Wednesday, August 31, 2005



"INCOME, POVERTY, AND HEALTH INSURANCE COVERAGE IN THE UNITED STATES: 2004" is the name of a just-released report from the U.S. Census Bureau. The Bush Regime, never too interested in what normal people call "reality," is, in all likelihood, looking for some heads to chop off at that agency. The report is a clear-eyed, dry and completely devastating indictment of Bush's stewardship of the American economy. With the GOP propaganda machine working on overtime to convince the saps that pay it any heed that the economy is flying high-- Limbaugh claims that Bush's record is better than Clinton's almost every single day-- this by-the-numbers assessment shows that between 2003 and 2004 real median earnings dropped-- 2.3% among men and 1% among women. In 2004, there were 1,100,000 more people living in poverty than in 2003 and most of this downward movement took place in the Midwest and the worst-hit ethnic group was white people. Since Bush took office his approach to the economy-- once called "Voodoo Economics" by his father, also called "trickle down"-- which is based on heavily cutting taxes of the rich and on corporations (ie- drastically rejigging the distribution of wealth in favor of wealthy individuals), has seen the poverty level increase EACH OF THE FOUR YEARS he's had his hand on the national till.

Regardless of what out-of-touch Republicans will tell you about how great the economy is, the cold hard facts show us 37 million of our fellow Americans living in poverty, almost a third of them children. The other day some wealthy Republicans were sitting around on CNBC or CNN discussing Bush Supreme Court nominee Robert's stock portfolio. I was stunned to hear one of the analysts refer to it as a "typical $10,000,000 middle class portfolio." How out of touch are these people from reality to conjure up the notion than a typical middle class person has a $10,000,000 stock portfolio? But people with these kinds of delusional attitudes are making economic policies for this nation based on this kinds of premises. I suppose it's more pleasant to think about a humming economy for happy, smiling John Robertses with $10,000,000 stock portfolios than it is to think about the statistics in the Census Bureau report that show the number of people in our country with no health insurance has climbed by nearly a million people last year alone to a grand total of 45.8 people. (Of course if they all have typical $10,000,000 stock portfolios they might not need health insurance.)

Since Bush took office 6 million more people have slipped below the poverty line. I'm no big fan of Bill Clinton's policies, which were too pro-corporation and too dependent of the good-will of a sane and fair Administration, but what can't be denied is that during the Clinton Administration poverty rates were steadily decreasing. Bush has managed to reverse that-- and he has reversed it by design. (By the way, the definition of poverty is pretty dismal. For a family of 4 to be considered below the poverty line, their annual income would have to be below $19,307 and for a family of two, it would be $12,334. Think about those numbers for a minute and consider what they mean in terms of standard of living in YOUR community.)

Job creation under Bush has been dismal. There were overall job losses in 2001 and in 2002. In 2003 there was an anemic growth in jobs (94,000), not even close to the number needed to keep up with new entrants into the jobs market. And last year-- with people desperate and willing to work for less and to work in dead-end, low-wage jobs-- slightly over 2 million new jobs were created. Despite ignorant nativists and bigots like Republican Congressman Tom Tancredo (R-CO), official GOP policy has always been-- and has been further strengthened under Bush-- to allow for unlimited (undocumented) immigration in order to drive wage levels down and create an inexpensive labor market for American corporations. The median household income in the U.S. now stands at $44,389. Think about it for a minute or two, not as an abstract number but as what an American family needs to maintain an adequate standard of living.


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