Sunday, September 26, 2004

Bush Hates the Working Poor

The effects of the Bush tax cuts has simply been an assault on the lower class in the United States. In a new series by the Detroit News they studied the results of the tax cuts and have concluded that the working poor have lost ground due to the Bush policies. Some highlights,

*A six-month Detroit News investigation showed that as a result of the withering government assistance, working poor and destitute Americans are increasingly likely to be placed on waiting lists for help, receive reduced services, or be denied service entirely.

*The News, after interviewing scores of people across the United States and examining thousands of pages of federal and state financial records, determined the loss of services cost many poor Americans more money than they saved from the tax cuts. In many cases, the poorest lost services and got no tax cut at all.

*The poorest 20 percent of workers, who earn on average $16,600 annually, will get a tax break of $250 this year, which is less than 2 percent of their income. That amounts to about 68 cents a day. By comparison, the richest 1 percent, with average incomes topping $1.1 million, will receive $78,460 in tax cuts this year. That is nearly 7 percent of their income.

*While most workers pay into Social Security all year, millionaires — who pay less than half a percent — would be finished paying it by the first four weeks of the year. For taxpayers who earn more than $87,900, it amounts to an estimated $85 billion break. Meanwhile, the Bush tax breaks for the richest 10 percent this year alone will total $148 billion.

*The number of Americans living in poverty has risen 10 percent since 2000, after falling in the late 1990s. Nearly 36 million Americans — one in eight — now live in poverty and tens of millions more are considered working poor. The economy has lost nearly a million jobs since it slid into recession in March 2001.

*America’s working poor — its secretaries, cooks, laborers, clerks and others — are finding it difficult to meet even basic needs.
For the poor, child care and housing can consume more than 80 percent of their income. And 45 million Americans, most of them low-income, have no health insurance. Housing in many cities is so unaffordable that although 39 percent of the homeless work, they can’t pay for even a substandard apartment, according to a 2003 survey by the country’s mayors.

*Nearly 6 percent of all U.S. workers earn minimum wage, $5.15 an hour. Based on a 40-hour workweek, the annual minimum wage of $10,700 places a single parent of two well below the poverty level. Minimum wage earners got very little under the Bush tax cuts. Key social program cuts have left them with fewer places to turn for help.

This is only a small part of the series from the Detroit News (a conservative editorial board). The stories of the individuals can be heartbreaking. Poor shut-ins unable to pay for the increased costs of energy to heat their homes at the same time government assistance is being cut. Working mothers unable to pay for child care as they work at low paying jobs at the same time they are told they can only get on a waiting list for child care help, if there is even a waiting list to be placed on. Older citizens dieing earlier because they can't afford medical care.

The thing that galls me the most is this idea that George Bush claims to be a compassionate conservative. How can he claim to care about most of the people in this country while cutting taxes for the rich. People that have no problem living day to day, having the best healthcare, who are well prepared for retirement, have their kids in the best schools were not in need of a tax cut, much less three rounds of tax cuts. These tax cuts have plunged the federal budget deep into the red, have forced the cutbacks of programs to help those in need at the same time that charities have had to cut back as well.

But the way the Bush gang want us to think it is gays getting married that is the major problem in this country. Compassion from these robbers of the poor is an unmitigated lie. They don't care one bit for the people who have died in fires as they live by candlelight because they can't afford to pay for electricity (this happens more than we realize). They don't give one iota for the older Americans who pass their final days stressed from heat or cold extremes to die due to electricity cutoffs.

Somebody please explain to me their compassionate logic. Don't tell me about trickle down economic theories. When the rich have been given all these tax cuts to buy what, another new foreign car? As the working poor struggle even more? While people die because they can't afford to live in our society? Is this some kind of religious thing? Are fundementalist Christians that back Republicans and Bush really so blind to what is happening to the poor? Is this that pull yourselves up by the bootstraps thing for people who can't afford the actual boots?

Oh sure we have to spend billions killing people in other countries while people in our own country suffer. We have to make life even easier for the top wealthy in this country because well, I guess they just aren't comfortable enough. We have to cut programs for the working poor and destitute because well, they just aren't suffering enough. I'm ashamed of the government policies being propagated by these ruthless leaders called the Bush Administration. They have no compassion whatsoever, oh pardon me, they are unmistakenly compassionate about making the rich more comfortable. I wonder if that is because everyone in the Bush Administration is rich?


Blogger whizler said...

One is hard-pressed to find evidence of this "withering government assistance" in any of the articles by the Detroit News. In fact, discretionary non-defense spending under Bush has exploded, increasing more than any president since Lyndon Johnson. Between FY 2001 and 2005, non-defense spending will increase 25%. Alleged cutbacks in social spending haven't "paid for" the tax cuts. Borrowing has paid for them, as well as the increased spending.

Finally, it seems to me real compassion comes from individuals, not from government officials proposing to transfer one's money to someone else.

4:27 PM  
Blogger jon said...

I don't understand Robert, you don't believe the statistics they cite? Do you expect a newspaper to print thousands of pages of GAO reports and Congressional bills? Along side the articles they had links to sites that provided their data.

Two major reasons for the non-discretionary spending, Homeland Security which didn't even exist as a government expense prior to 2002 and last years senior prescription drug bill which as it so happens cost more than projected because a Bushie lied about the initial costs. The jury is still out on whether it actually saves seniors any money or whether it was really just a giveaway to the pharmecuticals and HMOs. (And maybe you missed it, medicare premiums just rose 17%) As well the Sarbannes/Oxley bill required increased funding for the SEC to of course start investigating and prosecuting the corporate cheats.

Certainly borrowing is as well a part of the formula, our federal budget is digging a big hole and the federal debt is becoming a chasm. And naturally we have to pay interest on that debt, that costs non-discretionary dollars or tack that onto the negative federal budget.

George Bush IS an individual as are all government officials. Bush spent his 2000 campaign with the so-called compassionate conservativism as his theme, he said it hundreds of times, he should to be held to the standard he created for himself. And who the government transfer the money from to benefit others does indeed matter. Reducing the tax burden on the richest 1% of Americans (who I never heard complaining they weren't comfortable with their amount of wealth) to cut back and/or end desperately needed social programs is certainly a sign of a lack of compassion for those in need.

In fact there were a number of those wealthy 1% that stated publicly that there was no need for tax breaks on the rich. Warren Buffett, George Soros, Bill Gates father among the rich who understood the need for a balance within our society as to rich and poor.

11:35 AM  
Blogger whizler said...

What statistics do they cite? Where are they? I search, but cannot find them. The only one I found is the $600 million cut in job training. The article "Working Poor Suffer Under Bush Tax Cuts" only asserts "trimmed social spending" and provides not one example. In fact, nothing in the article supports its title.

Child care? "During the first three years of the Bush administration, child care funding grew 5 percent, to $4.8 billion."

Meals on Wheels? "Federal money for the meals program — $180 million this year — has remained flat for the past two years after an initial hike of $24 million in 2002."

Utility bills? "Yet funding for LIHEAP and other energy assistance programs grew 7 percent under the Bush administration, barely matching inflation."

Apparently, if government assistance doesn't grow significantly to match everyone's demand, then it qualifies as a cut. Orwellian logic at its best.

The effort to link the tax cuts and these alleged cuts in social spending is laughable. There's almost no connection.

The majority of the 25% increase in discretionary spending under Bush has come about before the DHS and Medicare drug benefit (the latter is non-discretionary anyway and the former contains elements of both). In fact, a large chunk of it has gone to education.

I'm sorry, but it's perverse to equate real compassion with forcible government transfer of one person's money to someone else, regardless of the rhetoric. If Senator A proposes to spend $500 million on a welfare program, while Senator B proposes $750 million, is Senator B more "compassionate" than Senator A? What a bizarre understanding of the word. Real compassion comes from sacrifices you willingly make.

1:53 PM  
Blogger jon said...

The statistics are there, if you have a problem with them write the Detroit News. The newspaper is a conservative paper, I'm sure they vetted the articles thoroughly as the articles are an idictment of the Bush term. It is the fact that the Detroit News IS a conservative news source that I trust the information as the series of articles attacks the president's policies.

While increased government spending does play a role in expanding the deficit, tax cuts are a much greater factor. The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities' (CBPP) January 2004 analysis of the shift from a $236.4 billion surplus in 2000 to a projected $477 billion deficit in 2004 directly contradicts any claim that tax cuts are not a source of the budget deficit. CBPP reported that "the drop-off in revenues [due to tax cuts] accounts for more than three times as much of this shift as the rise in expenditures [due largely to increased spending for homeland security and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq]."

Your problem is also with the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, you should go argue with them as well.

10:17 AM  

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