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For the week ahead of Tax Day 2011, Demos published daily writings, infographics, and illustrations that provided a fresh perspective on how we think about taxes.

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Budgeting For America's Middle Class: A Report Card Comparing Federal Budget Proposals

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The American middle class did not create itself in the 20th century. Rather, a post-war model of robust public investment in our nation’s people and institutions (despite high deficits) led to unprecedented shared prosperity. But if current trends continue, the middle class may not be recreated in the 21st century.

Average American families are losing jobs, benefits, income and wealth, and for the first time, the majority of Americans believe their children will not be better off than them. The debate over our fiscal future provides an opportunity to chart a new course, one that will reverse the decline of the middle class.

It is against this backdrop that Dēmos has measured the comparative effectiveness of five leading fiscal proposals. We evaluate the plans in eight categories: jobs and public investment; health care affordability; Social Security income; education; defense policy; fair and adequate revenues; and long-term debt reduction.

The highest-scoring plans prioritize immediate stimulus over deficit reduction in order to put millions of Americans back to work. They address the long- term debt problem by modernizing the revenue base and reducing unnecessary spending while investing in our future prosperity. For there are many ways to bring the federal budget into balance, but only a few proven ways to create a middle class.

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