Democrats still trying to figure out who "the rich" are

Obama and his fellow Democrats for years have described the wealthy as couples making more than $250,000 and individuals making more than $200,000 — 3% of U.S. households. By shifting away from that number in hopes of benefiting from the sound-bite punch of a millionaires tax, the administration may find it difficult to return to casting the broader net…

The shift marked a victory for Democrats from parts of the country where the cost of living is high. Families earning $250,000 in their regions, lawmakers argued, look more like middle-class, dual-income worker bees than tony yacht owners.

“They are not rich,” said Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), a leading proponent of the tax on wealthier people. “In large parts of the country, that kind of income does not get you a big home or lots of vacations or anything else that’s associated with wealth in America.”

But critics see a dangerous policy precedent in defining “the rich” by what they can buy, not by how their incomes compare with those of other taxpayers.