TheMiddleClass.org provides information and analysis on bills in Congress that have a significant impact (positive or negative) on America's middle class, as well as on the aspirations of low-income Americans who want to work their way into the middle class. It also enables voters to evaluate members of Congress based on their votes on these bills.
This effort started with the annual scorecards that the nonpartisan Drum Major Institute for Public Policy began publishing in 2003. In 2007 DMI launched TheMiddleClass.org to be a dynamic, continually updated site. In 2011, this site became a joint project of Voter Punch and the Campaign for America's Future.
While many organizations issue scorecards based on a single issue, TheMiddleClass.org is distinctive in its focus on an overall agenda of expanding opportunity for middle-class and aspiring middle-class Americans. We hope themiddleclass.org will be useful tool both for evaluating Congress and for pointing those concerned about the American middle class in the right direction on key pieces of legislation.
How It Works
For each bill, we begin with a brief description of the legislation, information about its status in the legislative process, and an analysis of its impact on the middle class. We also look beyond the bill to what more could be done to address the issues as stake. And we provide links to additional information and resources.
We also provide information on how each member of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives voted on the legislation. You can look at how every member voted on a particular bill, or how your own representative voted. You can search for legislation by issue area or keyword and look for legislators by name, state, or entering your zip code. And you can check out the grades we assign each member of Congress based on their votes. Click here for more on how our grading formula works.
Since we are also tallying legislators' votes on the bills, we look only at legislation that has received a roll call vote in at least one chamber of Congress. Notable bills that have not yet been voted on are briefly discussed in the "Pending Legislation" section.
What Is The Middle Class?
The middle class is more than an income bracket. Over the past 50 years, a middle-class standard of living in the United States has come to mean having a secure job; a safe and stable home; access to health care; retirement security; time off for vacation, illness and the birth or adoption of a child; opportunities to save for the future; and the ability to provide a good education, including a college education, for one's children. When these middle-class fundamentals are within the reach of most Americans, the nation is stronger economically, culturally and democratically.
Most Americans identify themselves as middle class. But we are also concerned about increasing the ability and opportunities poor people have to enter the middle class. The middle class is strengthened when more low-income people are able to work their way into its ranks. In a nation that is increasingly polarized between the very wealthy and everyone else, we see the poor and middle class as sharing many of the same interests. Simply put: what strengthens and expands the middle class is good for America.
TheMiddleClass.org is operated as a nonpartisan project and thus neither supports nor opposes any candidate for office. Rather, we believe better policy can be created when ordinary citizens - not just political insiders - know how their legislators voted on the issues that matter most to them, and when legislators know their constituents are watching.
A Word of Thanks
Generous contributions supporting both Voter Punch and Campaign for America’s Future have been made by Lawrence and Suzanne Hess. Lawrence & Suzanne Hess made a separate grant supporting Voter Punch’s ability to export data necessary to the functioning of TheMiddleClass.org. Their support is gratefully acknowledged by both organizations.