What is the middle class willing to give up in order to save the country?
I am afraid that the answer will be: Not very much.
Politicians in both parties (and many of my colleagues at this magazine) speak constantly of defending the interests of the middle class, but it is precisely the middle class that will have to see higher taxes or lower benefits or both if the country is to remain solvent. We could tax the rich at 100 percent and still fail to balance the budget, and the Bush tax cuts for the $200,000-and-up set are dwarfed by the Bush tax cuts for the middle class. Meanwhile, more than two-thirds of federal transfer payments go to the non-poor, mainly to the middle class. It is the middle class, not the wealthy, that enjoys relatively light taxation.
Some generations have to storm Normandy, some have to give up tax-code housing welfare for relatively well-off homeowners.