August 27, 2004

Bush Economy: Poverty Rate Up 3rd Year In a Row, More Also Lack Health Coverage

What they won' tell you:

1) The US economy was not at the end of the Clinton
era economic boom, it was just due for serious
profit-taking and a brief cooling off
2) The illegitimacy of the Bush regime had a real and
negative impact on the country's psyche in general and
on the pysche of the markets in particular
3) It was not only the disturbing way in which the
Bush cabal took power, but also the fact that their
ascendancy meant that there would be a radical
departure from the Rubinesque beauty of White House
economic policy during the 1990s
4) The phoney "California energy crisis" perpetrated
by Enron's Ken Lay and other scions of the Bush cabal
and pulled off with the complicity of the Bush-Cheney
FERC, took out the Golden State's huge economy in
general and Silicon Valley in particular, propelling
the rest of the country into a downward spin
4a) The subsequent collapse of Enron, and the eruption
of similar corporate governance scandals it triggered,
was also a significant factor
psychologically and financially
5) The increasingly unhinged and incredibly shrinking
_resident two brazenly skewed tax cuts decimated the
surplus and confirmed the markets worst fears of
fiscal irresponsibility in the White House
6) The devastating attacks of 9/11 and their aftermath
finished us off
7) The increasingly unhinged and incredibly shrinking
_resident utter abnegation of leadership in the
Israeli/Palestinian struggle followed up by his
foolish military adventure in Iraq have greatly
excerbated our national insecurity and contributed
significantly the soaring oil prices
It's How the Media Reports the Economy, Stupid.

Ceci Connolly and Griff Witte, Washington Post: The
number of Americans living in poverty or lacking
health insurance rose for the third straight year in
2003, the Census Bureau announced yesterday,
reflecting a job market that failed to match otherwise
strong economic growth.
Overall, the median household income remained stagnant
at $43,318, while the national poverty rate rose to
12.5 percent -- 35.9 million people -- last year, from
12.1 percent in 2002. Hit hardest were women, who for
the first time since 1999 saw their earnings decline,
and children. By the end of 2003, 12.9 million
children lived in poverty.
As expected, the number of people without health
insurance grew last year, to 45 million -- an increase
to 15.6 percent from 15.2 percent. White adults,
primarily in the South, accounted for most of the
increase. The proportion of people receiving health
insurance through an employer fell to 60.4 percent,
the lowest level in a decade, from 61.3 percent.
The census report provided hard numbers to anecdotal
evidence that the recent recovery has missed certain
regions and segments of the population. An additional
1.3 million Americans fell below the poverty line in
2003, as incomes dipped for the poorest 20 percent of
the population. An additional 1.4 million became newly
uninsured.

Restore Fiscal Responsibility to the White House, Show
Up for Democracy in 2004: Defeat Bush (again!)


http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A35175-2004Aug26.html


washingtonpost.com
Poverty Rate Up 3rd Year In a Row, More Also Lack Health Coverage
By Ceci Connolly and Griff Witte
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, August 27, 2004; Page A01


The number of Americans living in poverty or lacking
health insurance rose for the third straight year in
2003, the Census Bureau announced yesterday,
reflecting a job market that failed to match otherwise
strong economic growth.

Overall, the median household income remained stagnant
at $43,318, while the national poverty rate rose to
12.5 percent -- 35.9 million people -- last year, from
12.1 percent in 2002. Hit hardest were women, who for
the first time since 1999 saw their earnings decline,
and children. By the end of 2003, 12.9 million
children lived in poverty.

As expected, the number of people without health
insurance grew last year, to 45 million -- an increase
to 15.6 percent from 15.2 percent. White adults,
primarily in the South, accounted for most of the
increase. The proportion of people receiving health
insurance through an employer fell to 60.4 percent,
the lowest level in a decade, from 61.3 percent.

The census report provided hard numbers to anecdotal
evidence that the recent recovery has missed certain
regions and segments of the population. An additional
1.3 million Americans fell below the poverty line in
2003, as incomes dipped for the poorest 20 percent of
the population. An additional 1.4 million became newly
uninsured.

"This recovery has failed to reach those in the bottom
half," said Jared Bernstein, a senior economist with
the Economic Policy Institute.

As President Bush prepared to head to New York for the
Republican National Convention, yesterday's data gave
Democrats an opening for picking at his perceived
weakness on traditional bread-and-butter issues.

"While George Bush tries to convince America's
families that we're turning the corner, slogans and
empty rhetoric can't hide the real story," said Sen.
John F. Kerry (Mass.), the Democratic presidential
nominee. "Under George Bush's watch, America's
families are falling further behind."

Bush, campaigning in New Mexico, had no comment.
Commerce Secretary Donald L. Evans said the census
data looked "backward in time at an economy that was
substantially weaker" than it is today. He predicted
that the numbers will improve as Bush "continues to
press extremely hard to create the right conditions
and business climate" for job growth and broader
health coverage.

Yet the census report stood in sharp contrast to an
economy and a stock market that grew briskly in 2003,
especially in the second half of the year. "The impact
of a persistent jobless recovery is all over these
results," Bernstein said.

With fewer people working and fewer small businesses
offering health coverage, the uninsured figure is
likely to remain high until the unemployment rate
drops to about 4 percent, said Paul Fronstin, a senior
research associate at the Employee Benefit Research
Institute.

"It's not just about how many people have jobs, but
it's about the kind of jobs they have," he said. "Even
though people are employed, they are less likely to
have access to coverage."

In this region, more people were without health
coverage in 2003 than in 2002. In Virginia, the
uninsured rate rose to 13.3 percent from 12.2 percent;
in both Maryland and the District, it rose to 13.6
percent from 12.8 percent.

The national poverty rate declined from 1993 to 2000,
when it reached a low of 11.3 percent. In the next
three years, 4.3 million more people fell below the
poverty line, and the median household income dropped
by more than $1,500 in inflation-adjusted terms.

Locally, poverty rates rose in Virginia to 10 percent
from 8.9 percent, and in Maryland to 8 percent from
7.3 percent, according to the Census Bureau's two-year
averaging. In the District, it declined 0.7 percent,
but, at 16.9 percent, it remained higher than the
national average.

The poverty line is not a single, consistent number;
it varies with time and family size. In 2003, the
average poverty line for an individual was $9,393. For
a family of four, it was $18,810. Despite the recent
increase in poverty rates, the rates remained lower
than the average for both the 1980s and the 1990s.

Economic issues -- including the availability and
affordability of health insurance -- remain top
concerns among voters. In several recent Washington
Post and Gallup surveys, voters gave the president no
better than a 51 percent approval rating on his
handling of the economy, and in a head-to-head matchup
with Kerry on economic matters, Bush trailed 41
percent to his challenger's 52 percent.

Yesterday's report showed that several swing states
saw an increase in the poverty rate, the percentage of
uninsured or both -- including Iowa, Michigan,
Missouri, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon,
Pennsylvania, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

"It's definitely not the news that the president was
hoping for," said Rea S. Hederman Jr., senior policy
analyst at the Heritage Foundation.

Children made up an especially large segment of the
newly impoverished, accounting for more than half of
the overall increase as 733,000 more youngsters
slipped below the poverty line. Similarly, the number
of families in poverty headed by a single mother
jumped 1.5 percent, to 3.9 million.

Sheldon H. Danziger, co-director of the National
Poverty Center at the University of Michigan, said the
rise in poverty represents fallout from the 1996
Welfare Reform Act. Because the new policy shifted
government benefits to reward those who work, single
mothers who were employed received additional
assistance when jobs were plentiful but are struggling
now that the economy has 1.2 million fewer jobs.

"They did fine when the economy was booming, and even
in the early part of the recession," he said. "But now
there's been an increase in the number of women who
have no work and no welfare."

Hederman disagreed with Danziger, noting that the
child poverty rate, although up for the year at 17.6
percent, is still well below the 20.5 percent it hit
in 1996.

"You've seen a lot of people who left poverty and who
haven't returned back to it even after the economic
downturn," he said.

Single mothers were not helped by the fact that the
earnings of women overall suffered, declining by 0.6
percent. Women made 76 cents for every dollar earned
by men in 2003, compared with 77 cents in 2002. Others
who felt the sting included Hispanics, whose median
income dropped 2.6 percent last year.

Viewing the increase in poverty by race, Asian
Americans were hit hardest, but census officials said
the rise appeared to be a statistical anomaly
resulting from a small sample size.

Since 2000, the number of uninsured Americans has
grown by 5.2 million people, or 13 percent.

"The latest data indicate that loss of insurance is of
particular concern for middle-income and low-wage
workers," said Karen Davis, president of the
nonpartisan Commonwealth Fund, a private foundation
that studies health and social policy trends.

More Americans were enrolled in government health
programs such as Medicaid and Medicare than at any
time in the past two decades. Last year, 26.6 percent
of the population was covered by government health
insurance, the highest percentage since 1995.

The State Children's Health Insurance Program appeared
to be the leading reason the number of youngsters
without coverage did not rise, even though millions
more fell into poverty.

At the libertarian Cato Institute, Michael Cannon, the
director of health studies, attributed the rise in
uninsured to government regulation. Health and Human
Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson said it was the
Senate's fault, even though Republicans control both
houses of Congress.

"The big failure is not what is happening in the
administration. We are doing everything we can," he
said in a conference call. "Individuals in the United
States Senate have failed to adopt the president's
proposals dealing with health care."

Proposals to cap malpractice awards, to provide tax
credits for individuals purchasing insurance and to
create small-business insurance purchasing pools "show
a president that is leading and a Congress that is
not," he said.

The Census Bureau normally releases its income,
poverty and health insurance figures in September. It
moved the release date up a month to make it coincide
with the release of a separate set of data. Democrats
have charged that the timing is suspicious, given that
many people take vacations in August and could miss
the bad news.

Senior polling analyst Christopher Mustie contributed
to this report.

2004 The Washington Post Company



Posted by richard at August 27, 2004 07:27 PM