Do We Care Too Much About the Middle Class?

Scott Winship says politicians should stop obsessing over the middle class and focus on the poor instead:

Whether politicians ignore the poor and pander to the middle class or scare the middle class into thinking they are as bad off as the poor, the result is likely to be the same. Most of our policies will continue to be mis-targeted, as analyses by the Pew Economic Mobility Project and CFED have demonstrated. In turn, they will explode the deficit, leaving less money to promote upward mobility among the poor. And those policies that take the form of tax breaks for investing in savings or education will further price the poor out of markets for mobility-promoting assets—whether higher education or homes—by subsidizing investment the non-poor would have made even without tax incentives. Think “mortgage interest deduction.”

I’m extremely sympathetic to this case and recommend Winship’s piece. That said, insofar as what “the middle class” really cares about is the state of the labor market, the productivity of the health care system, and the affordability of higher education then it seems to me that middle class concerns are in fact very legitimate areas of public policy focus.