The midterm elections are rapidly approaching on November
07, 2006 and this year the terrorist flag is being sent up the flagpole
and waved by the powers that be. They want to scare Americans into allowing
them to continue their assault on the working class in this country. This
is quite a departure from the venomous lies they told in 2000, 2002 and
2004, when they touted their “family values” as a reason for
checking that election box. But, what happened to “family values”?
Where are “family values” today and just what impact have
the ruling body had on “family values” in this country?
Taking Stock of Family Values
Real income – the amount of available spending capital
– has fallen 3% between 2001 and 2004 (the most recent reporting
data). For the average income household, in 2004 they saw a reduction
of $1600 in available cash compared with 2001. From 1995 to 2000, those
same families saw an increase in available spending capital of 2.2% a
year. Working families have experienced this fall in income during a time
when the productivity for the same group has risen 15% on average. So
if working people have grown their productivity 15%, then why are their
The administration has boasted about economic gains, but we must remember those numbers reflect the economy as a whole, where the gains have come to those at the very top while the rest have seen reductions. In 2004 the economy expanded by 4.2%, productivity grew by 3.4% and the bottom 90% of the income scale saw their income increase by 1.4% (before being adjusted for inflation). The remainder of the income increase was passed along to the 10% at the top. So in 2004 the bottom 90% saw an income boost of 1.4% while the inflation rate was 3.4% (keep in mind this was before the boost in fuel prices) so that meant families in the lower 90% saw a reduction of income of 2%.
In the 1970s-80s, more and more families became two income families. As more and more spouses entered the workforce, the number of jobs available declined. Plus, when a spouse enters the workforce families see additional cost through day care, cleaning services and such. During the current administrations term, overtime rules have been rolled back, health care coverage dropped, pensions eliminated and government regulations on cost have been removed (such as the ceiling on the interest rate that credit card companies can charge). These changes have required more hours in the workforce for less pay, greater individual responsibility for health care and retirement savings. Couple this with the Bush tax cuts that has been skewed toward the rich and you have a recipe for disaster. Capital gains (stocks, closely held businesses and non-residential property) account for a significant amount of the income to wealthiest citizens, and have seen a huge cut in taxes by the Bush Administration. This reduction in federal tax base occurred during a time when federal spending went through the roof with the War in Iraq. In addition astronomical tax breaks were given to energy companies that further weakened the tax base. This increase in the federal government debt lead to less assistance for state, county and city governments which meant higher sales tax that is covered at a greater extent by medium and lower income families. For example, a family making $1,000,000 a year may only spend $400,000 and as such only pay sales tax on that $400,000. A family making $35,000 a year may end up spending $40,000 just to survive meaning they are paying sales tax on about 110% of their income while the wealthy family pays sales tax on 40% of their income.
The median wage in Alabama has fell $3,006 since 2000. That is how Alabama families have faired under George Bush.
So, if we consider that wages have risen under the rate of inflation, that tax burdens have been shifted from the wealthy to the working class and that employers have used the surplus job market to drive down wages and benefits, then we begin to see the falling value of working families.
This year Bush proposed a new “Health Care Savings Account” plan that places those with employer covered health care at risk. The President’s plan would offer a “tax break” for savings accounts to cover individualized health insurance. A recent study showed that if this flawed idea was passed as many as 350,000 workers who now have health care coverage could see that coverage dropped.
This idea would be as huge of a failure as the Medicare Prescription Drug Deal. A recent Congressional study proves this bill has actually raised the cost of prescription drugs for seniors. The President’s plan shifted prescription drug coverage to private companies, and eliminated Medicare’s ability to negotiate prices for drugs. This plan saw drug prices 80% higher than those that had been negotiated by Medicare, 60% higher than over the counter cost in Canada and 3% higher than simply purchasing the drugs outright from national retailer Costco. As a result seniors are paying more now than they were before, more and more health care plans that featured prescription drug coverage dropped prescription drug coverage “because enrollees could now utilize the Medicare plan”, the federal governments cost for drugs skyrocketed without the ability to negotiate and seniors ended up with costly monthly payments for a plan that actually raised their expense. So if consumers pay more and the government pays more, who actually made out in the deal? Pharmaceutical companies - that’s who. By the way, these are the same companies that led Republican donations in both the 2000 and 2002 election cycles.
Cost of Living
Fair and Balanced Government
Recently a federal judge ruled that the Bush’s Administration’s wire tapping policy was illegal he responded by saying “We will just appeal that decision to one of OUR judges” as if he answers to no one.
He expects his “faith based judges” to hold up decisions on torture and denial of basic human rights at his secret CIA prisons around the world. Bush appointed Charles Pickering to the 5th Federal Court during as a “recess appointment” to keep Congress from voting on him. Pickering is a managing member of an oil and gas exploration company in Mississippi and a partner in his father’s oil business. By the way the 5th District covers three oil producing states and Pickering hears dozens of cases concerning oil and energy industries. It is safe to assume that we all know which way he will lean on cases concerning oil companies.
The Value of Working Families
The value of working families is much too important to
allow the continued reign of corporate terrorism we have experienced over
the past six years. This election day, make certain that you cast your
ballot for candidates whose family values are not limited to rich families.
The existence of the middle class is at stake.
Other Essays By John Davis
Buying Power? Is the Glass Half Full or Half Empty?
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