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Ask the Little People

chicago dyke's picture

Hale's got a great piece up that I think we should all email to our Congresscritters. These aren't what you'd call "happy" numbers:

More than six in 10 Americans say the country is on the wrong track, according to a new Bloomberg/Los Angeles Times poll. More than half disapprove of Bush's handling of the economy, and 36 percent strongly disapprove. Almost half, 48 percent, say his policies have made the economy worse than it was when he became president; 19 percent say it's better.

``Gas prices are knocking us back into the dirt,'' said Burden, 31, one of the respondents in the poll. ``It seems like, since Bush took office, the government is burning up cash again, and things are getting worse.''

Americans have grown more negative even as the economy grew at an annual pace of more than 5 percent in the first three months of this year and the unemployment rate fell to 4.6 percent in May from 5.1 percent a year earlier. In the poll, 47 percent say the economy is doing badly, up slightly from 44 percent in January.

Americans say things were better under President Bill Clinton. By a margin of 39 percent to 13 percent, those surveyed say wages and income grew more when Clinton was president than they have under Bush.

``I had a lot more money in my pocket when Clinton was president,'' said Bill Eastham, 56, an assembly line worker at an Alcoa smelting plant in nearby Newburgh, Indiana. ``I blame everything on Bush; the buck stops there.''

While the Bush administration has touted its tax cuts, saying they have stimulated the economy, six in 10 people surveyed say they haven't benefited from them.

The Right Wing Noise Machine has spent a fair amount of time complaining about the press' coverage of the economy. According to the likes of Hannity, Hewitt, Powerline and Ace of Spades, there is a plot to report nothing but bad economic news.

However, these poll respondents know a heck of a lot more than the RWNM pundits.

six in 10 people surveyed say they haven't benefited from them [the tax cuts].

There's a good reason for that. According to the Tax Policy Center 68% of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts went to the top quintile of income earners. 16.2% went to the fourth highest quintile, giving the top 40% of income earners 84.2% of the total benefits. In other words, 87.9% of all US taxpayers have seen little to no meaningful tax cut.

and I want everyone to just savor that number for a minute, and hum your favorite Revolutionary hymn.

``I had a lot more money in my pocket when Clinton was president

Yes you did. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the hourly pay for non-supervisory workers increased from $10.63 in January of 1993 to $14.26 in December 2000 for an increase of 34.14%. Over the same period, the inflation measure increased from 138.1 to 174 for an increase of 25.99%. Therefore, the inflation adjusted hourly wage increased 8.15%.

Looking deeper in the data provided by the Federal Reserve's Survey of Consumer Finances for 1998, the change is apparent:

In the 1998 survey, inflation-adjusted mean and median family incomes continued the upward trend between the 1992 and 1995 surveys; they also surpassed the levels observed in the 1989 survey toward the end of the previous expansion....
From 1995 to 1998, the proportion of families with incomes of $50,000 or more rose from one-fifth to 33.8%, while the proportion with incomes below $10,000 fell about one-sixth to 12.6%.

And from the 2001 survey:

Between 1998 and 2001, inflation-adjusted family incomes rose notably faster than they did in the 1995-98 period.The median rose 9.6% percent (2.5 percent during the 1995-98 period) and the mean rose 17.4% (12.2 during the 1995-98 period).

Compare this to the current expansion. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average hourly wage of production workers was $14.70 in November 2001 and $16.61 in April 2006 for an increase of 13%. Over the same period, the overall inflation index increased from 177.4 to 201.5 for an increase of 13.58%. This makes the inflation-adjusted wages for production workers -.5% for this expansion. This partially explains why average and median income growth for this expansion has been slow and why the poverty rate has increased each year for the last 4 years. The Federal Reserve also noted these slowing trends in income growth in its Survey of Consumer Finances 2001-2004, which concluded:

The change in real before-tax family income between 2001-2004 stands in strong contrast to the change for the preceding three-year period. Over the more recent period [2001-2004], median income rose 1.6%, while the mean fell 2.3%. Over the preceding three-year period, the median had increased 9.5% and the mean had increased 17.3%. The change over the 01-04 period was strongly influenced by a 6.2% decline in the overall median amount of wages measures in the survey and a 3.6% decline in the mean; wages represent the largest share of family income. Investment related incomes also declined.

It seems like, since Bush took office, the government is burning up cash again

Yes it is. First, Bush has never balanced a budget - even though he inherited a balanced budget. Clinton balanced his last four budgets. Under Bush, total federal debt outstanding has increased at a compound annual rate of 8.18%, whereas under Clinton it increased at a compound annual rate of 4.2%. In short, Clinton managed the national finances very well. Bush hasn't. And everybody knows that.

The RWNM has an incredibly large persecution complex. It's always a liberal plot to destroy their genius policies. However, when

1.) People aren't making any more money,
2.) 87% of tax payers don't receive any benefits from the much touted tax cuts and
3.) The government is writing tons of hot checks,

they aren't happy. The "man on the street" knows what's going on. And, you can't bullshit them.

Indeed.

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