The strength of our economy can be measured by the strength of our middle class.
President Barack Obama 
Washington adores the middle class, and politicians seeking reelection are making a special effort to convey the middle class’s bedrock importance. The president began fighting for the middle class even before he assumed office:
As president, Obama will fight to modernize government policies to secure and expand the middle class. He will keep taxes low for middle class and low-income families while also making the necessary investments to grow the American economy. 
So important is the middle class that in January 2009 the president charged his second-in-command with overseeing the Middle Class Task Force. One year later, Vice President Biden assessed his performance, noting:
“We’ve spent the past year traveling the country talking about the economic challenges facing the middle class. As a result, the initiatives we lay out in this report offer specific solutions to improve the quality-of-life for middle class families everywhere.” 
As Mr. Biden points out, there is a lot of planning going on to improve the lives of middle-class Americans. Some progress has been made, as well. For example, in March 2010, the president signed the health care reform bill. Most of the bill’s provisions will not take effect until 2014, but that is no reason to refuse credit for helping the middle class:
Senator Chris Dodd remarked, “This is the most important bill to improve the economic security of our middle class in a generation. And none of us will ever cast a more important vote.” 
It will take even longer to implement the tax on high-cost health plans (“Cadillac Tax”), because organized labor won a stay on the tax until 2018. Other health care taxes and penalties will phase in beginning next year, and an absurdist tax on tanning salons is already in effect.
As of March 2010, we had committed $85 billion in TARP funds to salvage GM and Chrysler . The announcement that GM had repaid its handout was soured by charges that the funds were taken from escrowed TARP monies. Nevertheless, Democrats treated the auto industry bailout as a victory for the middle class, and both the president and vice-president went on self-congratulatory stumping tours:
Option two was to do nothing and, as I said, we would have lost another million jobs. But more importantly, we would have lost what has been the heart and soul of American manufacturing, what has built a middle class not just here in Detroit, but all throughout the Midwest, what has made us proud and has been a symbol of our economic power. 
Of course, there are always naysayers no matter how great the accomplishment, and questions were raised as to whether the money could have been better applied elsewhere:
By making such an unprecedented investment in Chrysler and GM the Administration by definition chose not to assist other Americans who are in need. With the economic suffering the American taxpayers have endured during the past two years one wonders why Chrysler and GM merited such generosity to the exclusion of other taxpayers. 
There were also questions as to whether the administration’s subservience to organized labor took precedence over the greater good:
In other words, why did the United States government spend tens of billions of dollars of taxpayer money to bailout employees and retirees of the UAW to the detriment of other non-UAW employees and retirees – such as retired school teachers and police officers from the State of Indiana– whose pension funds invested in Chrysler and GM indebtedness? 
In August 2010 we passed the Education Jobs and Medicaid Assistance Act of 2010, which committed $26 billion to save 312,000 public sector jobs, most of which are unionized. This was almost as much as the $30 billion dedicated just last week to bail out smaller, community banks. Rather than another unpopular bank bailout, the Small Business Jobs and Credit Act was sold as a mechanism to revitalize small business lending, and create jobs for the middle class, despite a mountain of evidence that the bill’s lending stimulus will not work.
As a final, hard kick to the middle class groin, Harry Reid announced that he will tack the DREAM Act onto a defense spending bill as early as this week. The Dream Act has lurked in the backwaters of the Democratic legislative agenda for years (see: Selling Out Our Dream), and opportunism fueled by midterm desperation has finally brought it to the forefront. There has been a great deal of controversy over whether the DREAM Act legislates in-state tuition rates for illegal immigrants. It does not. It gives states the opportunity to decide whether illegal immigrants deserve a better chance, and lower tuition rates, than the children of middle-class citizens, who will pay the taxes necessary to help send illegal immigrants to state schools.
In the penultimate election year hypocrisy, the Obama Administration is fighting to extend the Bush-era middle class tax cuts. White House rhetoric on GOP obstructionism has confused the issue, which is very simple and requires little explanation. Democrats will fight hard for the middle class, but only if it means punishing the wealthy. Besides, deep in his heart, the president knows who really merits his solicitude:
A good job that pays a good wage. Health care that will be there when you get sick. (Applause.) A secure retirement even if you’re not rich. (Applause.) An education that will give your children a better life than we had. (Applause.) These are simple ideas. These are American ideas. These are union ideas. That’s what we’re fighting for. (Applause.) 
Damn. All this time, we thought it was the middle class.
1..White House Annnounces Middle Class Task Force. Office of the Press Secretary. January 30, 2009.
2..Change.Gov. The Obama-Biden Plan. Undated.
3..Vice President Biden Issues Middle Task Force Annual Report. February 25, 2010.
4..Democrats.Senate.Gov. Senate Passes Health Care Reform: A Victory for the American People. December 24, 2009.
5..Congressional Budget Office. Report on the Troubled Asset Relief Program – March 2010. pp. 4-5.
6..The White House. Remarks by the President at the General Motors Hamtramck Auto Plant in Hamtramck, Michigan. July 30, 2010.
7..Congressional Oversight Panel. December Oversight Report. Taking Stock: What Has the Troubled Asset Relief Program Achieved? December 9, 2009. pp. 140-141.
8..Congressional Oversight Panel. December Oversight Report. Taking Stock: What Has the Troubled Asset Relief Program Achieved? December 9, 2009. pp. 140-141.
9..Remarks by the President at Laborfest in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Henry Maier Festival Park, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. September 6, 2010.