A review in the leftish Democracy: A Journal of Ideas of a new book, Rebound: Why America Will Emerge Stronger From the Financial Crisis, by Stephen Rose, acknowledges that the left is overestimating both income inequality and the pervasiveness of credit card debt:
The standard Census Bureau data are reported by "household," the bureau's basic statistical unit. Since 1979 or so, the Census data show that inflation-adjusted growth for the bottom half of the population is not much above zero–running at a third to a half percent a year. Rose starts by adjusting the data for trends in household formation. Up through the 1970s, nuclear families stayed together longer–granny helped take care of the kids, and junior and sis frequently lived at home until marriage. With rising affluence, and large benefit increases for the elderly, granny kept her own digs, and kids got their own places sooner. One consequence was that household formation grew much faster than population, automatically dampening reported growth in household incomes.
And since the new householders were disproportionately single, and elderly or young, they were precisely the cohorts with the lowest average incomes–which would look even lower since the Census excludes non-monetary transfers like food stamps. Medicare and Medicaid, and housing subsidies, which go primarily to the poor and aged....The census data, in short, cannot be taken as a fair description of inequality, although they have been red meat to liberals.
...Rose presents similar analyses for health insurance coverage, debt, retirement issues, and others, often with surprising results. I would not have guessed that median cardholder credit card debt is zero. But since the majority of card -holders pay their full card balances every month, the median card-holder indeed carries no interest-bearing credit card debt. For the people who do carry debt, Federal Reserve surveys show low median balances, in the $3,000 range.