It takes less to be counted among the rich

February 17, 1993|By Los Angeles Times

Being rich, it seems, isn't what it used to be.

Once upon a time, wealth meant a lifestyle of leisure, luxury and protection from the hassles of everyday survival.

But these days, what it takes to qualify is a $100,000 household income, according to President Clinton. The figure set off alarm bells across America because the president previously cited $200,000 as the threshold for those who will pay much higher tax rates.

In any case, the president has focused a spotlight on the question of who is rich.

Those at the lower end of Mr. Clinton's elite hardly consider themselves wealthy, while those who take home far less have little doubt about who is rich.

A $100,000 income "sounds like he's talking about the rich -- but that amount is a drop in the bucket for the rich," observed Maurice Zeitlin, a professor of sociology at University of California, Los Angeles. "The rich pick up $100,000 in a week."

About 5.8 million households would cross the $100,000 threshold by 1994, the Congressional Budget Office says.

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