(Cross-posted on The Other McCain)
Writing at National Review’s The Corner (h/t Instapundit) Patrick Brennan chides Senator Elizabeth Warren (D – Mass.) for declining, in a recent televised interview, to explain her definition of “middle class.” Even when asked specifically, “what numbers are we talking about, in terms of income level,” Warren declined to get specific — except to disagree with the reporter’s statement (at 1:00 of the linked video) that surely someone making a million dollars a year is not in the “middle class.”
Perhaps Mr. Brennan should have done a little homework before criticizing the soon-to-be senior Senator from Massachusetts. Warren has been on record for more than a decade that the “middle class” extends all the way up to highly successful lawyers, doctors, and other professionals — even up to high-tech millionaires. One must keep in mind that, as Warren herself confessed, she “created much of the intellectual foundation” for Occupy Wall Street. To her, “middle class” is just another term for “the 99 percent” — the base of support that Warren and her fellow occupiers rely on in their class war against the ultra-rich evil “1 percent.”
Don’t believe me — believe what Warren herself wrote in two books describing the problems of the “middle class”: 2000′s The Forgotten Middle Class (PDF excerpts here), and 2003′s The Two-Income Trap (PDF excerpts here).
On page 1 of her 2000 book, Warren and her two co-authors state that they have written the book about, and on behalf of: “Stolid middle-class people, such as ourselves” (emphasis added). Recall that in 2000, as in 2012 before she was elected to the Senate, Warren was part of a household earning easily $500,000 annually, and probably substantially above that. She and her husband, Bruce Mann, were both full-time Ivy League law school professors, and Warren made substantial sums consulting for corporations on the side, charging $675 an hour. So right off Warren alerts readers that her definition of “middle class” includes households comprising two lawyers each earning substantial six-figure salaries. For example, Warren’s salary alone (not counting the six-figure amounts she earned from other sources) for her last year of teaching at Harvard was $429,000,
But later on page 1 of her 2000 book, Warren makes clear that households such as hers are hardly at the top of the “middle class.” She speaks of the “many molders of opinion” for whom “the notion that the middle class could be in crisis is remote, even unrealistic. Their part of the middle class is thriving, and they point proudly to the growing ranks of young high-tech millionaires as signs of the success of the great American economic engine.” (Emphasis added) That high-tech millionaires are part of the “middle class,” as defined by Warren, is consistent with Warren’s statement to MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell in January, 2012, that she does not regard herself as a “wealthy individual” — wealthy individuals (aka “the 1 percent,” though she did not use the term), are those who do not work for their money, but instead “have a lot of stock portfolios.”
Further confirmation that the “middle class” includes highly successful professionals such as Warren and her husband is found on page 6 of Warren’s 2000 book:
The middle class is, of course, a huge portion of the American population. . . . The debtors in our sample include accountants and computer engineers, doctors and dentists, clerks and executives, salesclerks and librarians, teachers and entrepreneurs. They are middle-class folks . . . .
Finally, page 7 of Warren’s 2003 book further confirms the breadth of her definition of “middle class,” indicating it extends nearly all the way to the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder, to include everyone who has gone to college, or owned a home, or “held a good job.” Using this expansive definition, Warren reports “more than 90 percent of those in bankruptcy” are “middle class.”
So to sum up, Senator Elizabeth Warren, the intellectual godmother of the Occupy movement, has long been on record that when she uses the term “middle class,” her rough meaning is “the 99 percent,” excluding only the dreaded “1 percent” — the ultra-rich evil Americans who don’t work for a living but instead sit around enjoying their stock portfolios and exploiting the hard-working “middle class.” What else is there for her to explain?