Middle Class And Cash Poor

Download Audio

Getting real about the depth of financial security in America’s middle class. We will go very up close and personal.


A sweep for Trump yesterday. Wins for Hillary Clinton. Bernie Sanders hangs in. But we’re going deeper, here. To get a beat on what’s driving the anger behind so much of our politics. My guest, famed writer Neal Gabler, puts his own finances on the table to show just how bad it can be for the middle class now. Forty-seven percent of Americans say they couldn’t come up with $400 in an emergency. He’s one of them. This hour, On Point: the depth of financial insecurity in America’s middle class now.
-Tom Ashbrook


Neal Gabler, writer, cultural historian, film critic. Visiting professor in the MFA Creative Writing and Literature Program at the State University of New York, Stony Brook.

Mechele Dickerson, Professor at the University of Texas School of Law, scholar on consumer debt. (@amdickerson)

From Tom's Reading List

The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans Living Paycheck to Paycheck — "I know what it is like to have to juggle creditors to make it through a week. I know what it is like to have to swallow my pride and constantly dun people to pay me so that I can pay others. I know what it is like to have liens slapped on me and to have my bank account levied by creditors. I know what it is like to be down to my last $5—literally—while I wait for a paycheck to arrive, and I know what it is like to subsist for days on a diet of eggs. I know what it is like to dread going to the mailbox, because there will always be new bills to pay but seldom a check with which to pay them." (The Atlantic)

What Is Driving America's Financial Woes? — "We reached out to some of the leading scholars of the American middle class to ask what they make of Gabler’s analysis. Their answers are below (we’re posting about one a day, a dozen total)." (The Atlantic)

What Americans say it takes to be middle class — "What does it take to be considered part of the middle class these days? The vast majority of American adults agree that a secure job and the ability to save money for the future are essential. The public is more evenly split when it comes to owning a home and having the time and money to travel for vacation. But one thing is now less likely to be seen as a requirement: a college education." (Pew)

This program aired on April 27, 2016.


More from On Point

Listen Live