The definition of the middle class varies depending on who you ask. Many financial professionals believe that the category middle class can actually be broken down in to 3 or 4 levels. So let’s take an estimate and assume that middle class America, on average, makes $32,500 and $60,000. This figure generally includes mostly college graduates.
This is what one financial site defines as the “middle middle class.” There is also an upper middle class and a lower one. The upper middle class can over $100,000 and the lower, $23,050 to $32,500.
Most Americans do fall in the middle of the middle class. It is estimated that about 51% fall in this category. 20% fall into upper class and about 29% in the lower class.
All of these numbers may not mean much until we look at the context. When a politician stands up and talks about changes that will impact the middle class, people pay attention. When they misuse the term in order to benefit people who don’t really need it, they are just being deceitful.
In addition, if a politician promises that the changes will be free, it is time to be fearful. Nothing is free; someone will pay for it if you don’t. Eventually, it becomes your turn to pay up for someone else. It is a vicious cycle.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo revived an issue that Bernie Sanders raised in the Presidential race, college tuition. Cuomo has decided the idea has merit. He announced on Tuesday that the state of New York will cover tuition costs at state colleges for hundreds of thousands of middle-and low-income state residents. Besides Sanders, Obama has voiced his support of these types of programs. It falls right in line with his attempt to swindle America.
Sounds great, right? Remember the above lessons: this type of program rarely comes without provisions.
First of all, Andrew Cuomo has not been paying attention to his financial advisers. The income requirements allow for individuals or families to be making up $125,000 and still qualify for this program. Giving a lot of leeway to the definition of middle class doesn’t really come close to justifying Cuomo’s interpretation.
That means that many students who wouldn’t normally qualify for state or federal grants could qualify for this program. If this is truly to benefit middle class, why extend it to include families who make so much?
Second, Cuomo has been unusually quiet when it comes to exactly where this program will get its funding. Teachers don’t work for free, buildings require maintenance, materials are necessary, all of these things cost money. If Cuomo doesn’t plan to bill students and their families then he has to get the money from somewhere else.
His estimates of what the program will cost the state are ridiculously low. $163 million simply is not realistic to cover the million residents of New York who would qualify, the increase in teachers that would be needed to accommodate the new students, or the new facilities that will undoubtedly be needed.
A 2015 report by the city’s Independent Budget Office put the cost for the city’s community colleges alone at $138 million to $232 million. Even that report takes a lot into consideration including assuming many students would only be part-time and that many students will receive other grants or loans.
Cuomo probably couldn’t explain why any student who would qualify for his program would apply for loans. He has even stated that this program gives people a chance to get a degree without the financial burden. The two ends don’t meet in the middle.
Even an Assemblywoman expressed doubt. “The cost estimate of $163 million begs the question: If it costs so little, why haven’t we done it before?” Deborah J. Glick is the chairwoman of the New York Assembly’s Higher Education Committee.
Cuomo is relying heavily on the support of Bernie Sanders to push his program along. Sanders was there with Cuomo when he unveiled the idea. Sanders, who called the idea “revolutionary,” stated “That is a message that is going to provide hope and optimism for working-class families all across the state.”
Tennessee and Oregon already have programs in place to cover the costs of community college for their state residents. Cuomo plans to go far beyond that, including four-year schools. President Obama has previously suggested that states should do this. Cuomo’s program would cover dozens of campuses that are part of the state university system, as well as the city’s university system.
This is not even the first time that New York has tried this. City College of New York (CUNY) was established in 1847 as the Free Academy of New York to educate “the children of the whole people.” It remained tuition free until 1976. Since then, tuition has gone up, reputation has gone down, and the college is in danger of losing accreditation.
Cuomo doesn’t seem interested in learning from history. New York boasts some of the lowest tuition rates; Current full-time tuition at four-year State University of New York schools for residents is $6,470; at two-year community colleges, the cost is $4,350. Full-time costs for City University of New York schools are about the same.
The state also already provides nearly $1 billion in support through its tuition assistance program, which has an adjusted gross income limit of just under $100,000. Those awards top out at $5,165; many grants are smaller.
Which brings the question back to, who is paying the check for all these people to attend college? Even with all that Cuomo had to say about this program, he failed to provide the answer. Using common sense, the money comes from taxpayers.
New York currently has a state income tax rate of 6.05% and a sales tax rate of 4%. These are relatively low but residents should expect a steep increase to finance Cuomo’s project. Residents of other states may be affected to. Sanders said, “Here’s my prediction,” the senator said. “If New York State does it this year, mark my words, state after state will follow.” Wherever Obama is at the time, rest assured he will be involved.
Democrats often accuse Republicans of discriminating against middle and lower classes. They stereotype many conservatives as old, rich, white men.
The liberals are the one discriminating here. Allowing citizens with more than adequate incomes to access the program and the necessity of inflicting higher tax rates on everyone ends up benefiting very few.