Right-wing economic policies have failed working families. New U.S. Census Bureau figures show the share of income going to middle- and lower-middle-income households fell, while the share of income going to the top 5 percent went up 4.9 percent. The census report confirms the trend that the Economic Policy Institute shows in The State of Working America, 2012—falling incomes and growing inequality. Instead of coddling the richest 1%, America needs to return to the principles of “prosperity economics” that have historically enabled economic security for all and a growing middle class.
A generation after Reagan and more than a decade after the Bush tax cuts to the wealthiest among us, the middle class is less and less secure. Median family household income fell again last year and remains 8.9 percent lower than its peak in 1999. The share of income going to middle- and lower-middle-income households continued its fall, while the share of income going to households in the top 5 percent continued to rise. The top 20 percent now get a record high 51.1 percent of America’s income, leaving less for the bottom 80 percent.
The one silver lining in the data, increasing health insurance coverage, would be endangered greatly by a Mitt Romney–Paul Ryan White House, Trumka added. The number of uninsured people fell because of the expansion of Medicare and especially Medicaid, a program that the Romney–Ryan budget targets for immediate and draconian cuts. The Romney–Ryan plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act would mean the immediate end of the provision enabling young adults to benefit from their parents’ coverage.
The number of Americans without health insurance decreased to 48.6 million last year from 50 million in 2010, and the rate of uninsured dropped to 15.7 percent from 16.3 percent during the same period, according to figures released this morning from the U.S. Census Bureau. It was the first time in the past 10 years that the rate of private health insurance did not decrease, census officials said.
Young adults—who, under the provisions of the Affordable care Act (that Mitt Romney wants to repeal), can now be included on their parents’ health insurance plans until 26—accounted for the largest drop in the uninsured population, dropping 2.2 percentage points.
The new figures show, “clear and unmistakable evidence of the current benefits of Obamacare and the need to move forward with the full implementation of the law in 2014,” said Families USA.
But the figures also show the lingering effects of the slow recovery from the great recession, with 25 million more people relying on public insurance, (Medicaid, the [State] Children’s Health Insurance Plan, Medicare, etc.) while the number of people with employer-sponsored health insurance dropped by 14.2 million.
The census figures also looked at poverty in the United States and found that while the increase in the poverty leveled off in 2011 after three years of increases, 46.2 million people—including 16.1 million children—live in poverty, about 15 percent of the population.
A family of four with two children under the age of 18 would fall below the poverty line with a household income of less than $22,811, according to the Census Bureau.