The middle class was burgeoning, an interstate highway system was being built, we sent people to the moon...all when marginal tax rates were much higher than they are now. And still, there was a wealthy class, but the gap was not as great as it is now, with increasingly an upper elite class and everyone else falling behind.
One worker households were common, housewives/stay at home moms were common, higher education (state universities) were very affordable, pensions were common as was employer supplied health care. Families could even afford their home, a car or even two, vacation for the entire family, etc...on a bus driver's wage...(this is my personal experience, a family with 4 children and a father who was a bus driver, and a mother who was a stay at home mom, den mother, PTA member, volunteer registrar of voters, etc...none of us children ever went to day care, and I don't even remember ever having a baby sitter.) The top marginal tax rate under Ike was 92%,
The tax reform passed after Kennedy’s death cut the top marginal tax rate from 90 percent to 70 percent, twice today's top rate of 35 percent. Kennedy explicitly called for a top rate of 65 percent, but added that it should be set at 70 percent if certain deductions weren't phased out at the top of the income scale.
– Kennedy called for U.S. corporations to be taxed on all their profits, earned anywhere in the world, rather than the current system of allowing them to defer taxation until they bring those profits home. "The undesirability of continuing deferral is underscored where deferral has served as a shelter for tax escape through the unjustifiable use of tax havens such as Switzerland," Kennedy said in 1961. During Kennedy's time in office, corporate taxes made up more than 20 percent of total revenue. Today, it's less than ten percent.
– Kennedy called for cutting tax preferences for the oil and gas industries, saying in 1963 that, "while these are complex as well as controversial problems, we cannot shrink from a frank appraisal of governmental policies and tax subsidies in this area." Republicans have been adamantly opposed to cutting subsidies for oil and gas companies.
– Kennedy called for limiting itemized deductions for the rich, saying that they should receive the same benefit for things like charitable giving "as everyone else," instead of preferential treatment (which they still receive). President Obama has called for the same system since he came into office, but the GOP has derided Obama's proposals.