Mitt Romney does not think middle class starts at $200,000 a year

Chris Wilson
September 14, 2012

In an interview that aired Friday morning, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney told "Good Morning America" that the definition of middle income in America is "$200,000 to $250,000 or less."

Romney's answer is a bit confusing, because 200,000 is included in the universe of numbers less than 250,000. If you take the statement at face value, however, it appears that Romney is using the same upper limit as President Barack Obama when it comes to middle-income earners. Obama's proposed tax hike for the richest Americans begins with taxable income over $250,000.

Because of Romney's wording, some interpreted the statement as saying the middle-income range begins at $200,000, touching off the usual hand-wringing over Romney being out of touch with the non-wealthy.

Early versions of an Associated Press article stated: "The Republican presidential nominee defined ['middle income'] as income of $200,000 to $250,000 a year," an assertion some newspapers put in the headline. A later version of the same article, however, include the "or less" wording. It is common for AP stories to be updated several times.

The median household income in the United States in 2011 was $50,054, down from inflation-adjusted figures of $54,489 in 2007 and nearly $55,000 in 1999.

The later version of the AP story also stated that the "campaign later clarified that Romney was referencing household income, not individual income," which appears to be irrelevant as the median figure is still about 25 percent of $200,000. And for most Americans, exactly where the upper limit is drawn is irrelevant so long as they're below it.