[Homestead] Voting the pocketbook
tvoivozd at infionline.net
Sun Sep 5 00:04:06 EDT 2004
If the average voter responds correctly to the question, "Are you better
off today than four years ago", Bush is gone---especially in Ohio and
Pennsyovania. A furious spin has its limitations when matched with reality.
Editorial: Lost America / The spreading poverty described by the Census
Monday, August 30, 2004
The indictment against President Bush's economic policy is growing, and
no amount of political spin can save the administration from the hard
reality of the government's own numbers.
The U.S. Census Bureau, in an annual report released Thursday, revealed
that 1.3 million more Americans fell into poverty in 2003 and 1.4
million more were without health insurance. The rising totals in both
categories were 35.8 million people (more than 12 percent of the
population) living below the poverty line last year and 45 million (more
than 15 percent) without medical coverage.
That is bitter news to swallow when America is expending young lives,
public dollars and global standing on a questionable war in Iraq.
Contrast that picture with the upbeat portrayal attempted three days
earlier by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in
announcing the 2003 figures on recipients of Temporary Assistance for
Needy Families. HHS officials crowed that the 3 percent decline in use
of the welfare cash benefits by individuals, to a total of 4.8 million
people, and the 1.8 percent drop in use by families, to 2 million,
showed that welfare reform was working and that, under the Bush economy,
more Americans were becoming self-sufficient.
But TANF is only a small part of the poverty landscape, which is
described by the more gloomy statistics of the Census.
Pennsylvanians, in particular, continue to suffer. Despite the average
drop nationwide, the number of TANF families here rose in 2003 by 6.7
percent, as they did in other states. Food stamp use in Pennsylvania
increased by 17 percent in May 2004 over the previous May, to 972,469
recipients. And a study released Wednesday by the Allegheny County
Health Department showed that 10 percent of county residents lacked
health insurance in 2002 -- nearly a third of them for between two and
Don't look for improvement in the short term either. Given the nation's
still-anemic job growth and a sluggish 2.8 percent increase in the
second-quarter gross domestic product (vs. 4.5 percent in the first),
this is an economy with too many have-nots and left-outs, even in 2004.
These numbers describe a different kind of America from the one
projected by the White House -- households where the daily fights for
survival are every bit as pitched as the daily struggles in Iraq. It's
time for the Bush administration to wake up and smell the misery.
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