EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

October 28, 2012

Middle class is being squeezed in an economic vise

Call it the Middle Class Squeeze of 2012.

“The rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer, and everyone in the middle is getting squeezed,” said Brent Farrington, 30, of Haverhill, as he filled his gas tank at Haffner’s on Route 125 in North Andover this week. “Wow, that’s a lot,” he added, as his tank filled up and the final price rang up on the pump.

Farrington, who said he considers himself a “lucky” member of the middle class because he has a good job, said that for most people, the cost of the necessities of life, like gasoline and food, keep going up while wages are leveling off or going down.

He, and many others, sees next month’s election as critical to them, and the country’s future.

“What they do does affect me,” he said, referring to the president and Congress, adding that he supports President Obama’s plan to tax the rich and stimulate the economy using federal money.

Mariann Vetere, 55, of Andover, has a different view.

“If something doesn’t change, we’ll go bankrupt,” she said, while shopping recently at Market Basket in North Andover. “There’s too much pressure on the middle class to pay for everyone else’s needs.”

Her husband’s business — an architectural design firm based in Reading — has shrunk from 15 to five employees, with skyrocketing costs for employee health insurance, as required by federal health care guidelines.

“If they (the country’s leaders) don’t help small businesses, the economy is in a lot of trouble,” she said, adding that she supports Mitt Romney’s plan to reduce business tax rates and get rid of Obamacare, which she said is strangling small businesses like her husband’s.

Experts agree with both of them.

Throughout the election, Obama and Romney have repeatedly mentioned the middle class, and their concern for it. Obama has called himself a “warrior for the middle class.” Romney has said tax cuts on small businesses amount to a tax cut for the middle class.

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