Here are some links from around the web that we’ve been talking about.

Fewer Americans identify as middle class in recent years

How does your income rank with the rest of the country? It doesn’t seem like that hard of a question to answer. If your income falls roughly within the average income of other Americans, you are middle class. Right?

But what if you don’t feel middle class?

A new Gallup poll found that more people identify lower on the economic scale than any time since it started collecting such data. Forty-eight percent of Americans consider themselves working or lower class, while 51 percent call themselves middle or upper-middle class.

Gallup has been conducting these kinds of polls since 2000 — though it has not done them every year. At one point, 63 percent of participants considered themselves middle class.

“This could suggest that Americans have shifted into a ‘new normal’ way of looking at their class standing, with the Great Recession having convinced a number of Americans that they are not now, nor are they going to be, middle class — but rather are firmly ensconced in either the working or lower class.”


Candidates fight over abortion, but public has surprising level of harmony

Even though abortion seems like an ideologically entrenched issue for which there can be resolution, there is actually plenty of common ground among voters.

Only 12 percent of Americans think abortion should never be legal, and 60 percent of Democrats and 30 percent of Republicans think it should always be legal, according to a 2012 study cited by the New York Times.

“There’s reason to believe this party gap might be misleading, however. It turns out that when you ask people about specific conditions — the details about abortion decisions — support for abortion erodes and party differences disappear, even among those who previously said abortion should be legal under all circumstances. And the opposite is true, too — in some cases, opposition fades and leniency is extended.”


Can states really boost growth by cutting top individual tax rates? Study says no.

As LePage continues to argue for altogether killing the state income tax, here’s a study to chew on.

Researchers looked at the historical effects of cutting state taxes and found … nothing.

Well kind of.

They did conclude that there’s no compelling evidence to support the idea that cutting the income tax will spur economic growth.

To put that in the language of tax policy nerds: “Our results are inconsistent with the view that cuts in top state income tax rates will automatically or necessarily generate growth.”

But that doesn’t mean cutting taxes would slow growth either, Howard Gleckman writes in Forbes.

“… from 1977-2001 (roughly the period Reed studied) high state tax revenues did slow firm formation. But when they looked out to 2006 or 2011, the effects largely disappeared.

When they looked at top marginal rates, the story was even more confusing. In some years, increases in these rates seemed to slow new business creation. In other years, start-ups increased even when rates rose.

The evidence for employment was just as shaky. High tax revenues do correlate to weak employment in most years, but barely. And the longer the time frame, the less important they seem. Raising marginal tax rates doesn’t matter either.”

Dan MacLeod

Dan MacLeod is the managing editor of the Bangor Daily News. He's an Orland native who moved to Portland in 2002 and now lives in Unity. He's been a journalist since 2008, and previously worked for the...