The reason the middle class is so important isn’t complicated:
• Businesses need middle-class customers. If you ask business owners what motivates them to make investments and create jobs, they’ll tell you its customers. From where do the majority of customers come? The middle class.
• The economy depends on the skills of the middle class. If you look to what has been at the root of economic growth over time, it has been growth in worker productivity and the inventiveness of our people. Who among us has had the flexibility to postpone jumping directly into the workforce after a minimum level of education and instead avail themselves of the opportunity to enhance skills by pursing higher education? The children of those securely in the middle class.
• Innovators, inventors, and entrepreneurs come from the middle class. Why is this so? Unlike those with lower incomes — who, by necessity, are consumed with issues of day-to-day survival — middle-class individuals have the time and capacity to come up with innovative new business ideas, to invest in them, and to develop and foster them. Moreover, scary though it may be, middle-class Americans can afford to take the risk of leaving a job to start a business. If you look at the fortunes of the Forbes 400, they were mostly started with a risk, an invention, or an investment by someone from the middle class.
• The middle class creates stability and investment in the economy. It’s also the middle class that has the biggest stake in seeing the U.S. economy succeed. The rich are largely immune from the success or failure of any particular country’s economy—the question for them is the extent of their wealth, not whether they are going to be able to live lives of comfort or whether they can afford to send their children to college. The rest of us, however, are very dependent on the success of our country’s economy. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t wealthy individuals who care deeply about the nation’s economic well-being, but middle-class voters are those who form the backbone of support for public investments in education, infrastructure, and the other building blocks of a strong economy.