published Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

Barack Obama: The poverty president

  • photo
    President Barack Obama talks abut taxes Friday in Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House campus in Washington.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

A few weeks ago, the Federal Reserve pointed out that recent economic losses have been so severe that the median U.S. family has only about as much wealth as it had in the early 1990s. Thus two decades went down the financial drain in the space of a few years.

The Fed attributed a lot of that drop to the plunge in the housing market. By one estimate, U.S. households have lost a total of $7 trillion over the past six years because of the fall in home prices.

But homes worth vastly less than what people still owe on them are not the scariest thing about the current economy.

More than a dozen think tanks, economists and professors from across the political spectrum weighed in on a recent survey by The Associated Press on the country's economic prospects, and it would be a reckless understatement to call their predictions troubling.

They overwhelmingly believe that when census figures for 2011 come out this fall, poverty in the United States will have risen from 2010's 15.1 percent -- to as high as 15.7 percent. They estimate that in 2011, almost 50 million Americans were living below the official poverty line of around $22,000 for a family of four.

That would bring poverty in this country to its worst level since 1965 -- nearly half a century ago.

Tragic as they may be, though, these numbers should not come as a surprise.

It was about a year ago that the U.S. Department of Agriculture made a grim announcement: Food stamp usage had risen to almost 15 percent. That was an all-time high of nearly 46 million Americans, and it was up by a stunning 47 percent since just before Barack Obama took office. Yearly government spending on food stamps doubled to a record $75 billion in four years.

And don't forget unemployment -- not that anybody could.

Joblessness has been stuck above 8 percent for 42 straight months now, the longest span since the Great Depression. In fact, the rate rose to a five-month high of 8.3 percent in July, according to the jobs report released Friday. Tens of millions more Americans are not counted in that official rate of unemployment even though they have simply given up seeking jobs, need full-time work but can get only part time, or have retired earlier than they wanted because they can't get hired.

We were told by the Obama administration that unemployment wouldn't even go past 8 percent if Congress passed the 2009 stimulus. By mid-2012, the administration projected, unemployment was supposed to be around 5.6 percent.

So much for rosy predictions. Where are the jobs, Mr. President? Where is the bustling employment picture that was supposed to come into happy focus after Democrats passed the $862 billion stimulus?

It isn't there, because all that government-directed spending didn't prime the jobs pump the way it was claimed that it would.

Yet the president doesn't seem to appreciate fully the economic chaos to which his policies have contributed. He called the jobs report released a month earlier -- showing unemployment unchanged in June -- "a step in the right direction."

For whom? Workers at agencies that process unemployment benefits?

The "stimulus" spending wasn't entirely without its effects, mind you. It burdened the United States with higher debt, which today stands at roughly $16 trillion. That debt load virtually guarantees eventual, economy-busting tax increases and massive cuts in entitlements -- or a combination of the two. The stimulus also helped fund green energy flops such as solar panel maker Solyndra. So let it not be said that it served no purpose.

Poverty is rising in this country, Mr. President. It has happened on your watch and in large measure because of big-government, high-spending policies that you have promoted.

You can continue to blame the previous administration, and that tune will play well with many in your political base who, like you, see higher taxes and more government as the solution.

But you had better hope that the voting public as a whole doesn't look around at some point before November and ask, "Are we better off than we were four years ago?"

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jazzman said...

re: 'the voting public '

keep checkin' those electoral projections, have a beer handy when you start to cry

re: 'It has happened on your watch '

so... Bush WAS responsible for September 11th....and hurricane Katrina... 'It happened on his watch.,

re: taxes

Do you people ever read ?

MONDAY, JULY 30, 2012 Congressional Budget Office : -the lowest tax burden on record. It's about 20 percent lower than the federal tax burden in 1979, when the CBO's data series began. It's lower than the tax burden all throughout the 1980s, when Ronald Reagan was president. Tax rates are at historic lows, for earned income. Today’s top rates are currently lower than at any time since 1930

you right-wing republicans and your Orwellian anti-truth...

re: 'Great Depression'

Herbert Hoover brought it in.... FDR guided it out.... what is with you right-wingers... you destroy the economy, and then you complain the Dems don't fix it fast enough.

I enjoy right-wing 'commentary', it is devoid of reason or thought,, and above all, proves the Pres right when he said....'they take pride in their own ignorance'.

August 8, 2012 at 1:45 a.m.
joneses said...

Most of the tax dollars collected to fight poverty end up as Thomas Sowell notes, “in the pockets of highly paid administrators, consultants, and staff as well as higher-income recipients of benefits from programs advertised as anti-poverty efforts.” Clearly, the bucket used to carry money from the pockets of the taxpayer to the poor is leaking badly. Many think the real beneficiaries of liberal social programs are not the poor and disadvantaged but the members of the governmental bureaucracy who administer the program. Those who administer these programs have a vested interest in their survival and expansion. Winning the war on poverty is not the goal, perpetuating the programs is. “Less than 25 percent of all the tax dollars allocated to fight poverty at every level of government reaches the poor. The other 75 percent goes to pay overhead.”[1] Advocates of “social justice” programs implemented by the State at the expense of the mainly productive members of society will claim that there are success stories. Few would dispute the claim. When so much money is being poured into these programs, someone is bound to benefit. But if that same money — including the revenue lost in overhead expenditures that never reach the poor — were saved, invested, and spent instead of taxed, many more people would benefit, and we would have fewer social-welfare slaves. Liberals need poor people and the programs that keep the poor in poverty. A perpetual underclass insures that liberal do-gooders will get re-elected. The worst of them are poverty pimps like Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and Maxine Waters. Their call for more spending will only make their fellow-blacks that live in poverty more dependent on the State, all the while blaming the “rich” for their misfortune.

August 8, 2012 at 4:47 a.m.
EaTn said...

To paraphrase that great politician Mittens, the wealthy will do quite well regardless of who wins the election.

August 8, 2012 at 6:47 a.m.
librul said...

Rmoney's tax plan:

He pays less, you pay more.

August 8, 2012 at 7:40 a.m.
conservative said...

Very good writer!

I believe the "poverty" figure is misleading though. We have many more government welfare programs, tax credits, and subsidies then we had during LBJ.

An unskilled worker making $20,000 will likely continue to only make that amount so as not lose his freebies which are derived from other people's money. He has no incentive to better himself.

August 8, 2012 at 9:07 a.m.
UjokinRIGHTQ said...

Interesting Book: "In the new book, "The Party Is Over," veteran Republican Mike Lofgren writes about the rise of politicized religious fundamentalism and how the GOP devolved into anti-intellectual nuts"

With exception of GOP diehard followers, most everyone know Republicans have blocked every effort the present administration has tried to implement that would stimulate the economy and create jobs. They want this present administration to fail and fail greatly, even if destroying America and Americans is the eventual outcome .

August 8, 2012 at 9:21 a.m.
Plato said...

We were told by the Obama administration that unemployment wouldn't even go past 8 percent if Congress passed the 2009 stimulus.

That statement was made during the 2nd fiscal quarter of 2009 when the best estimates of GDP were at minus 3 or 4. In April when the 2nd quarter results came in, it was revealed that the economy was contracting at a devastating 9% much worse than we thought and borderline depression numbers. Shame on Obama for not cleaning up Bush's mess quick enough.

Where are the jobs, Mr. President?

Maybe a better question is "Where is the Jobs Bill Mr. Boehner?" you know the one that's been sitting on your desk for over a year now that would have fixed our crumbling infrastructure and put a million people back to work.

Where is the bustling employment picture that was supposed to come into happy focus after Democrats passed the $862 billion stimulus? It isn't there, because all that government-directed spending didn't prime the jobs pump the way it was claimed that it would.

According to the non-partisan congressional budget office, the stimulus and the auto company rescue plan saved or created upwards of 3 Million jobs. That's 3 million people who paid taxes into the federal treasury rather than drawing unemployment or welfare from it. During the Obama tenure 4.5 Million new private sector jobs have been created - more than in Bush's 8 years of trickle down economics.

Seems to me that the Free Press Editor could come up with something other than parroting the same ole GOP non-factual talking points.

August 8, 2012 at 10:03 a.m.
raygunz said...

Normally in a recession and recovery government at all levels increase public employment - this has happened in every GOP administration - and much of that increase is funded by federal government grants to the state and local governments. But since the Stimulus, the GOP has blocked any substantial help for the states, and in GOP led states severe austerity cuts have been the rule - even including GOP governors rejecting projects fully funded by the federal government. The economic cost of this is far more than just those 600 thousand jobs - the spillover effect on private business and local economies has been devastating - when you factor in all these effects the total job cost of austerity has been estimated at 2.3 million jobs.

President Obama proposed the American Jobs Act in his 2011 State of the Union address, and spent the next year promoting it at every opportunity. Although expensive - it contained a combination of targeted tax cuts and some tax increases, along with direct spending designed to increase consumer spending and lower the cost to business of hiring new workers, all while paying for the bill. The CBO said the bill would not only have paid for itself within 10 years, but would have reduced the deficit by at least 6 billion dollars. According to an analysis by Moody's it would have created about 1.9 million jobs.

The result of GOP obstruction with those two things cost us 2.3 million jobs and 1.9 million jobs respectively. US employment as of May 2011 is about 155 million jobs, which means those 4.2 million jobs that the GOP has prevented account for 2.7% of the unemployment rate. But let's be fair, there is a small amount of overlap in those jobs - a small portion (about 8%) of the American Jobs Act would have gone to State and Local governments to pay for teachers, first responders and the like - although for the most part it would have just prevented further layoffs rather than resulted in new hires. It is also very likely that without the economic wrecking of GOP obstructionism the labor participation rate would be higher - so instead of a reduction of unemployment to 5.5% it would be slightly higher, but still well under 6%.

http://www.alternet.org/newsandviews/article/1025337/without_gop%2C_unemployment_would_be_under_6/#paragraph5

August 8, 2012 at 10:11 a.m.
JustOneWoman said...

conservative said... An unskilled worker making $20,000 will likely continue to only make that amount so as not lose his freebies which are derived from other people's money. He has no incentive to better himself.

Don't you mean "skilled" workers making $20k? Your statement shows just how out of touch you are with reality.

min wage is 7.25. Forty hours would gross $290. per week, times 52 = $15k, not to mention payroll taxes. The Medical Assistant that went to school for 2 years, and helps your doctor when you go to have that prostrate problem checked is the one making about $20k per year. Neither can afford insurance. We call these the working poor.

August 8, 2012 at 10:11 a.m.
conservative said...

Why do you Liberals never demand that Liberal business owners pay you that "living wage" you believe you deserve? Or why don't you Liberals pool your resources and start your own business, pay yourselves a "living wage", provide yourselves a Cadillac health care and pension plan and 4 weeks vacation?

No, you Liberals would rather whine.

August 8, 2012 at 10:46 a.m.
Easy123 said...

Conservative,

You really are out of touch.

August 8, 2012 at 11:21 a.m.
raygunz said...

Con, it's said that "ignorance is bliss",, yet, you sound so unhappy.?

August 8, 2012 at 11:23 a.m.
EaTn said...

conservative....why don't you out-of-touch right wingers pool your resources and take your business south of the border where wages are low, where other of their folks not finding jobs deal drugs and/or cross the border to try to make a living here for their families? Oh I forgot, you already have.

August 8, 2012 at 12:05 p.m.
conservative said...

Oh, I'm sorry, I forgot to mention that Liberals, when confronted with the truth squeal.

August 8, 2012 at 1:05 p.m.
conservative said...

Corporate taxes are passed on to the consumer. Stated another way corporate taxes increase the cost of every good and service. Stated another way, the minimum wage earner pays a higher price for everything he buys because that corporate tax rate is added to the price he pays for that good or service.

So, why do Liberals demand higher taxes on corporations?

August 8, 2012 at 1:50 p.m.
EaTn said...

conservative....unfortunately the consumer pays for about everything that a corporation thinks they can pass on while still being competitive. A few extra tax dollars means they have to squeeze somewhere else, like megabucks salaries, bonuses and stockholders profits. So for a competitive corporation, the consumer may have not paid anything for their corporate taxes--it may have come from the fat cats.

August 8, 2012 at 2:25 p.m.
JustOneWoman said...

conservative said... "So, why do Liberals demand higher taxes on corporations?"

It looks like you don't understand business or taxes. It is the personal income tax on the rich that needs to be raised, back to what it was before Bush stroked his buddies with the tax breaks. There has been some discussion on higher taxes for capital gains, but I haven't seen that grow any legs to walk.

"the minimum wage earner pays a higher price for everything he buys because that corporate tax rate is added to the price he pays for that good or service."

So in one breath you say it will cost more to live because of minimum wage, and with the other breath you say liberals should demand better paying jobs or create their own companies. Do you not think any business transaction does not figure more than minimum wage into the equation of the price?

August 8, 2012 at 3:20 p.m.
JustOneWoman said...

Oh I forgot to mention that every time Con posts, he feels the need to insult and sling poo. Con, let the change begin with you. Stop the hate.

August 8, 2012 at 3:24 p.m.
aae1049 said...

Darn, I just checked in to read HappywithFreeGovBlubs chew out the new rock star editor, and no Blubs. This one would have sent Blubs into short circuit.

August 8, 2012 at 4:08 p.m.
conservative said...

Woman, where have you been? Liberals have called for higher corporate taxes for at least the last 30yrs that I have paid attention. Many of those "rich" are small business and have incorporated. Owebama and the Demoncrats have bamboozled you.

You obviously missed my point about Liberals demanding "a living wage" and other benefits. The point is, it CAN NOT be done. Liberals are hypocrites because they don't start their own companies and pay the "living wage" and benefits they demand from supposedly Conservative companies.

You have huge anger issues and react instead of read. Calm down you will live longer.

August 8, 2012 at 4:26 p.m.
conservative said...

EaTn...

EaTn, EaTn, where do I begin, where do I end?

EaTn, the highest corporate tax rate in the world at 36% for American corporations is not "a few extra tax dollars."

You are the first Liberal I have ever heard of to put forth the notion that corporations swap salaries and bonuses of "greedy" CEO's in exchange for reduced costs to the consumer. I burst out laughing when I read that one. I roared when I read "it may have come from the fat cats."

Concerning "stockholders profits", I guess you mean dividends. Dividends are paid out when Corporations make a profit. Many retired people buy corporate stock and depend on the dividends from that stock. Corporations that don't make a profit don't pay dividends and don't stay in business for very long.

Most small business are corporations with a few employees and hardly pay "megabuck" salaries and bonuses to their CEOs and employees and I assure you must pass that high corporate tax along to the consumer.

August 8, 2012 at 4:49 p.m.
conservative said...

EaTn...

"conservative....why don't you out-of-touch right wingers pool your resources and take your business south of the border where wages are low, where other of their folks not finding jobs deal drugs and/or cross the border to try to make a living here for their families? Oh I forgot, you already have."

So, in your mind "conservatives" are the ones who take their business south of the border to provide jobs down there. So, why do you fault "conservatives" for the "folks" down there dealing drugs and crossing the border when the "conservatives" are providing jobs for them down there? Huh?

Who is out of touch?

August 8, 2012 at 5:19 p.m.
aae1049 said...

Very good Conservative response, Conservative,

"Why do you Liberals never demand that Liberal business owners pay you that "living wage" you believe you deserve? Or why don't you Liberals pool your resources and start your own business,..."

August 8, 2012 at 7:17 p.m.
EaTn said...

conservative.....I used to visit a nice relocated US manufacturing facility in Monterrey, Mexico that employed mostly young females who lived nearby and walked to work. The folks were hard working and made enough in a day's wages to just about purchase one of the burger chain meals which was also nearby. As you can imagine, very few locals ate there.

August 8, 2012 at 8:36 p.m.
tipper said...

People demand corporations pay higher taxes so they can actually pay the taxes they should pay. Corporate lobbyists have purchased so many loopholes through Congress that the corparate tax rate is really irrelevant. If the corporate tax rate were lowered, there is no doubt they would seek to headquarter in another country where they can either pay significantly less or nothing at all. The days when corporations wish to pay their fair share in taxes are over. Extreme profits, low wage payments, zero regulations ion safety and environment are the mantra for today's executives and major shareholders. Job creation is just another cost and liability. Those who think corporations and the financial industry are flag-waving patriots who care about Americans are living in another world.

August 8, 2012 at 9:22 p.m.
carlB said...

jazzman What you said to rebut the TFP Editorial is very good.

How many times have we heard the below repeated and the willing people buy into it as being the truth?

Have the voters "become brain dead," or "dumbed down" in not paying any attention to what is being said by the Republicans just to turn and divide the voters against President Obama?

Also another plan of the Republicans is to take away and go back to the mind set of, "it is not the role of the government" to help the people under any circumstances leaving the people at the mercy of the private sectors to fend for themselves which means they will be repressed, regressed, oppressed, depressed, digressed, and suppressed with new morality laws being passed by the government. Is the what the voters want?”

Why did the TFP Editorial not mention the goals/objectives of the Republicans to do everything they could to cause President Obama's failure during his first term, without regard to the economic conditions of this Republic?

The Editorial did not mention how much the total National Debt of about $12 trillion dollars was at the end of Bush W.'s 2009 Fiscal Year. Nor did it mention the 2007 deep recession or why Bush W. and Paulson needed to borrow $700 billion dollars in September 2008.

August 8, 2012 at 10:06 p.m.
jazzman said...

carlB

re: '"become brain dead," or "dumbed down"'

Right-wingers have demonstrated that many times with the 'birther'/Kenyan idiocy, Obama is a secret muslim, secret armies/FEMA, or the 'apologizing' for America nonsense.

Lying and establishing paranoia are main republican policies, although they're not as good at it as they used to be. In today's republican politics, republicans don't even bother to keep track of their lies, which is why it's so easy to expose them as lies.

A good example of that is how republicans lied in their ad, the one explaining that the people in the ad built their business without help, especially from the government. Turns out nearly all received grants, SBA money, Fed money, or State/local incentive funds. Those facts don't matter to the rightwing. As true rightwingers, they have accepted being brain dead, and having their world "dumbed down'.

Republicans talk ..about jobs, but the majority of their time is spent on issues like abortion and suppressing voting by Dems.

Republicans are very desperate to lie about Obama, as well as lie about themselves and their policies. They know that the electoral projections do not look good for Willard.

August 9, 2012 at 3:13 a.m.
carlB said...

What has prevented every sensible person from realizing that the anti Obama groups have decided to go "all out" with their biased opinions, basing their life's political and ideological decisions on accepting, out right lying, misinformation, misleading information, and fabricating their own made up stories against President Obama. Even before any of President Obama's policies were applied, his opponents were already accusing him of being a failure, while continuing with their obstruction and lying to convince the voters that they made a mistake in electing President Obama in 2008? This Republic should be held together with the proper balance between the "extremes" and governed under the most truthful conditions possible and it appears that this 2012 election year has turned out to be a battle between whether the voters want to base their votes on the actual true conditions or on what the "lying people" are saying, who want to get President Obama out of office? This 2012 election should be won by the Democratic candidates based on a comprehensive list of factual conditions. It is hard to believe the voters will make their decisions of who they want to vote for based on the lies being told against President Obama. If the voters do make their voting decisions based on the "lying people" is this what we want this Republic to stand for?

August 9, 2012 at 8:48 a.m.
shen said...

Americans are slowing, but surely wising up. They're starting to scrutinize more closely the BS the right wingNUTS are regurgitating. Most everyone with a brain knows it's the right winglets who have attempted to block every effort the president has made to stimulate the economy. All that hate. Where does it come from? Why?

What profits a man to gain the whole world only to lose his own soul? In their efforts and determination to destroy the president, righties have lost their own souls.

August 9, 2012 at 1:02 p.m.
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