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Signs That The Middle Class Is Heading Towards Extinction 

* 1 You don't have to ask major U.S. corporations if the middle class is dying. This fact is showing up plain as day in their sales numbers.

* 2 Some of the largest retailers in the United States that once thrived by serving the middle class are now steadily dying. Sears and J.C. Penney are both on the verge of bankruptcy, and now we have learned that Radio Shack may be shutting down another 500 stores this year.

* 3 Real disposable income in the United States just experienced the largest year over year drop that we have seen since 1974.

* 4 Median household income in the United States has fallen for five years in a row.

* 5 The rate of homeownership in the United States has fallen for eight years in a row.

* 6 In 2008, 53% of all Americans considered themselves to be "middle class". In 2014, only 44% of all Americans consider themselves to be "middle class".

* 7 In 2008, 25% of all Americans in the 18 to 29-year-old age bracket considered themselves to be "lower class". In 2014, an astounding 49% of them do.

* 8 Incredibly, 56% of all Americans now have "subprime credit".

* 9 Total consumer credit has risen by a whopping 22% over the past three years.

* 10 The average credit card debt in the United States is $15,279.

* 11 The average student loan debt in the United States is $32,250.

* 12 The average mortgage debt in the United States is $149,925.

* 13 Overall, U.S. consumers are $11,360,000,000,000 in debt.

* 14 The U.S. national debt is currently sitting at $17,281,222,665,378.63, and it is being reported that is has grown by $6.666 trillion during the Obama years so far. Most of the burden of servicing that debt is going to fall on the middle class (if the middle class is able to survive that long).

* 15 According to the Congressional Budget Office, interest payments on the national debt will nearly quadruple over the next ten years.

* 16 Back in 1999, 64.1% of all Americans were covered by employment-based health insurance. Today, only 54.9% of all Americans are covered by employment-based health insurance.

* 17 More Americans than ever find themselves forced to turn to the government for help with health care. At this point, 82.4 million Americans live in a home where at least one person is enrolled in the Medicaid program.

* 18 There are 46.5 million Americans that are living in poverty, and the poverty rate in America has been at 15% or above for 3 consecutive years. That is the first time that has happened since 1965.

* 19 While Barack Obama has been in the White House, the number of Americans on food stamps has gone from 32 million to 47 million.

* 20 While Barack Obama has been in the White House, the percentage of working age Americans that are actually working has declined from 60.6% to 58.6%.

* 21 While Barack Obama has been in the White House, the average duration of unemployment in the United States has risen from 19.8 weeks to 37.1 weeks.

* 22 Middle-wage jobs accounted for 60% of the jobs lost during the last recession, but they have accounted for only 22% of the jobs created since then.

* 23 It is hard to believe, but an astounding 53% of all American workers make less than $30,000 a year in wages.

* 24 Approximately one out of every four part-time workers in America is living below the poverty line.

* 25 According to the most recent numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau, an all-time record 49.2% of all Americans are receiving benefits from at least one government program each month.

* 26 The U.S. government has spent an astounding 3.7 trillion dollars on welfare programs over the past five years.

* 27 Only 35% of all Americans say that they are better off financially than they were a year ago.

* 28 Only 19% of all Americans believe that the job market is better than it was a year ago.
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Why all the Obama bashing? It would have made more sense to say "since the GFC...", because that's the real story; financial meltdown (inherited by the current administration) plus anaemic jobless recovery.
I can not see how our world monetary system can survive. The chickens are coming home.
I see Obama like Steve Ballmer... Nice guy but not the right leader.
all arguments for increasing minimum wage
One needs to define middle class more clearly. Middle class is certainly not the average, or typical American. I would argue that it is the working class that is disappearing due to the extinction of well-paying factory jobs.
i guess I missed your sources?  are they available some where that can be downloaded? Always best to allow your readers to read the primary source for the quote or comment.
End of day.  We are not going in the right direction on so many fronts that it's impossible to see this improving anytime soon.  Without a healthy middle class we are toast.  We should have let the markets correct themselves and not done the magical QE paper scheme.  It resulted in nothing more than a big money grab on Wall Street, masked a failing economy, and citizens will be left holding the bag AGAIN.
I am not a fan of Obama at all.  However, it debases a very compelling argument when you hang the blame on the current guy, when decades long bad leadership (both republicans and democrats) is to blame.  I honestly don't think any genius could have stopped the global financial crisis that late in the game.  We should have had better controls in the first place.  Its like blaming a firefighter for a home burning down, when the fire was lit (either intentionally or out of ignorance) by the homeowners. We (and i am to blame here too) the middle class voted in the "policy leaders" that created this mess.
40 years ago Americans were ashamed if they didn't have a job.  Now days our county is a welfare society.  The system is manipulated by the welfare recipients so they can quit work, have another child and draw welfare and health care.  Stop giving away our county's future to lazy people that don't want to earn their keep.  Welfare should be reformed to make people earn their assistance.
+Emlyn O'Regan why is it always Obama bashing when the truth is spoken.  Yes, he inherited a mess, that was partly his own party's fault after they took control of congress towards Bush's end of term, especially, the housing disaster.  Let's put the blame where it belongs, because reality has been staring us all in the face long enough.  I voted for Obama in 2008, and then I pulled my head out of my butt and became an informed voter, opened my mind and stopped listening to the "left" constantly bash the right.  Both parties are at fault, but you didn't hear Reagan come in and blame Carter for his entire term - and we have 3 more years of Obama to listen to him blame, yet again.  Hell, the other day he was blaming Fox news for the supposed phony scandals.  Seriously?  This post is spot on and what most of us in the middle class who were once Independents and listened to the "Hope and Change" nonsense, and believed things would change, and they have only gotten worse.  Yes, I blame this president, his policies, his regulations (that are massive), his blatant lies, especially where healthcare is concerned as I lose my great coverage I've had for 12 years (thank you), because they think they know better than I do?  And, the left wants to talk about a war on women?  Guess who's providing that war?  The left.  Coming from "that" side and moving to the center, becoming a Libertarian, because I believe in the Constitution (something they all ignore - at least about 90% of them, including the abuser of the law in chief), and freedom.  If you think this president is not purposely destroying the middle class with his policies (and by the way, the only ones making more money and are wealthier are his cronies - i.e., it's called crony capitalism).  It's time for the rest of America, if you're paying taxes and are tired of your hard-earned money paying for the overbloated government out of control spending, to wake up.  Good grief.  
+Dennis Godar Okay, increase the minimum wage and then costs on everything we buy go up - then what?  How about the government get the hell out of the way and allow "real" free market principles to make that determination.  The only crooks and cronies are the politicians buddies - on both sides.  So, the argument for minimum wage, will do nothing but make it to where consumers, you and I, pay more for everything because the more you stifle a business and tax them, the more they make the consumer pay.  If you're okay with a $10 hamburger because they have to jack up the price to pay for the $15 employee (and most states have a high min wage already), then go ahead.  I for one, call BS on it.
7 Trillion added to the debt under this administration alone.  7 Trillion.  People can try and blame that away, define it with typical talking points and argue semantics all they want, 7 Trillion.  I remember when this president said it was "unpatriotic" for Bush to add 4 Trillion to the deficit.  But for him and this out of control government, it's somehow, okay.  Wrap your head around that, anyone who supports this fraud.
The only income inequality, Howard Ellis, is the result of a bloated government that picks it's winners (their cronies) and losers (everyone else, the middle class and poor).  It's nothing but crony capitalism, nothing more, nothing less.  The day they get rid of special interests for both parties and lobbyists, maybe the middle class and poor will finally have a fair shot - then start taking care of our OWN rather than other countries where our tax dollars end up in the hands of the corrupt government of "those" countries.  
Hey Uber Knucklehead - Obama inherited a mess.  All these things have gotten worse since you've been blogging, I guess we can blame it on you also.  (You are no more at fault than Obama).  Unfunded, un-necessary wars, a Byzantine tax code that swamps what remains of the middle class and rampant plutocracy are more to blame.
Hey Ed Magowan, you do realize that Obama has in fact launched wars in Libya, Syria, Yemen, Pakistan and up to 35 African nations, right?  Never mind the appeasement, politically correct ROEs where we have lost more military men and women under his watch?  Never mind the drone strikes in these countries?  Can you say, warmonger like Bush on steroids?  Never mind the green stimulus that was a complete bust - just more of our tax dollars to "winners" that really didn't win.  We lose.  So, how many years do we keep blaming everyone else for Obama's disaster of recovery?
Bureaucrats are killing this country. Nobody elected them, they answer to no one, yet they are ruling and reigning like oppressive dictators crushing anyone they choose. Oh, yes, I forgot. Obama is one of the chief supporters of that. But...try running a hairsbreadth afoul of a medical license board. They operate like the Antichrist with no due process. If they blackball you, now with the Internet you cannot buy or sell in your "craft" anywhere in the world. When I say NO due process, I mean it. They operate based on lies, and that is fine with them.
you don't know basic economics,
with more spending power, the people that make minimum wages have a chance to climb back to middle class.  The economy grows when more people have money to spend locally, less dependence on government programs etc.
Cost wont go up much; people will gladly pay a little more for things they can afford with pay increases.
Do you know that current minimum wage is lower than1974 minimum wage? which was 1.80 per hour which adjusted for inflation would be ...8.74 in todays dollars.
Oh...Did you hear the one about the cold? It was so cold, the politicians started putting their hands in their OWN pockets!
+Dennis Godar Ever heard of Martin Armstrong?  Tell him that answer and let me know what he says...I'll wait...
And if you think anyone is getting a "pay" increase in this economy, while more are losing jobs (I'll tell you more stories if you care to listen personally), you might be living in utopia.  
The economy grows when the government isn't digitizing 85B a month and pumping it into the system, and allows true capitalism and the free market to work, not crony capitalism.  That will not happen under this administration, or any progressive administration for that matter.  Even Clinton, and JFK (the last true somewhat classic liberal) understood this.  
I see Obama like Steve Ballmer... Nice guy but not the right leader.

So  Ken he is kinda like the guy that was before him?
It ain't over till the Fat Lady sings...oh...she just lost her job...sorry....
Sears and JCP bottom of the bottom? What's Walmart & KMart.  You are really out of touch pal.
+Emlyn O'Regan  I don't think this is necessarily Obama bushing, although he could have added that "since" the Republicans have been in control".   He is stating facts but that doesn't mean it is Obama's fault.  
Its either higher minimum wages for our citizens or more of poverty wages and illegal aliens, babe you cant have it both ways.
+Dennis Godar Dennis, not in this economy.  It will not work.  Not under this administration.  Most of us can barely afford the necessities now, the consumer is what drives the economy when government is 'out of the way.'  And it hasn't been for a LONG time.  ;-)
This is Martin Armstrong.  If you don't know him, read his bio and you let him know he's wrong about his opinion regarding the min wage.
"While Barack Obama has been in the White House"...So you blame the President? So this has nothing to do with any of the economic policies put in place over the last 30 years that have resulted in the decline of the middle class? Or the fact that this situation began BEFORE Obama became president? Or the fact that the U.S Government is full of corrupt bureaucrats that craft economic policy to favor the interests of themselves or the corporations that persuade them to do so?
Mark V
we're reaping the benefits of lies, greed, and selfishness - love it!...
Assuming this is all true, it is a national crisis.  But the only "solution" proposed by the Republicans is to cut spending and lower taxes.  It's not working as we lurch from crisis to crisis.    But one thing almost no one acknowledges, is there may not be a fix.   Yes, we can pump up the economy with more stimulus but this will not bring back middle class blue collar jobs from China and elsewhere.  
This is not a surprise. White collars class is naturally growing up on the shoulders of a blue collars. Today, when blue collars are about to extinct due to jobs outsourcing, white collars lost a ground and is stretching down.
Obama is a secondary (insult to the injury) 
+Timothy Parrish HIs point is, it has gotten worse.  As I said to someone else, I voted for him in 2008, and have converted and woken up since.  Yes, it has been corrupt for a long time, but he's perpetrated it on steroids.  Him and his corrupt administration!
Toby M.
Gotta love all the Obama butt kissers on here laser focused on who's to blame rather than what caused all of this.  If you do the latter, there's little evidence that O didn't do everything in his power to tube the country.  Explain 7 trillion in debt?  It's been five years plus...what, is he still trying to figure it out?  I thought he was so intelligent he was like an alien being from the future.  No, then the other excuse is that he's the poor retarded kid in the corner.  One or the other. 
When Bush came into office he inhereted a mild deflationary recession augmented by an investment bubble in tech stocks.  Both deflationary recessions and investment bubbles mean you have supply side saturation, which means supply side bias policies no longer have efficacy because the the economy cannot absorb any more supply.

The bubbles herald this: they occur because investors are finding it hard to gain good ROI on investments, simply because there is no demand, so when one sector does offer decent ROI, say a new technology field which brings with it its own latent demand, investors flood that sector creating the bubble. So Bushites had ample warning/signals that supply side bias policies were played and demand side bias policies were called for. The source of demand is wages - middle class wages. So Demand side bias policies mean shifting bargaining power and resources from the 1% to the 99% so that wages go up. What did Bush do? He recklessly pored the coals on supply side policies.

The Bush presidency was the perfect storm. We had supply side saturation as he was coming into office and we had an administration that could only see itself as helping the rich get richer at the expense of the middle class.

The total affect of Bush's policies was to shift over $10 trillion to the 1% over the course of a decade, (maybe $13 or $14 trillion but at least a rate of $1 trillion a year). To sustain demand Bush had us borrow cheap money from China and got people to remortgage and double mortgage their houses. When the credit limits ran out demand imploded, taking financial markets with them. It was basically a repeat of 1929. When Bush left office the economy was hemorrhaging 800,000 jobs a month. It took 2 months for Obama to reverse the rate of losses, but it took another year beyond that before the U.S. was adding jobs instead of losing them. We are living in the after math of that.

The mechanics of the Great Recession pretty much map to that analysis. New Keynesian economist claim that an adequate stimulus response to the 2008 collapse would have been $4 trillion over 4 years, reflecting the $1 trillion that the Bush policies had moved from the demand side per year over the course of the decade. In South Korea they implemented a stimulus equal to about 25% of the GNP over 4 years, and avoided recession. In the US that size stimulus would have been $4 trillion over 4 years.

The republicans and their supply side policies have reached the saturation level - they don't and can't work. Only demand side policies will work. Everybody knows that. Everybody. The republicans won't allow Democrats to implement any policies that will help the recovery because that undermines their image on economics even worse.  Clinton created over 20 million private sector jobs, Bush ZERO, the last thing the Repblicans want is for Obama to create another 20 million jobs - as it is, he is likely to have created 7 million, despite inhereting Bush's economic implosion at the point of its greatest intensity. Today, borrowing money for the government is still cheap, our infrastructure needs $3 trillion in improvements, and the Republicans only want austerity? We could be investing in the countries infrastructure, that creates jobs, restore the middle class, and pays for itself, but the Republicans only block consideration of such obvious policies. They are pinning the nation down as if the nation itself was their enemy. 

The question is whether future historical analysis will accept that the Bushites knew the consequences that were going to happen and did these policies anyway? You can't move $10 trillion from demand to supply and not expect it to effect demand. More likely, they hoped the deluge would occur in the next administration and thus discredit them. In hindsight the 2000 election looks more like a coup and a money and power grab.

The coup was to shift resources to the 1% to the extent that they gained overwhelming control of American politics. The evidence of this occurred last year when 90% wanted universal background checks to gun sales and the provision failed anyway. 

Now that the 1% control the politics and the resources, they are not going to let go.  They aren't going to let demand side bias policies get enacted.

That's not Obama's fault.  He tested his capacity with gun background checks and he was swatted down pretty easily despite 90% support for the measure. In retrospect, the ACA is a miracle because it is one policy that does shift some bargaining power to the 99%, though it remains to be seen whether or not this is too little or too late.

This country is based upon one governing principle: free contract. That means bargaining power is everything. What you earn (and own) is a function of that. The rich know that and they have successfully and systematically attacked the agencies of all other groups bargaining power : Unions for the working class; ACORN for the very poor; quality and cost of education for the aspiring middle class - these are just a few examples.

The coup de grace was the Bush Administration.  Look we as a people foolishly gave away our bargaining power to the 1% for decades: from Nixon to Reagan to Clinton to Bush. We blamed unions for our economic problems, despite the fact that other nations functioned fine with them: today only 7% of private sector workers are represented by unions, in all other 1st world countries its 32%. We threw that away every time we voted for Republicans and Blue Dog right wing Democrats. Those decades of foolishness won't be reversed easily or over night, and probably not without a presence out in the street. But we only have ourselves to blame. 
The Elite in this country wants everyone to kiss their dare you say you are a "job creator" when you have not created any jobs but have more money than you ever had. You use the congress to do your dirty work.....we know now.  Watch your back.
About 90% of these 'indicators' indicate something significantly other than "the middle class is going extinct".  For example, blaming a reduced middle class for the failing of horrendously run businesses like Sears, JC Penney and Radio Shack is ludicrous.  I also can't really say that I ever perceived them as a middle class shopping destination.
Thanks for the post, Ken.  Co-workers and I found it interesting.
Eris X
+B Kb
"Sears and J C Penny never served the middle class, those are bottom of the bottom retailers.  Creative accounting can make the national debt go away...."
Really? On what planet? They've been 'middle class' since I was a little girl.
+Heather Mac
Well said Heather Mac- thanks for getting your head out of your butt and looking at the facts- wish everyone else in America would before we are gone.
Show me a real leader and I'll show you a dead man. Nobody would be allowed to do what needs to be done and live.
No necessarily in order of priority:
1. Jail is 3 hots and a cot, full term. No visitation, mail, gym, or anything that costs the taxpayer money beyond keeping you off the street. This, I think, would actually be a deterrent to crime by making it unbearable to be locked up. Also, no more federal country club prisons. White collar, blue collar, same cell.
2. Raise minimum wage to at least near what the poverty line is.
3. Unions should be abandoned. No way should a train conductor make high 5 to six figures with a full pension. Unions are broken. Public sector pensions should be replaced by employee funded 401k just like the private sector.
4. Preventative, routine, basic healthcare should be free and Govt sponsored.
5. Complete rewriting of the US Tax Code. Simplify. No more $1000 per child tax credit.
6. No more corporate welfare

on and on...

ken: you forgot Compusa, Circuit city and the struggling BestBuy which is next...(Carlos, the Mexican, richest man in the world) after pumping $2 billion on Compusa got tired and wanted to get rid of it, Tigerdirect bought it for $30 millions).
This is the way I see the future:  Corporations/Skynet: the Tirane, the US will look like Venezuela today and Argentina will go the way of Somalia. 
GREAT list of where we are, and recent changes/trends ... but it leaves out longer term 'Why', and some possibilities for the future:  

WHY: (1) Worldwide production was mostly wiped out after WWII,  but USA was mostly intact (2) USA had EASY access to good oil from shallow on-shore wells up through the 1970's (production peaked).  Same with a variety of raw materials. (3) Since WWII, Europe & Japan & other have rebuilt manufacturing AND China, Mexico, Korea and others have become major manufacturing centers.  (4) Average size of a house in USA = 2X that of Germany and about 9X that of China - which means workers in those countries can earn less for their work, yet still be comfortable compared to their neighbors (because they need less to pay for the house itself, and continuing energy costs).  (5) Because USA did not remain competitive, huge numbers of manufacturing jobs have moved overseas.  

FUTURE:  The ONLY way to bring those back is be MORE productive and competitive.  Large number of women already in the work force and Work week longer than Europe, so overall WAGES probably need to DROP to be able to produce goods at prices competitive with rest of planet.  Also, EVERYTHING needs to be more energy efficient - like the German 'Passiv Haus' movement (up to 80% reduction in building energy consumption).

PRESCRIPTION for USA:  (1) People downsize their housing to match (compete with lower cost) Europe & China.  (2) 'Apollo Moon Shot' type national program to improve building energy efficiency to compete with Germany.  
I'm not a fan of anyone in government right now but have to say this:  when Halliburton makes nearly $40 billion (c'mon, that's the  low ball amount) off the war in Iraq  ... someone will chime in here with a "yes, but what was the profit margin?"; I think we can assume at least 3% or $1.2 billion ... it's impossible to lay all the credit (!) for the mess we're in at Obama's feet.  In so many 'analyses' of the terrible state of our economy, we rarely if ever hear about the role our perpetual wars have had in creating this mess.  Wars financed with loans, no less.  I was with you, Ken, until you started with the Obama lead-ins.  When 'analysts' do that, their objectivity goes out the window and anything they say after that is suspect.  Whatever your political leanings are, if you want to fool people into believing you don't have a political agenda (read:  if you want them to hear what you have to say and think you're objective) - then you either need to write in all the names that should be in the blame line, or leave all of them out.  There's so much blame to go around for the state of affairs in this nation that it would be impossible to write them all in.  For my part -- because this is only a comment, not an analysis or an analytical summary -- I don't think our 2nd Bush president is insightful enough to recognize the burden of blood and debt that lays at his feet.  Cheney is a war profiteer.  He doesn't care about that burden. Worse -- he has a lot of well-heeled company in that ircle of war profiteers who call themselves ... patriots. 
I read the Armstrong article, he also doesn't understand economics, and is a political radical. Now if you will excuse me I have jobs to do and paychecks to sign.
Eris X
+Tim Kane
Wow, That was awesome. Very succinct and clear. Thank you.
when all the highly educated people  have a plumbing problem , who do they turn to ? they call the highly paid plumber with a trade school education. the key to success is to have a useful skill!
To Tim Kane: Really brilliant analysis , Thanks.
Substitute - "While the obstructionist Tea Party Congress" for the "While the Obama..." points...
+J BR I've found your ideas are solid, and have something to complement them:
In a few words, my additions is: better pay and less of benefits.
You ruined the entire impact of this story with all the "while Obama has been in office" BS.  If both sides are to be honest, this problem was a ticking time bomb that was started in the early to mid-80's and has little to do overall with anything any person sitting in the Oval Office after 2006 had any control over.  Even Bush couldn't have rolled this up and stopped this in his last term -- not after doubling down on every mistake he could possibly make in his first -- two tax cuts, one during war time for the first time ever; two wars, both on the credit card.  Clinton pulling out the already decimated plug on the Glass-Steigel act an Bush using it to push his "ownership society" based on those changes in the law didn't do anything to help us either.  Neither party is clean of the detritus of this mess, but the latching on to the idea that Obama has anything to do with it at this point is another major failure on the people's part -- we're failing to be honest with ourselves about the root of the problem and if we're going to pretend that Obama is the root of the problem, we're not going to fix a damned thing in this country.
The issue is not middle class, but rather wealth inequality. Quite simply, the disparity is growing, and growing rapidly. The rich are too greedy. This may benefit the wealthy in the short term, but even they lose in the long term. For when lower income people make less money, they have less money to spend and less money to pay in taxes. Less money to buy products and services from the wealthy. 

It's not about red vs blue or left vs right. This problem has occurred in every administration over the past 35 years. And it ultimately will reach a point of critical mass where the people say that enough is enough. They are willing to accept that some people will be filthy stinking rich because they believe that they, themselves, may one day win the lottery, too. But when enough people cannot afford to feed themselves or their family, and they see the wealthy spending a full year's salary on a diamond-studded iPhone, they will rebel. And it isn't going to be pretty. 
Until we get the money out of politics nothing will ever change.  Real campaign finance reform is needed. A constitutional amendment or whatever it takes.  I believe something close to a revolution will have to happen to bring this about. I try to stay positive about the future but it's hard.
You missed the entire point of my comment.  Let me dumb it down for you -- while you verbalize NOW that it' a broader spectrum problem, your original post, the one post in the entire thread that everyone here will read, makes it appear you are adding too and feeds into the Obama-bashing crowd that is continuing to derail us from real solutions to real problems.  You didn't help the cause here. 
Yes, demand started dropping in the 1980's which is when the boomer generation reached its peak spending years. Boomers are spending less. Sport shopping is over. Boomers who spend go out to eat or take trips or have medical procdures, which is why "demand side" economics won't work. Supply side economics was typically associated with tax policy: reduce tax and those who have it will spend more. Trickle down doesn't make it in the current demographic mix. The other whammy to the working class has been automation and most recently robotics. They will have perfected a strawberry picking machine in a few years. 3D printing factories make shoes with a small staff, for example. The challenge is to find employsble skills for services people need: electricians, plumbers, writers, leaders, scientists and inventors, mechanics, doctors, nurses, medical technicians are some of the areas of job availability. I belie e that more employee ownership of businesses and farms through esop, profit sharing, or stock collectives will bring workers up the economic scale. Working from the bottom up locally rather than top down will involve more people.
This country wants to eliminate the middle class so the rich and the government can do whatever they want ;what is the lower class gonna do if the rich and government controls everything? Nothing day by day they take our rights away. 
* 29 When generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) are applied to the federal government, the true U.S. debt is over $85 trillion (the U.S. Treasury generates the GAAP report). 

In FY 2012, total federal government revenue was $2.44 trillion, spending was $3.53 trillion but the GAAP report shows that the national debt actually increased by $6.6 trillion for the year. 

Big government economists argue that national debt isn't a real issue. Their argument is that it doesn't matter so long as debt grows slower than the tax base. The problem is that the argument fails miserably when the GAAP is taken into consideration.  For FY 2012, the GAAP was 42% of U.S. GDP.  In total, our $85 trillion GAAP exceeds the FY 2012 GDP of the entire world by about $25 trillion.

So what is the solution? You have me there, nobody has a real solution. However, bracing for impact might not be a bad idea.
AMEN, there's no rich without the middle class
There are some structural concerns facing the middle class, but misleading numbers like this don't help.
Some  things to consider-
1. Housing- you might expect the rate of homeownership to fall for a while after it was artificially inflated for so long due to unqualified buyers who had no business getting loans being approved for mortgages (hence the sub prime disaster)
2. Radio Shack may not be a bellwether of the middle class. People just may be buying their headphones and iphone adapters at other retailers (e.g.convenience stores now stock small electronics; not to mention Best Buy and Amazon)
3. Sears and JC Penney  may not qualify as canaries in the coalmine for the middle class either. They  just might be poorly managed or positioned. Kohl's and Target are doing fine, and they don't exactly cater to the ultra rich.
4. Food stamp costs have increased in response to the economic tsunami that Obama inherited.  The 8 Bush years were a most destructive period toward the economic health of our middle class culminating (through a disatrous combination of among other things reckless deregulation leading to trillions in toxic debt,  big breaks for big oil, endless unfunded wars etc) in the global economic scorched earth  Bush handed to Obama. Bush handed him a Titanic just before the iceberg and Obama has managed to steer clear but still into choppy seas.
4. People may or may not "believe' they are in a certain class, but numbers are more accurate than perception. What we need are policies that encourage innovation, tax policies that are in line with historic norms (not with the uber rich paying a lower rate than a postman),
energy policies that give incentives to forward moving technologies (why did the Prius beat the Volt to market?)
Well there will always be rich and poor people that's just reality. Trying to legislate such things seems like communism to me. Let people strive for whatever is important to them, even if that is money. 
I literally hate the term "Middle Class."  We should be a class-less society and not be categorized into social-economical groups. JUST WAIT until a law is passed for a particular Class in this society - then it's too late. 
Which economic theory lead us down this road, liberalism or conservatism?

Perhaps it's the muddled, confused mix of both that is hurting us the most.  I dunno.

I know a lot of people will say for sure that it's one or the other, but in the end none of you have any idea.
Would this really have been different if the Conservatives leading the US?  I'm sure it was trending that way anyway.  
'conservatives leading'...oxymoronic
+Emlyn O'Regan Because little has been done by the current administration to correct these problems with the working and middle classes, but the corporations keep getting more hands outs, bail outs, and free passes. I don't think anyone here is blaming the president for what he inherited, but he hasn't done much to help rectify it. He is as much of a corporate-backed politician as any of the rest in our government, despite claiming otherwise. Next time we need a real choice for the left, not just far-right or center-right.
1) Why is this guy throwing Obama's name around as if his policies created this situation.  I'll be happy when enough time has passed that the bulk of American children can be taught that the destruction of the middle class stems predominantly and almost exclusively from policies put in place by the Reagan administration.

2) Sears, JC Penny and especially Radioshack are closing because they suck. Their products suck, their selection sucks, and their prices are insulting.  Any company that thinks they can exist at 1000% markup on cables in this day and age simply needs to go away.

Nice try Rutkowski, this shit may work on whipping ignorant old people into a hateful frenzy but you're just coming off like a typical conservative douchebag to anyone who has an accurate and honest perspective on what's transpired within the last 30-35 years... You keep singing your bullshit for now, the rest of us are just waiting for this sham called the two-party system to finally shit itself and die.
+Tim Kane Very long post. Very boring post. Basically FOS. A long and boring way to blame Bush for our current problems. All of the issues in this original post are spot on. Pres Obama has failed economically. 
If you believe in Big Government, it is in your best interests for as many voters as possible be uneducated, poor, and dependent upon the government.

If you believe in Small Government, it is in your best interests for as many voters as possible be well off, self-reliant, and not dependent upon the government.

It is as simple as that.
+Richard Hobson What's the difference? We are ultimately failing under a mixed system. Capitalism cannot operate under socialist or statist policies. Socialist and Communist regimes cannot function without a capitalist system in place. As goes America, economically speaking, so goes the world. 
World economics is little affected by which American party is in power.
+Ken Rutkowski I don't think many people could have weathered this storm as well as Obama has. The US should be absolutely devastated by the financial situation he inherited.

Somehow, we are still afloat, though. I think that history will show that Obama was a well above average president, who presided over a much tougher than average time.

Remember, the greatest presidents were all controversial in their day, although not all controversial presidents are great.
This has little to do with how our Government is ruling over us and more to do with how our government is being ruled over by fascist corporations. If you still believe the school house myth of America being a democracy and that we are in a Capitalist country, you are sadly due for an awakening. We live in a Plutocracy with privatized feudalism. It has nothing to do with big or small government. Obama or Bush. It is the system. Until older American's realize that their ignorance and laziness is the problem, the youth will suffer.
And "While Barack Obama has been in the White House," he's had to try to work with a Congress who has produced nothing but an record number of filibusters and has been deemed the worst Congress in US history.
In fairness, Obama is not solely responsible for the conditions we're going through in America.  Partially yes, having a huge influence yes, but not the only factor - not by a longshot.

Blame Responsibly. :)
I suppose is you say the middle is an annual income of between 30K-1million/year then the middle is alive and well. Then the poor is anyone who doesn't work or makes 30K or less and the rich make 1 million or more a year. Makes sense to me... no danger of the middle class going anywhere.
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