Dubya Discovers Poverty Data
By Bill Scher
August 29, 2007 - 12:54pm ET
Popular This Week
Also Worth Reading
Yesterday, after the Census released it's annual poverty report, with the poverty rate down from 12.6% of Amerians to 12.3%, President Bush released a triumphant statement:
President Bush Pleased With Lowered Poverty Rate
When we keep taxes low, spending in check, and our economy open - conditions that empower businesses to create new jobs - all Americans benefit. Census Bureau data released today confirms that more of our citizens are doing better in this economy, with continued rising incomes and more Americans pulling themselves out of poverty.
Never did Bush bother to acknowledge the data and its relation to his policies.
This year, it ticks down a bit to 12.3%. It's still up from where it was when he entered office, 11.3%. Bravo, tax cuts.
(It's also worth noting Steven Pearlstein's point that the poverty rate is a couple percentage points lower after factoring in the government assistance which conservatives say doesn't do anything.)
But what's most notable about the report is not the lone number, but the broader economic reality that isn't always captured by one number. From the New York Times:
Experts said the rise in income was mainly a reflection of an increase in the number of family members entering the workplace or working longer hours. Average wages for men and women actually declined for the third consecutive year.
“There’s lots of evidence that more people are working,” said Jared Bernstein, a senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal policy group in Washington. “The important theme going on here is a labor market that’s definitely offering people more work and more hours, but at lower wages.”
And with less health insurance from employers too.
In theory, the poverty rate could be zero by shoving more people into low-pay jobs with little or no benefits, forcing families to work more than 40 hours a week just to make ends meet, if that.
That's not an American economy most of us want to live in.
But for Bush, who once praised a woman working three jobs to get by as "uniquely American," it is.
UPDATE: DMIBlog offers this take on the new poverty report:
Overall, the income numbers indicate that ordinary Americans are still not sharing the benefits of economic growth, or even recovering the ground lost in the last recession. This is fundamentally the result of working people's weak ability to bargain for better pay, even when economic growth enables employers to afford it.
Help us spread the word about these important stories...
Email to a friend
Views expressed on this page are those of the authors and not necessarily those of Campaign for America's Future or Institute for America's Future