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Merrimack Valley

October 28, 2012

Middle class is being squeezed in an economic vise


“You hear about the middle class,” he said. “It’s about small businesses. Shops with five to 20 people are driving this economy. I don’t view the middle class as a price range, it’s complicated, it’s people working for a living. It just call it ‘working people.’”

He said people are struggling at $150,000, particularly self-employed people, or those who own their own businesses. They pay a high tax burden, health care coverage for employees, disability insurance, life insurance and other costs.

He added that because they own their own homes and make a decent wage, they don’t qualify for many of the benefits that lower income people can take advantage of, such as college scholarship money.

Meanwhile, the wealthy people in this country don’t need the help, and in some cases are making more money than ever.

“It’s the ultimate squeeze,” he said.

A number of people interviewed for this story agreed with that sentiment.

Joyce McLaughlin, 62, of Methuen, said people making over $50,000 a year don’t get any benefits, while people making less than that get all kinds of help.

“They get food stamps and all that,” she said, while loading groceries into her daughter’s car at Market Basket earlier this week. Meanwhile, hard-working people like her daughter Jessica and son-in-law both have jobs while supporting two children.

“I’m a nurse, my husband’s a correctional officer, and we see people with full carts of free groceries ... while we have to pay for a few bags,” said Jessica McLaughlin, 29.

Gus Flanagan, 63, a retired Methuen police detective now living in Salem, N.H., said the middle class is “getting squeezed between the wealthy and everyone else.”

Shopping recently with his son at Mann Orchards in Methuen, Flanagan blamed Obama for giving away too many benefits to people, including illegal aliens, and not looking out for the middle class.

“The middle class gets squeezed by everyone but it will be a little better under Romney,” he said.

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