Paul Ryan is a one percenter. His congressional salary is $174,000 and he has disclosed 2010 investment income between $168,000 and $1.2 million annually. (The range above is cooked onto the system for financial disclosures by congressmen and women.) Assuming an average return of 7 percent suggests something between $2.4 million and $17 million of investment assets for the Ryans.
Mr. Ryan's view of the economic challenges faced by middle class people is from a distance of dramatic proportion: Median household net worth in the United States in 2007 -- the year before the bottom fell out -- was $126,000. By definition, half of the households in the country had household net worth less than $126,000. At a 7 percent return, $126,000 would produce annual income of $8,820. And to repeat, half of U.S. households have smaller net wealth, and therefore smaller potential investment income than $8,820. Mr. and Mrs. Ryan enjoy between 19 and 136 times more household net wealth than the median Joe and Jane.
It is not class warfare to point these figures out. They suggest that without Social Security, half the households in the country have little hope of affording retirement. Ever. And don't even mention health insurance premiums.
Mr. Ryan should deal with these numbers. He should lay out retirement budgets for Americans in the lower 50 percent net worth population for this year, next year and through the years that our children will be facing these challenges. If he is unable to do this, my bet is the reason will be that he can't.
Alfred Y. Kirkland Jr.