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Tossing the Good Economy Theory Out the Window

by Pamela Leavey

I’ve said here in the past that it was my opinion that the economy sucks. As a small business owner, I’ve seen the effects of the economic downturn first hand, that the Bush administration repeatedly has refused to acknowledge.

The new Census report sheds light on what many of us know but some refuse to acknowledge. An editorial about the census report in today’s NY Times says aptly on the state of the economy, “If you’re still harboring the notion that the economy is “good,” prepare to be disabused.”

On Monday, the NY Times reported that “the median hourly wage for American workers has declined 2 percent since 2003, after factoring in inflation.”

Not only has the median income dropped, but the “number of Americans living in poverty in 2005 — 37 million — was the same as in 2004.”

This is the first time the number has not risen since 2000. But the share of the population now in poverty — 12.6 percent — is still higher than at the trough of the last recession, when it was 11.7 percent. And among the poor, 43 percent were living below half the poverty line in 2005 — $7,800 for a family of three. That’s the highest percentage of people in “deep poverty” since the government started keeping track of those numbers in 1975.

Adding insult to injury, the ranks of the unisured “grew in 2005 by 1.3 million people, to a record 46.6 million, or 15.9 percent.”

That’s also worse than the recession year 2001, reflecting the rising costs of health coverage and a dearth of initiatives to help families and companies cope with the burden. For the first time since 1998, the percentage of uninsured children increased in 2005.

Last month John Kerry gave a speech in Boston outlining his plan for Universal Healthcare for all by 2012. Citing Bush’s failure to save the healthcare crisis, Kerry said, Bush has “done nothing beyond trotting out the conservative hobby-horse of health savings accounts.”

Welcome to the BushCo economic plan for “Downward Mobility,” that proves that “growth alone is not the answer to the economic and social ills of poverty, income inequality and lack of insurance.”

Although economic growth may have been “strong in 2005” (for large corporations), and “productivity growth was impressive” (for large corporations), what is missing, the NY Times says, are the “government policies that help to ensure that the benefits of growth are broadly shared — like strong support for public education, a progressive income tax, affordable health care, a higher minimum wage and other labor protections.”

President Bush is unlikely to push for those changes, wed as he is to tax cuts that mainly benefit the wealthy. But the economic agenda for the next president couldn’t be clearer.

Ironically, in his interview with Brian Williams last night on NBC, Bush actually let it slide that “the economy went into the tank,” after 9/11. Ah, well… what’s a minor slip of the tongue from the man who does nothing to fix the economy. Need I say more?

It’s time to disabuse the one party rule in America, that has forced the economic downturn that for many will takes a very longtime to recover from. We can count a littany of issues that are important in this election cycle, but let’s not forget the one issue that so many are reticent to talk about — the economy.

3 Responses to “Tossing the Good Economy Theory Out the Window”

  1. From another NYT article, Real Wages Fail to Match a Rise in Productivity: “National economic policies are more clearly in focus in presidential campaigns,” said Richard T. Curtin, director of the University of Michigan’s consumer surveys. “When you’re electing your local House members, you don’t debate that on those issues as much.”
    This means we should be touting the report of the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy on Congress at the Midterm: Their 2005 Middle-Class Record.

    The Institute’s report:

    takes a closer look at the decisions made by Congress, from creating new obstacles for families overcome with debt to declare bankruptcy to a disastrous budget that aimed to pay for tax cuts benefiting the rich with dramatic cuts to student loans and health programs for the poor. After examining each bill in detail, Congress at the Midterm assigns a grade to each member of Congress based on his or her support for the middle class.

    The record is clear: Members of Congress failed the middle class in 2005. A quick look at the report card shows that a vast majority of senators and representatives earned a grade of C or less

    Now guess who did the best for the middle class and who earned the most ‘F’s?

    Who Made An “A” Failed
    the Grade?
    House 20% 58%
    Democrats 44% 11%
    Republicans 0% 99%

    Senate 9% 53%
    Democrats 20% 2%
    Republicans 0% 95%

    We are not surprised. But Joe and Jane Public should know more about this. The rest of the report is at the site.

  2. Fooey. The graph all went together. Maybe Pamela can fix it.

  3. Ginny

    Graphs never seems to lay out well for some reason.