower wages. have families today where mama's working 40 hours, dads are working 40 hours. the kids are working. and they're still not earning enough money to provide for heir families. and that is why together, we are going to create an economy that works for all of us, not just he 1%.
together, we are going to end this absurd -- absurdity of having a national minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. [applause] together, we are going to create a minimum wage which is a living wage, $15 an hour. [applause] it is not a radical idea to say that in america, in kentucky, in vermont, if you work 40 hours a week, you should not be living in poverty. host: and this is an older "washington post" article from a couple of years ago but it talks about who receives benefits, government benefits. and this is brad plumer. the bulk of entitlement program spending goes towards the middle class. this is from budget and policy
authorities. by entitlement, cbpp is including social security, medicare -- host: carol on twitter says that the middle class is hardest hit. poor and rich get breaks. poor and qualify get in free to best cools. rich can pay, middle class, no. bob is from rhode island. tell us about yourself, bob. caller: hi. this is peter, right? host: yep.
caller: yeah. well, i watch c-span almost every morning. i'm 78 years old. host: thanks for watching. caller: i think i'm middle class, but i'm pretty sure i'm middle class, but it's a difficult place to be right now. we own a small business. i'll give you a quick rundown. i graduated from high school, in the navy four years, accepted to college while the vietnam war was getting started. i became a teacher. i became a guy dance counselor. i retired from counseling. and i have a small pension from teachers pension and we started a small business, my wife, myself and my sons and basically, it's the same thing right now. we have a very small fish usiness. maybe the reasons are many for
that. but nevertheless, as far as -- host: bob, when you were a teacher, when were you a teacher? caller: i was a teacher -- i ft teaching in the early 1990's. from the 1960's, early 1960's to -- host: ok. did you consider yourself to be middle class when you were teaching? caller: i felt that at that time , i was close. i mean, my father died when i was young. my mother never worked. i've never had -- i'm not complaining now because in the 1950's when i grew up as a kid, i felt i had more potential opportunities then than i ever had since then. even with a master's degree and all the rest of it. but that's my own problem, not necessarily the country -- make not be a problem in the country.
anyway, yeah, i suppose so. i suppose i did. host: you don't sound like you feel economically secure today. caller: no, i don't. don't. host: even with social security and business? caller: here's what i could do, peter to become economically secure. i could just sell the business that we own, ok? and then my son would be off doing whatever he would have to do after that. and that would put me on a fairly easy path myself and my wife. but there were other considerations in life other than just money. and right now, i'm a very lucky but n doing what i do do, as far as traveling or anything like that, it's out of the question. host: let's say your car breaks down tomorrow, could you come up with the money needed to fix it? caller: it's amazing you bring that up. we have two cars and i have a
truck. truck pertaining to the business too but i have to have the truck. but my other car, we have two cars, is sitting in the driveway. i was told it would cost me $2,000 to get it inspected and i said i can't do it. i can't do it. it's there. i'm trying to figure out a way to fix it myself if i can. but no. i would say no. i'm thinking about it would like to buy a car. if you do that, you have to not do something else. host: what kind of -- i don't know if this is the correct question or not, but when it comes to public policy, is there -- is there a government policy? is there a new way of doing things to make your economic life better? caller: i've listened to a lot of c-span and i listened to of course, the political arena right now is something as
everybody is saying over and over again, it's the most bizarre situation we've ever come across and i hate to mention any name but i'll mention two names. i'll mention kasich and i'll mention bernie sanders. and the republican side, if i had to vote, i could vote for him. and the other one is bernie sanders and bernie sanders, everybody said oh, who's going to pay for this? who's going to pay for that? that's not a problem with this country. it's a matter of the will to pay for that. or the will to pay for things. and i think the political situation in this country as -- has been repeated a hundred times over by many people. that's why i love this program. you get thoughts from regular people and they're very -- and they're not only varied but sometimes they're great. host: bob in rhode island, we appreciate your time this morning. let's hear from darrell in georgia. darrell what, do you want to tell us? caller: hi, good morning, peter.
host: good morning. caller: good morning to c-span. well, your question is what's your life like in the middle class? that's a double-edged sword. my wife and i, we have two family income. we have about $135,000, $140,000 combined. we are empty nesters. our children are all grown up and graduate from college. so life is ok. we make pretty decent income. everything now is much more expensive to survive. my concern is i'm only concerned with my children. you know how in each generation, my wife and i, we're doing better than our parents did. but somehow, i don't see that happening with our future generation, with my children being able to succeed and do better than both my wife and i. but like i said, you know, i have to admit, under president obama, things have improved a
lot for my family in particular. taxes, i do have an issue with middle class in squeezing taxes. i do feel like we pay a heavy tax burden, especially if you got into the point where your children are now grown and you and your wife, you strike zone the deductions and i just feel like -- i have a tax break every year, i do. and i have a concern there. but life in the middle class, i have to admit right now, it's ok. host: darrell, could you or your wife quit your job and stay at home if you wanted to? caller: one of us? host: right. caller: yes. it would make things extremely tight for the lifestyle that we live. i think we could manage, yes. but it would make things a little difficult. host: thank you for your time this morning, sir. arnold in east meadow, new york. you are on c-span.
what's your life like in the middle class, arnold? arnold? we're going to move on to stewart. stewart's in petersburg, virginia. stewart, tell us about your life in the middle class in petersburg, virginia. caller: oh, it's great. it's great. well, i make between $100,000 and i guess inhert wealth because i live in the same home that i bought in 1770. it.id $3,500 around i own everything around it. government check. social security. i don't have a very extravagant life and live a good life, very, very, very good. it's good. it's good. and well, i guess i thought about this year ago that you should have your home paid for at a time you retire and your
car paid for and make your life better. host: stewart, you started early investing in properties around your house? caller: yes, sir. host: made a difference? caller: yes, sir, it made a difference. that's worth aty lot now and i have run-up property and money still coming in. if i want to make more money, i go up on their rent. and it's been very good to me. host: yeah, i'm sorry. go ahead. caller: i have no complaints. host: stewart in petersburg, virginia. lee this cedartown, georgia. lee, you consider yourself middle class and what does that mean to you? caller: well, i feel like i was in middle class. i can't say that i am anymore. i own my own home but for the last five years, i fail from
that to a poor state. host: why? caller: work. i mean, the only reason why that i still live in my home is because i never took a alone and -- loan and i don't have any credit cards. me and my wife and my which 2 children. they're in high school. i watched my friends' businesses get pushed out. i watched people that say that they can buy stuff that's cheaper but i don't know if anybody's nose is split. it hurts our economy when we don't have stuff made here but a lot of the stuff -- stuff that you buy now, it seems to tear up. everything from my shoes to my washing machine, it's tearing up in my home. and i guess you get what you paid for and it is cheaper but you have to buy more of it. when you buy stuff from the u.s., it's not only is jobs and income and gets people out of a
state of dependency, but it puts money back in our economy and can keep people from getting depressed or, you know, having to go on some kind of welfare system. host: so, lee, what kind of work have you done over the years? caller: for 15 years, i was in the power lines. and, you know, when that was tooken over because there were cheaper labor and with my crew hat i work with -- host: and are you doing any work now? caller: well, i went to land -- and it was pushed out and landscape was pushed out and no, sir. host: ok. so do you get any government assistance? caller: food stamps. i have up to $5,000 or almost $5,000 left. i don't have a house payment.
so, you know, only thing that i have to pay is just my power and water and, you know, i do have the -- i do have a tv. so i guess that is a thing that i don't need, but i pay that bill. i've never had a credit card. so just the way that i've lived, i've never borrowed so it's kept me from. i've been able to live for the last five years, i've lived from my 00 to $12,000 -- or with kids but would only get food stamps. but when it come out for the insurance, you know, the obama care and stuff, me and my wife, we was like we're going to get tax because what helps us, we got a tax credit. i've kind of spread that out through the year of any times things was getting hard. but it was a thing.
i was like we don't want to go into -- so we found this thing onre it was just a -- to get insurance because of the positions that we were in. and i was like i haven't been to the doctors in probably 10 years. nd i said well, will this give it? all tax -- all insurance that i've ever paid, my truck insurance, my home insurance, you know, it's like every six months or every year, i have to renew it. and what's being weird is for three years since i've got that stuff that i paid one penny, it costs me more to get a money order to get it but since i've had it for three years, i've never redone it. it's stuck with me. i wonder what it was cost and who was paying and taxpayers will pay $150 for me and $150 for my wife of each time we done our taxes a year. host: all right. lee, we're going to leave it there.
that's lee in georgia. another candidate who's talked about economic policies, the middle class and jobs, donald trump. donald trump: people have a wage increase. one of the reasons i have 25,000 people showing up to hear me speak at one night and we turn away 15,000 people is because these workers, these incredible workers, these middle class -- many of them haven't had an effective wage increase in 20 years. and some of them are making less money, many of them are making less money now than they've made 20 years ago and they're being taxed at a much higher rate and they're working much harder. supposed to be the opposite. you're getting older. you're supposed to be working a little bit less. but these are people that work harder and they have two jobs and they make less than 20 years ago. that's why you're wondering what's going on and why they're not liking republicans or democrats. they're not like either to be honest with you.
they don't like anybody and they don't liar conservatives and they don't like liberals. they don't like liberals. they're people that work very hard. host: if you want to hear about politics, you can turn to c-span2 at 8:00 a.m. reince priebus will be there. back to the pugh study on the middle class. -- pew study on the middle class. you can see here that if you are in the middle income group, your house for the most part, is your main asset and then stocks and bonds after that. others is over here. and business is a smaller amount . the upper income, the house is one -- is a smaller portion of your portfolio where the stocks and bonds is the largest along
with the business. and down in the lower income, the latter you go, the more important a house is for assets. dan libby, montana. what does it take to be middle class in libby, montana, dan? caller: well, libby, montana, is where i live now. lived in nevada, northeastern washington and alaska working as a underground contract planner. and i've made as much as $140,000 in a year. i've done very well. i've been single all my life or most of my life. i was married a couple of years right after i got out of high school. but i was wondering if you have seen anything in the papers there? i just heard in the last couple of days that they're predicting about 100,000 immigrates coming
across our southern border and every one of them is going to get a check for $17,000 from the federal government. and that's more than most people on social security make. host: do you really think -- i'm not sure where you saw that. but do you really think that's going to happen? caller: yeah, i do. do they have a job? host: dan, let's not take this conversation and change what we're trying to do today. and what we're trying to do today is talk about the middle class. we're not necessarily talking about any of the candidates. we're not talking about trade. i mean, all of these things play part, but our goal and we're not talking about immigration. they all play parts in our discussion, but our discussion today is what is your life like in the middle class and monroe, georgia, rob, tell us about your life in the middle class.
have an ell, i interesting perspective. i'm 19. and, of course, i'm not being 19, i'm not very experienced in the workforce. host: are your parents middle class? were you raised middle class, rob? caller: yes, sir. host: what kind of work do your parents do? caller: my father works in cabinetry and my mother is a social worker. host: ok. are you economically secure in your family, do you feel? caller: i feel that way, yes. there were a couple of times in my childhood where we had to rape together enough money because my mother had gone for
an associates degree. so that took up a lot of her time so we had to live on my father's income which wasn't too bad but we had to move houses a lot. we were fore closed on a couple of times. but once i became 16, i got my first job. and i darted -- started helping with my family to trying to reate some more stability. my mother had graduated from college when i was 18. once i had graduated from high school, so she had got an job rather quickly. but so i'm working a job. my father's working a job. my mother is. host: so you're contributing to the family pot, as it were? caller: yes, sir. host: if any of the three of you lost your job, what would that do to your economic security?
lost my job had during high school, but i had picked up another one within i think two months. host: ok. did it affect the economic security of the family? caller: it -- not really. we had to cut back on what we were spending. we had to kind of conserve our energy, especially in the house with electronics and heating, you know. but we were able to get by. host: so as somebody who's a product of the middle class, do you think you're going to do better than your parents? what's your outlook? caller: i think that generally,
i would do -- i'm not going to say i would do better than them. i would say if i go out and i get my education while i'm working this job, which is possible, you know. they have online courses and such. if i get my education, i'll actually be able to advance past where my parents are now. i would be able to move forward, move upwards. so, yes. host: ok. rob, i'm going to run through this list. this is from the pew research center and it's what americans say it takes to be middle class. a secure job, the ability to save money, time, money for vacation, owning a home, and a college education. of those five, how many of those have you achieved?
caller: i am working on my college education. host: ok. caller: i don't own a home, but i live with my parents. host: who own their home? caller: yes. host: ok. do you have time and money for a vacation? caller: yes, a very short vacation, but a vacation. host: ok. have you been able to save any money in your family? caller: we have put up some savings for my sister's college fund. host: ok. secure jobs. do all three of you have secure jobs? caller: well yes, fairly secure. my job isn't -- oh, it's a low level job, but i don't know. i have health insurance, life insurance. host: all right. rob, thanks for your time this morning. ron is in new york. tell us your story, ron. caller: hey. i'm originally born and raised in new york. we were a middle class family
starting out but my father had a stroke around the time when i was about 5 or 6 and that pretty uch plunged us into poverty. i'm raised by a single mother at that point. we made it by. and then we lost her when i was 15. and my brother and sister are pretty much finished raising me then. they managed to finish in college and then i went on to finish in clen as well. host: so what is your life like now? how much money do you generally, how much do you make? caller: over $85,000 right now. host: do you feel economically secure? caller: yes, i do. i was throng the five calls, out of those five things, i hit all five. host: congratulations. caller: thanks.
but i mean, i really called in to give the perspective of a younger middle class person because i'm only 30 and it sounds like a lot of the other callers are little bit older, except for the last caller. but one thing that no one's talking about is the burden of student loans. me and my wife, we combine over $50,000 coming out of college with student loans and that's a burden we're still dealing with. but luckily, it hasn't affected us too much. host: ron, what kind of work do you do, ron? caller: electrical engineer. host: do you feel secure with your position and with your company? caller: yes, i do, very much so. worst case scenario, i can always go back to my old company. i feel very secure there. i plan on getting a masters in
the next couple of years. host: all right. what do you think about some of the political conversation that's going on about the middle class either jobs in america or tax cuts or tax reform? caller: yeah. i got a lot of opinions. so first, i'll start with obama care. i think that is probably one of the greatest piece of legislation we've passed in the last probably last few decades in our country. the fact is that people need health coverage. my family being one example of how things can go from bad to worse if someone gets sick and you strike zone the money to cover it or if the insurance company doesn't back you as they promised. and then there's the taxes. i typically lean more liberal, but i would agree with the flat tax code. if everyone paid the same tax and that's including corporations, that's including capital gains.
if everyone's paying the same tax, i would be ok with that because right now, upper kloss is getting away with it and we're carrying the burden. host: that's ron in endicott, new york. let's go to the other coast. and this is helen out in long beach, california. helen, what does it take to be middle class in long beach, california? caller: it takes a lot more money than most other places in the united states. i live in the los angeles area. where the cost of housing has probably tripled to what it is in most places in america. i'm also -- everything else seems to follow suit. you know, the cost of housing, e cost of utilities, food, clothing. erything -- housing is enormous. and everything seems to follow suit. i've lived all my life in california and i'm 62. when've seen such a change housing was affordable from the
1950's and 1960's and 1970's. anybody can come out here and just put down a few month's worth of income as a down payment and then you can have a house, a family. one person working. it has changed so much. they were the working class. back then, the working class probably had a better, more secure lifestyle than the upper middle class does today in this area. it takes over $100,000 a year to be comfortable and to live in a neighborhood where you felt relatively safe and have some comfort and to afford health care, to afford some amenities in life like maybe traveling, a car. and i'm not an ost containous person but i do make over $100,000 a year. but money -- it's the housing. and maybe taxes too. 9% know, we pay, i think 8%,
lifestyle will be of less quality than my apartments' working class lifestyle. it will be harder. host: is there a policy in your view that could assist "the middle"? caller: yes, let's uncreate the artificial housing shortage. let's put a cap on rent let's make housing affordable again. let's stop building these mini ansions that require about $1348 to purchase. my grandparents purchased a home in lakewood for $15,000 in the 1950's. they are no different than they were then. they are now selling for half a million dollars. his has been -- at the span of 65 years and they've gone from $15,000 to half a million. i think housing is one of the big factors that none of these politicians are addressing, that
this is where most of the income is going into. it's been drained off into mortgages. it's been drained off into wall street. host: helen, thank you for your time this morning. kathy is another californian in brownsville, california. hi, kathy. caller: good morning. thank you for taking my call. i really appreciate c-span. i've kind of made a list so i can remember everything if that's ok with you. i'll turn 70 this year. i'm living on medicare. i make about $14,000 a year. my medicare's only about $900 a month. and then i had the blessing of purchasing a rental home. and so i have that. and that give it me a little extra income.
i don't charge very much for rent. it's crazy. the main thing is health care. host: ok. when you say it's the main thing, what do you mean? 800 -- that i only get $ i think it's between $800 and 900. i can't remember when my ren tal care is. host: does that including social security? caller: that includes my social security. host: ok. caller: so i get $800 or $900 and i get $435 rent. host: back when you were younger than you are now, did you feel that you were in "the middle"? caller: oh, certainly. i was a single working mother
with two children. and every time i ever earned went to living. there was no putting something away or buying stocks or just -- it's simply wasn't in my reality. it just wasn't part of my life. so i work and i work and i work and then i finally retired. and now, i'm going for health care and the state of california, i apply for the medicaid, which is medical in california. they say my living allotment is $600 a month and my share of ost to get any help is $600. $600 a ho could live on
month? but that's what they allow you in the state of california. and i'm wondering what obama care and i love president obama. i'm real fan. i voted for him twice. but i'm wondering what obama care is doing for me because they're going to allow me $600 a month to live on. and the other $600 has to go to . share of cost for medical host: all right. kathy in brownsville, california, with her questions. road, -- ronald, from new york. what's it like for you in the middle class? caller: hello. i myself consider myself a middle class. i make a -- host: now, ronald, you got to
turn down your tv. don't look a. your tv. just talk on the phone. we'll listen to you. just go ahead and talk. caller: i think myself as middle class. i make around $48,000 in retirement. so i do pretty good. but i want to make a comment about in the housing era where we're at. i'm in a 1250-foot house in texas. here it's around $5,000 a year. it's for coal and local taxes where it used to be $150 for each one. but that's changed since they taxed for the roads and stuff here. she made my mother, minimum wage and my dad was blind but he was lucky enough to have a job for $20 a week but they got killed in 1947.
but anyway, we were in the depression until my mother died which was only 2012. she was over 100. we lived good and was happy and all that. but now, with all the taxes that you pay and the demands on us, i think it drives you into a sense of being poor all the time even though i make a lot of money put they spend it on things like tv, computers and all that. and it just hurts the common person. that's all i wanted to say. host: that's ronald in new york. thank you, sir. a couple of comments on twitter responding to the long beach, california, woman who called in. dana says hate to say it, caller, but this is a pure california housing problem. and wild and wonderful tweets in. you're in california, caller. contractors can't afford to
build affordable housing with all of the impact fees, etc., imposed on them. up next is ralph right here in washington, d.c. ralph, do you consider yourself to be middle class? caller: yeah. i'm pretty much retired now. the reason why i'm very interested in this conversation is i do a lot of reading. i'm an investor. and there's couple of things that i think people just are not aware of. inflation rate has been tweaked by the federal government because they don't want to pay social security and other inflatable items. if you calculationed inflation the 1980's standards, we're 9%. in 19. 0, we're about 6%. but somehow, they are telling us the inflation is 1% and yet our housing is going crazy. and so our government is reduced interest from effectively to negative. and that's driving up the housing costs. and the other thing that's been
going on is they've reduced the taxes on the wealthy so much as trump says, and i'm not a great trump fan, but as trump says,'s got wealthy friends that don't pay any taxes at all. you have johnson & johnson saying i've been hiding my money in shell companies and i don't pay any taxes. you have romney, he made $44 million and he paid 14% taxes. they claimed residency in states that don't pay any taxes. 90% of the wealth, what does that leave for the rest of us guys? they call it the trickled-down effect and i think of myself as a peon. it's a very bad joke but it's a very bad yolk joke on this country. thank you. host: that's ralph in washington, d.c. now the presidential candidate talking about the middle class, hillary clinton.
hillary clinton: we still haven't recovered from the great recession which wiped out jobs, homes and savings. sterday i met a man named bo in west virginia. he was a maintenance planner and a a mining operation in mingo count him lost his job last fall. he showed me a picture of his three beautiful little children, a son and two daughters. and said he was trying to keep on a brave face for them so they wouldn't know how worried he and his wife are. west virginians are proud people, bo says. we take pride in our faith and god, we take pride if our family. and we take pride if our jobs. we take pride in the fact that we're hard workers. so why, he asked, aren't there more programs in place already to help people like him? why isn't there more help to
turn to? how are we going to get new jobs there, not years from now, but right now? i'll bet everybody in here knows somebody in the same boat. and bo was really closer he's a republican. he is not voting for me. [laughter] but i really don't care about that. we need to do better for bo and his family and families like him across appalachian state and america and that means -- [applause] and that means coming together, making a real plan to invest in the foundations of a strong middle class, namely good jobs. and quality education for our kids. and a level playing field for american workers. host: next call is tom in woodbridge, virginia, right here
in the washington suburbs. tomorrow, what's life like in the middle class in the washington, d.c. area? caller: i would say that it's probably, we probably done better in the washington, d.c. area because of our connections, close connections to the first of all government. i yself hamill their, but -- myself is military and being middle class is not something that's universally -- it's not universally equal throughout the united states because somebody who's middle class in say tennessee where the cost of living is x only may require an income of say $45,000 a year to be considered middle class. whereas in washington, d.c., you got to have an income of about $150,000 to be considered middle class and have the exact same quality of life, standard of life, you know, availability of leisure, however you want to
look at it in this area. so my overall comment regarding like the minimum wage will just help things. the minimum wage, there shouldn't be a federal minimum wage in the sense that if i make the minimum wage in tennessee is $15 an hour, i'm more than likely going to shut down every small business in tennessee because the cost of living can not support a $15 an hour minimum wage. now in new york, a tennessee gas station handles five customers a day whereas a food service person in new york may handle a how to -- thousand customers a day for the same $15. so i think these same conversations, it's lost in the sense that things are not the same across the country.
it's different in every city and every state. host: you mentioned that you were in the military. are you active duty? caller: i am. host: what rank? caller: i'm a warrant officer. host: what's your salary range? caller: i've been in almost 30 years. so my salary rate is not -- the warrant officer court is about 1% of the entire military which is only about 1% of the entire population of the united states. would a really small -- i not be a good case study because i've been in for 30 years. i am a tech kl expert in my field. i've made a commitment in my life, essentially. host: do you make over six figures? caller: no, no, no. host: ok. caller: and only when you get up into the very high officer ranks , generals, extremely, you know,
colonels, the officers are -- they get into that range. host: so you have the added benefits of health care and things like that. correct? caller: yes. yes, i do. host: and retirement income? caller: well, that retirement income is very different than like the regular civilians get in retirement. because i won't see retirement until i'm out of the military and you don't get that. you can serve 19 1/2 years in the military and if you get out, you get nothing. zero. host: right. caller: but if you serve 20 years, you get only 50% of what your pay was. you don't get 100% of your pay for the rest of your life which is again, sort of a misnomer within the community. they think that seeing an active tout retirement, you know, it could be a lot of money.
my father's a retiree from the army reserve. he only gets like $500 a month. and he serves 20 years. host: tom, do you -- as a member of the middle class, do you feel economically secure? do you think there should be policy changes, etc.? caller: that's a really broad question. i think that the policy questions that we should be making though are about building our infrastructure. and i do not mean our roads and bridges. i think we should be investing now in the children that are 10 years old that are going to be going into high school in a few years so that we give people the tools to be -- to move beyond, you know, the aspiration of taking a minimum wage. i literally -- i was only ever worked in minimum wage when i was in college. the rest of the time, even my first job as a security guard,
you know, i was making, you know, $10 an hour when everybody else was making $7 because i had a proficiency. i had been trained in doing something that a smaller percentage of the population could do even it's something as little as a a security guard. so it's about our investment in our human capital as individuals that provide us the individual opportunities to not be held down to a minimum wage. host: all right. tom, we're going to leave it there and we're going to move on to fay in alabama. hi, fay. caller: hey. host: when is middle class in alabama? caller: in alabama, middle class is really dropped a lot lower. we have so many u.s. steelworkers that have lost their jobs and mine workers. there's thousands of mine workers and steelworkers that have lost their jobs. my husband is a united mine
orker and in alabama, they signed in a energy to at least say -- save the retiree's benefits and he had to take a $23,000 a year pay cut. he has worked in the mines for 38 years. host: now, fay, tell us about yourself. are you middle class? caller: right now, i would consider us middle class, but right now, we are right now at this point are going to be better with him retiring. they wanted to wait until 62 to retire. but he can't now. the mines is doing their body wrong. and hillary clinton's comments that was bad. host: so what would you like to see done, fay? caller: you know, at least the
congress that represent us in alabama would not sign the a act. these miners, my grandfather was a miner. he and, you know, the representatives from alabama, these coal mines provided coal and a lot of stuff. host: faye, in alabama. if you are interested in politics and one to listen to the chair of the republican national committee talk with o,ke allen on politic that conversation is live on