Back in the day? You're only 20 something. Back in the day for you was 2005!Meh, I lived comfortably (although not luxuriously) on $20,000 back in the day. It was enough for me to have a cheap apartment in a safe neighborhood in a low-cost part of Ohio, three square meals a day, an old car, internet and two computers, health insurance through my employer, and the occasional cheap night out with friends. Granted, I wouldn't want to live that lifestyle forever (which is part of why I made the decision to go to b-school), but straight out of college I didn't really mind. Living on $20,000 is definitely possible. I can't imagine why it would "cost someone $80,000 to live" unless they had made some very extravagant lifestyle decisions of their own volition.
It doesn't matter what you you think it should cost to live. What matters, is that if a person wants a lifestyle that costs 80 grand a year to maintain, they have the right to have that lifestyle. This is still America, afterall.
You pay $28,000+ a year in taxes?I don't think that a modest tax increase would force upper-middle class to lower their standard of living very much. For example, the 28% on $100K isn't too far off from what I currently pay on my income, and I've never had a problem coming up with the money. But ultimately I think this is a moot point...the people who need to be paying more are the people who wouldn't be forced to lower their standard of living much at all, i.e. the very wealthy.