[Homestead] Voting the pocketbook

Tvoivozhd 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
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

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 
five years.

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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